22 April 2013
The South African Fed Cup tennis team breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday after a 2-1 win over Estonia ensured they remain in Euro Africa Group II for the competition in 2014.
The South African team of Chanel Simmonds, Natalie Grandin, Madrie le Roux and Lyn Kiro made a slow start to the week, losing 2-1 to both Lithuania and hosts Montenegro, to find themselves on the back foot.
Those losses left South Africa in a battle to avoid relegation. They kept their hopes of survival alive with a 2-1 win over Greece on Thursday and followed that up with a victory over Estonia on Saturday to secure their place in the group for 2014.
Commenting afterwards, South African captain John-Laffnie de Jager said: “We are very happy with the win today and that we stayed in Group II, but it was a disappointing week for us.
“We came here to qualify and move up to Group I and we disappointed ourselves with our performances on the first two days.”
De Jager suggested that all the players in his team, excepting for the veteran Grandin, would not be very happy with their performances.
“It is always tough for our players to play on the clay because they have very little experience [of it],” he explained.
“The two youngsters in the team Madrie Le Roux and Lynn Kiro really struggled on the clay. Madrie played well with Natalie in the doubles. The youngsters will have to step up next year because I doubt at 33 years of age Natalie still wants to play singles.
“She was again very good and put her body on the line to play singles and doubles. She only plays doubles on the tour these days,” he added.
De Jager said that the team missed African Junior Champion Ilze Hattingh who was forced to pull out of the competition on the eve of the tournament due to a back injury.
“Ilze was supposed to play at number two. Last year, at the age of 16, she only lost one match. Ilze was missed,” he stated.
Promoted to Group I
Confirmed for Group II
Relegated to Group III
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