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KIA SOUTH AFRICA DAVIS CUP TEAM NAMED FOR CRUCIAL TIE AGAINST PORTUGAL
11 Oct 2018
Kia South Africa
Kia South Africa
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(JOHANNESBURG) 11 October 2018
– KIA South Africa Davis Cup Team Captain, Marcos Ondruska, has announced his team that will take on Portugal next weekend in the all-important Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Group 1 relegation play-off from October 19 to 20, in Lisbon, Portugal.
South Africa lost their first round Group 1 tie against Israel at 2-3 at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria in February which put them in the relegation play-off position.
The KIA South Africa team to take on the Portuguese comprises Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and debutant Philip Henning, with Tucker Vorster travelling with the team as practice partner. The squad, with the exception of Henning, is the same one that last year saw off both Estonia and Slovenia and that beat Denmark away from home 4-1 to gain promotion to Euro/Africa Group 1 this year.
Harris remains the second highest ranked South African player on the world rankings and this past weekend won his second career Challenger title in Stockton, California. He won his first Challenger title in Kentucky, USA in August and has reached a final and six quarterfinals of other Challenger events this year. Harris qualified for his first ever Grand Slam at the US Open in August where he lost to Frenchman Gilles Simon in the first round and then went onto upset former world number 6 Gael Monfils the top seed in the ATP Chengdu Open before losing in a titanic three set battle against former world number 17 Australian Bernard Tomic in the same tournament. Harris goes into the tie at a career singles high ranking of 113.
Scholtz will be playing his eighth tie for South Africa.
South Africa’s highest world ranked doubles player, Raven Klaasen, will once again do duty for his country and will more than likely partner Ruan Roelofse for the doubles rubber. Klaasen and Roelofse are unbeaten in Davis Cup competition and have played seven rubbers together since 2015.
A welcome addition to the team is Philip Henning, South Africa’s highest world ranked junior. Henning, who is presently doing duty for South Africa at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, played in all four junior Grand Slams this year, has won seven out of a possible eight national singles titles during his junior career, and also won the African Junior Championships. On Sunday evening Henning was presented with the President’s Award at the gala dinner of the Growthpoint Masters in Potchefstroom for his outstanding achievements on court and excellent off court sportsmanship.
With the new format being trialed this year and at this tie specifically, Henning could well play the tie as the new format allows the captain to play all five team members over the two-day tie, and not just four nominated players as in the previous format over three days.
Ondruska said that the tie was going to be very interesting. “Portugal have a lot of depth. It’s never easy playing away. Portugal have chosen outdoor clay which is their preferred surface, and they will have the crowds behind them. But saying that, I have a motivated team, Lloyd Harris and Raven Klaasen are in great form, so I expect the tie to be an interesting battle.”
Portugal have also announced their best possible team for the upcoming tie, with three of the four named players ranked within the top 200 of the world’s ATP singles ranking. The team announced includes Joao Sousa, Pedro Sousa, Castao Elias and Joao Domingues. Nuno Marques, the former Portuguese Davis Cup player, was named as the team captain. Marques was the first ever player from Portugal to break into the world’s top 100 singles rankings.
Marques said it was important for Portugal to capitalize on home ground advantage. “It is obvious that we prefer to play this Davis Cup tie in Portugal, so we can use the home conditions in our favour, playing on red clay instead of hardcourts, as best as we can to pursuit our goals. We will try to use the Davis Cup home advantage from our side. It is very important in this competition and our recent results playing at home shows us how strong we can be when we play in front of our home crowd.”
The Portuguese captain spoke highly of the South African team. “As per the South African team, we do know they have a number one player which is very young, Lloyd Harris, with a lot of potential and good recent results. But they also have a strong doubles team, which makes the whole South African team very dangerous.”