SA confident ahead of Slovenia tie
“Things are very good here in Slovenia” were the confident words expressed by South African Davis Cup captain John Laffnie De Jager ahead of this weekend crucial Davis Cup tie against Slovenia.
Most of the South African team including Rik De Voest, Nikala Scholtz, Ruan Botha and Raven Klaasen arrived in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana on Saturday giving the South Africans enough days on the clay to prepare. Davis Cup debutant, Dean O’Brien joined the team from the USA on Monday.
“We have had three good days of practice on the clay. It has been raining the last two days so we had to practice indoors. We had our first practice on the match court today (Tuesday)” said De Jager.
“The court is very slow and with the wet weather the conditions I am expecting it to be even slower.”
De Jager said he was very happy with the form of the South African players. “My boys are healthy with no injuries which is very pleasing considering what happened the last two ties against Canada and Poland where we had so many injuries and I ended up being playing captain.”
He is very impressed with the young guys in the team namely Ruan Roelofse, Dean O’Brien and Nikala Scholtz. The captain though would not commit to who he would be playing in the singles and doubles this weekend.
“I will only decide on Thursday morning after our morning session who will play singles and doubles. I need some more time to watch our boys in practice on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the draw before deciding,” said De Jager.
The draw will take place on Thursday at 11am CAT (SA, GMT+2).
De Jager said that their opposing Slovenian team were very strong. “The Slovenian team is very strong especially with Grega Zemla (ranked 74) and Blaz Kavcic (ranked 105) in their line-up. I expect Zemlja and Calcic and to play all five matches.”
Newcomer to the South African team Dean O’Brien, who was a wildcard at this year’s Soweto Open where he reached the quarterfinals, said: "It has been an amazing experience to be part of the South African Davis Cup team thus far. I am surrounded by a phenomenal group and can't wait for the tie to begin on Friday."
This is a crucial tie as the losers will have to face Russia in the final relegation playoff to see who remains in Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 and who will drop to Group 2 next year.
Victory in Slovenia will see South Africa automatically stay in Group 1.