SA duo in USA tennis showpiece
South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager and long-time team stalwart Rik De Voest will feature in the World Team Tennis (WTT) final at the Washington Kastles Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Although the WTT format has not yet made a major impact worldwide, it is, according to De Jager, "big business" in the United States, where the final showpiece is the equivalent of American football's annual Orange Bowl bonanza.
De Jager is the coach of the Springfield Lasers, who meet defending champions Washington Kastles on Sunday, and De Voest has been one of the main influences in the Lasers reaching the final.
"Many of tennis's top personalities have featured in the WTT event at one time or another," said De Jager, "including John McEnroe, Serena and Venus Williams and Andy Roddick, who will be in the Lasers' line-up against Kastles on Sunday.
"The final has established itself as one of the major sports events in the United States," added South Africa's team captain, "and arouses big interest from coast to coast."
The Kastles, who have dominated the event over the last three years, included five-times grand slam singles winner Martina Hingis, reported to be making a comeback on the WTA circuit, as well as India's Leander Paes.
The Lasers beat the Texas Wild 25-9 on Thursday night to annex the Western Conference title and qualify for the final, with De Voest beating Alex Bogomolov Jnr, who last year was ranked 33rd in the world, in the decisive men's singles.
The Kastles clinched the Eastern Conference title and qualified for the Washington final with a 25-12 win over the Boston Lobsters.
"Rik has been at the top of his form in the last few months, which augers well for Sunday's final," said De Jager.
It was also a good sign for South Africa's Davis Cup tie against Slovenia in six weeks.
De Jager would revert back to his Davis Cup duties next week, perusing form on the summer series of ATP tournaments, which culminates with the US Open in which De Voest would be participating.