Rik de Voest (RSA) lost to Romain Arneodo (Mon) 5-7 6-3 5-7 7-5 4-6

The Monaco Davis Cup team made a dream start to their Euro/Africa Group 2 Tie vs South Africa on Friday.

The visitors, playing at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria won the opening rubber when their second ranked player, Romain Arneodo beat South African number one, Rik De Voest 7-5 3-6 7-5 5-7 6-4.

Rik de Voest of South Africa in action against Romain Arneodo during the Opening singles of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Monaco at the Irene Country Club on Thursday.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


The rubber lasted 4 hours 15 minutes and started over two hours after the scheduled start time of 10h00 due to heavy rains over the tournament site.

De Voest was visibly disappointed after his loss. “I put a big effort in out there today. I really wanted to do well. Irene is my home club where I learnt the game and it was a dream come true to play for my country in front of my home crowd. But it wasn’t to be. I must give credit to Romain who played a good match and played the big points well and lifted his game when he needed to, and that made the difference out there” said de Voest.

Arneodo was delighted to have pulled off the win. “Our team came early because of the altitude and I really felt prepared going into today’s rubber. Today the balls were heavy and everything was heavy so it suited me a lot” said Arneodo. “I am very proud, it was the first time I ever played Davis Cup for Monaco and the first time I played a five set match.”

The win puts added pressure on South Africa’s second singles player, Nik Scholtz who has a mammoth task against the visitors top player Benjamin Balleret ranked 276 which is 676 places higher than Scholtz..

When bad light stopped play Scholtz was leading Balleret 7-5 1-3.

On Saturday at 10h00 the Scholtz vs Balleret rubber will be completed. That will be followed by the Opening ceremony which in turn will be followed by the doubles rubber.

South African Captain, John-Laffnie De Jager said that he would have to regroup with his team tonight to discuss the strategy. “We were counting on Rik winning and giving us a point but we all know how different Davis Cup is from tournament tennis. Monaco played well to win the opening rubber. Our team are fighters, Nik is in a good position against their number one and tonight well strategize on how best to handle the situation we are in.”

DAVIS CUP
EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP 2 – FIRST ROUND
SOUTH AFRICA vs MONACO
Venue: Irene Country Club, Pretoria, South Africa (hard court – outdoor)

Order of Play/Results

Friday 31 January 2014 (12h30 delayed start due to rain. Original start time 10h00)

Rik De Voest (RSA) lost to Romain Arneodo (Mon) 5-7 6-3 5-7 7-5 4-6
Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-5 1-3 (bad light stopped play)

Saturday 01 February 2014 (10h00)

Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs. Benjamin Balleret (Mon) (to be completed)

Followed by

Opening Ceremony

Followed by

Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) vs Guillaume Couillard/Thomas Oger (Mon)

Sunday 02 February 2014 (10h00)

Rik De Voest (RSA) vs Benjamin Balleret (Mon)

Followed by

Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Romain Arneodo (Mon)


IZAK VAN DER MERWE NOT NAMED IN SOUTH AFRICAN FINAL FOUR

Johannesburg, South Africa – In a surprise move, South African Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie De Jager replaced originally nominated Izak van der Merwe with Ruan Roelofse in his final four players for this weekend’s crucial Davis Cup Tie against Monaco. Van Der Merwe has not been playing on the tour due to an injured heel which required surgery last year April. This tie will be his first competitive outing since injury.

South African Captain John-Laffnie de Jager (left) and Monaco Captain : Christophe Boggetti at the official draw of the Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group 2 South Africa vs Monaco tie South Africa vs Monaco Tie at the Irene Country Club on Thursday.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The veteran South African Davis Cup star, Rik De Voest will get South Africa’s weekend campaign under way against Monaco at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria tomorrow (Friday). De Voest will play Monaco number two, Romain Arneodo in the opening rubber. This will be the first time that the two have met.
This will be the 43rd time that 33 year old De Voest will step onto court in the green and gold.
The draw for the first round Group Two Europe/Africa tie was made at the charming Irene Country Club on Thursday and De Voest’s name was drawn for the first singles rubber by tie Referee, Wael Abbas of Egypt.
In the past De Voest has spoken about the importance of playing Davis Cup for his country and even though he is a veteran at representing his country each and every tie holds an important part in his heart. “This is going to be a real special tie for me. Irene is where I grew up and on the same courts I played my first tennis. To now go out on Friday and open procedures will be really special for me and my parents and the community at large. Hopefully I will be giving South Africa that all important lead after the first rubber” said De Voest.
The absence of Kevin Anderson once again has somewhat weakened the South African line-up but Captain John-Laffnie De Jager and his team remain upbeat about their chances this weekend. “We have the best possible side experience wise for this tie. We all know that Kevin would add great value to our team but with him not being available for Davis Cup we need to work with what we have and I believe the team we have assembled for this weekend are the best for the job, are passionate about playing for their country and will do us all proud.”
De Jager named NCAA College star, Nik Scholtz as his second singles player. Scholtz made his first Davis Cup appearance against Canada last year in Montreal where he impressed.
Scholtz will be up next on Friday in the second rubber against Monaco number 1, Benjamin Balleret ranked 261 in the world.
“I am very excited to be playing for South Africa again” said Scholtz. “I am truly honoured to play for my country, I feel confident about my game as I have played 10 matches in the last two weeks at College in the USA, and am ready to give of my best.”
SA’s non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager said after a week’s training he felt Roelofse was the best option to replace Van der Merwe. “I’ve came to the decision because we needed a player that could play singles and doubles in the event we have problems with Rik and or Nik. Izak made it clear that although he is striking the ball well he felt confident to play the doubles but not the singles. To gamble Izak as part of the team is not in the best interests of our chances. Ruan has been playing well in recent months, and then at training this week he was looking good,” said De Jager. “That’s why I selected Ruan and I have confidence that he’ll do the business.”
As expected, Klaasen has been consigned to doubles duty and will partner Ruan Roelofse.
“I see this as an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles match on Saturday,” said Klaasen. “Hopefully by the time we play the doubles South Africa will be leading so that we can sew up the result before the start of Sunday’s reverse singles.”
Meanwhile Tennis South Africa announced that there would be live streaming of the tie for each and every rubber played. To view the live streaming go to www.streamit360.tv

The playing programme;
Friday opening ceremony (start 09h30)
Friday singles (start 10h00): Rik De Voest (RSA) vs Romain Arneodo (Mon) followed by Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs. Benjamin Balleret (Mon),
Saturday doubles (start 12h00): Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Ruan Roelofse (RSA) vs. Guillaume Couillard (Mon) and Thomas Oger (Mon).
Sunday reverse singles (10h00): Rik De Voest (RSA) vs. Benjamin Balleret (Mon), Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs. Romain Arneodo (Mon).
Teams
South Africa: Rik De Voest, Ruan Roelofse; Raven Klaasen and Nik Scholtz. Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.
Monaco: Romain Arneodo, Benjamin Balleret, Thomas Oger, Guillaume Couillard. Captain: Christophe Boggetti.


WINNING NIKE JUNIOR TOUR INTERNATIONAL MASTERS DEBUT FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S THONGOANA

Port St Lucie, Florida – South Africa’s Richard Thongoana survived a second-set scare to win through to the second round of the NJT International Masters at Club Med, Sandpiper Bay, in the USA on Sunday.
The 14-year-old St Stithians scholar defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 in a match that lasted just over two hours.

Richard Thongoana of Johannesburg in action on day one of the Nike Junior Tour International Masters being played at Club Med Sanpiper Bay in Port Saint Lucie, Florida USA. Thongoana beat Alejandro Fokina of Spain 6-1 6-7 (2) 6-1 in round 1.
Picture credit: Pierre Zonzon.


However, it was not good news for 12-year-old Linge Steenkamp who was beaten 6-1 6-0 by Germany’s Luisa Meyer Auf Der Heide.
The remaining two South Africans in the draw will play on Monday. Joubert Klopper will have it all to do when he faces top seed Adam Neff of the US. Neff is coming off a victory in the Eddie Herr International on Sunday.
Zani Barnard had a first round bye but she is set to come up against seventh seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.
Speaking about his match Thongoana said: “I think in the second set he changed his game. He started placing the ball well and hit harder. It became difficult for me to know where he was going to hit next.”
Momentum in the second set swung from one player to the other although the Spaniard tended to have the edge all the way to the end. Thongoana found himself down a double break of serve at 2-5 but managed to crawl back to 5-5. The South African had four opportunities to set up a 6-5 lead and serve for the match but Forkina managed to hold and forced the set into a tie-breaker.
Again the Spaniard flew out of the blocks and built up a 5-1 lead but the South African fought back to level at 5-5. At that point Forkina found a good serve which Richard could only scramble back and set the Spaniard up with an easy winner.
The ball crossed the net a number of times at 6-5 as both players fought for supremacy but Thongoana handed the set to Forkina when he narrowly missed a passing shot. However, during that point the Spaniard, while stretching for the ball, apparently strained a muscle in his groin. At the interval he took an injury timeout but looked well enough at the start of the third set.
Although he lost his serve in the opening game, Forkina broke back immediately to level at 1-1. From that point on, however, it was all the South African. He got a 2-1 lead when Forkina served a double fault on game point.
Thongoana broke held for 3-1 and then knew the match was his when breaking the Spaniard’s serve again. “When I lost my serve in the second game I thought I was going to be out here a long time. But when I was 4-1 up in the third I felt I really just had to finish him off.”
That is exactly what he did, winning the next two games to close out the match.
Thongoana, who is coached in Johannesburg by Vusa Majola, will have a much tougher contest in the second round where he comes up against second seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia. “I’m expecting a very tough match but I need to be confident, do all the basics right and try my best.”


TENNIS ACE SITHOLE SINGLES AND DOUBLES RUNNER UP AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole’s reached both the quads singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open Grand Slam. Although his hopes of winning his second Grand Slam in 6 months did not materialize, Sithole did SA proud. Sithole was the first wheelchair tennis player from Africa to play in both the singles and doubles final of the Australian Open.

Lulu Xingwana Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (Left) and Fikile Mbalula Minister of Sport and recreation with Australian Open wheelchair tennis quad finalist Lucas Sithole at a press conference after his arrival from the Australian Open at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 January.

Lucas17a: Australian Open wheelchair tennis quad finalist Lucas Sithole with Lulu Xingwana Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities behind at a press conference after his arrival from the Australian Open at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 January.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa the game sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis SA, said “Airports Company South Africa congratulates Lucas on an inspiring performance. The company is especially proud to see how its partnership with WTSA has developed and grown talent over the nine-year period since it started sponsoring the sport. WTSA is developing world-class players and has put South Africa on the global map of wheelchair sporting talent,”

Coming into the finals Wagner and Sithole had both won 2 out of the 3 round robin matches to secure their place in the quad’s final at the first Grand Slam of 2014.

In the finals, Sithole started strong, focused and determined winning the 1st set comfortably. Wagner had a great start in the 2nd set building a lead of 3-0 when Sithole realigned his concentration and nerves to level the set at 3-3. Wagner won the next two games leading 5-3 and it was Sitholes’ strong serves that got him back to 5-5 with Wagner taking the last two games to win the 2nd set 7-5. In the 3rd set the American David Wagner had an early break and took the deciding set 6-3. The final score was 3-6,7-5, 6-3 to World No 1, David Wagner (USA) giving Wagner his 3rd Australian Open title and the 1st year winning both the singles and doubles title at the Australian Open.

SA Sports Awards Coach of the Year 2013 Holger Losch, said “We are proud of Lucas for reaching his 2nd Grand Slam final. It is another milestone achieved and the experience he gained is extremely valuable. Lucas had a very successful Australian tour winning both the Apia Sydney International Open and the Melbourne Open earlier in January this year. We are excited to see what the year holds for our top South African aces Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa. I would also like to thank our game sponsor Airports Company South Africa, who without their support, these achievements would not have been possible. ”

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership, we wish to produce more champions like Lucas ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by Lucas’s achievement and get involved in the sport.


SITHOLE ONE MATCH AWAY FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL

Melbourne, Australia - South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole is a match away from his 2nd Grand slam final at the Australian Open.
The top four quads and top 8 men and women wheelchair tennis players were invited to play in the prestigious Australian Open Grand Slam event.

The top four quads players invited to the 2014 Australia Open are:

        David Wagner (USA)     World ranked no.1
        Lucas Sithole (RSA)      World ranked no.2
        Andy Lapthorne (GBR)   World ranked no.3
        Dylan Alcott (AUS)        World ranked no.21 (Wildcard entry)

As the quads draw caters for only 4 players it is played as a round robin format.

The round-robin format for the quad singles at the Grand Slams means that all four players will have to meet each other before the weekend’s finalists are decided. The top two players at the end of the three days of round-robin matches will advance to the final.

Status thus far:

Lucas Sithole, won his first round robin match against world no 3 Andy Lapthorne 6-4, 6-2 yesterday and lost to David Wagner, world no 1 today 6-7, 6-7. Sithole will still face Dylan Alcott tomorrow in his last round robin match.

Alcott lost his 1st match against Wagner 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 and defeated Lapthorne today 6-4, 5-7, 8-6. If Sithole defeats Alcott tomorrow he will secure a place in the Australian Open quads singles final. David Wagner will play Andy Lapthorne tomorrow in their last round robin matches.

In the doubles Lucas Sithole is partnered with Dylan Alcott (AUS) to play top seeds David Wagner (USA) and Andy Lapthorne (GBR) for the title today.

In the women’s division Kgothatso Montjane ranked no.6 in the world and SA Sports Awards winner for Disabled Sportswoman of the year 2013 faced top seed Sabine Ellerbrock (GER), ranked no.2 internationally, yesterday in the quarter finals where Ellerbrock won the match 6-1,6-3. Montjane and doubles partner Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) will be playing in the doubles semi-final against top seeds Yiu Kamiji (JPN) and Jordanne Whiley (GBR).
Holger Losch, Coach and Director of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa says “Both KG and Lucas have prepared well, are in good spirits, and are capable of bringing home titles. We wish them luck and offer our support to two real champions.”

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership; the company hopes to produce more achievers like Lucas and Kgothatso ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games and beyond. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by the players’ achievement and get involved in the sport.


RAVEN KLAASEN CONTINUES TO LIVE THE DREAM!

Melbourne, Australia - South African Davis Cup star, Raven Klaasen and his American partner Eric Butorac continued their dream run at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Klaasen and Butorac, unseeded won through to the finals of the first Grand Slam of the year when the outplayed 8 seeds Daniel Nestor (Canada) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) 6-2 6-4.

In a match that lasted only 64 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena, Klaasen and Butorac were the inform team from the start. They played a clinical match and proved how to combine and play as a team throughout. They got the basics right; good solid serving, effective returning and crisp volley placements to beat a team who combined had a total of 133 titles between them including 11 Grand Slam titles.

This is the first Grand Slam final for both Klaasen and Butorac and it was Klaasen’s first Grand Slam semi-final appearance. Butorac reached the doubles semi-final in Melbourne in 2011 so came onto court today with some added confidence and advise for his partner.

“I’ve been to the semi-finals before but it is great to take a step further” said Butorac after victory. “It’s been a dream run for Raven and I so far and we having a great time on court.”

Klaasen was delighted with his win. “That was unbelievable! We played a very clean match from start to finish! It was so much fun being out there on the big stage! I am really enjoying all the support from back home!”

Klaasen and Butorac now have beaten four seeded teams en route to the finals including a memorable 7-6 (9) 6-4 victory in round three against top seeds and world number ones, Bob and Mike Bryan, the sensational twin brothers from the USA. In the final on Saturday, Klaasen and Butorac will play the winner of the 14 - Lukasz Kubot (Pol) / Robert Lindstedt (Swe) vs 13 – Michael Llodra (Fra) Nicolas Mahut (Fra) semi-final being played Thursday.

Klaasen and Butorac got the early break in the third game of the opening set when they put pressure on the fragile Zimonjic serve. Two games later they broke Nestor to lead 4-1 and then held out to win the opener 6-2. Dressed in black Klaasen and Butorac made 16 winners and only 2 unforced errors in the first set. Nestor and Zimonjic could only take five points against serve in the opener.

Showing high energy levels and good momentum, Klaasen and Butorac broke Nestor again in the fifth game of the second set when Klaasen like a black panther on the hunt crossed and put away a volley winner. The South African/American team kept their composure and held serve to win the second set 6-4 and deservedly earn themselves a spot in the final.


ILZE HATTINGH GOES OUT DOWN UNDER

Melbourne, Australia - The fine run of South Africa’s only junior player in the Junior Australian Open has come to an end.

Ilze Hattingh

Photo credit: Mario van de Waal


Pretoria’s Ilze Hattingh bowed out in round three of the singles to Russian, Anastasiya Komardina.

Komardina, seeded 10, beat Hattingh 6-4 6-4.

The left handed Russian troubled Hattingh throughout. Hattingh certainly had her chances as she had 11 break point opportunities but only converted one of the eleven.

“As disappointed as I am to have lost today, I am happy to have had a great run in Melbourne” said Hattingh following her loss. “I had my chances against Anastasiya but didn’t capitalize. Had I won some of the many break points I had against her it could have been a different result. But all credit to Anastasiya who was the better player on the day and deserved the win for keeping such good composure.”


MINISTER FIKILE MBALULA SERVES TENNIS STAR RAVEN KLAASEN AN ACE

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African tennis star, Raven Klaasen received a surprise tonight on his arrival back from practise at his Melbourne hosts home before retiring to bed.

Klaasen who with his American partner Eric Butorac have reached Thursday’s semi-finals of the Australian Open received a phone call from non-other than South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula.

“It was a long day at the tennis. I had a solid practise, then a rub down and did some media work and got caught in heavy traffic travelling home. I got home and the phone rang and honestly I never expected Minister Mbalula to be on the line. I asked who was speaking and when he told me it was the Minister I was shocked. I never expected the call and was very excited that the Minister took time out of his schedule to make a call to me. The Minister wished my partner and I well for Thursday and said that he and the country were very proud of me and that everyone back home was behind me for the final and to go all the way with Eric. This really meant a lot to me and motivates me more to put in that extra effort on Thursday for South Africa” said Klaasen.

On Thursday 31 year old Klaasen will play the biggest match of his career. Unseeded, Klaasen and Butorac have beaten three seeded teams en route to the semi-finals including the world’s best doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan.

In the semi-final, Klaasen and Butorac will do battle against eighth seeds Daniel Nestor (Canada) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia). The match is scheduled first on the Rod Laver Arena at 11h00 Melbourne time which is 02h00 on Thursday morning South African time. The semi-final will be shown live on SuperSport.

“We are feeling real excited about tomorrow (Thursday)” said Klaasen. “Today we had a good hit, and my body is feeling good. I can really feel the support from back home and after a good dinner and sleep I will be rearing to go tomorrow. We are confident and believe we can make the final and lift the trophy but we are also aware that ahead of us are two giant hurdles and we need to give our all to overcome each one” continued Klaasen.


SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS ACE, ILZE HATTINGH KEEPS WINNINGDOWN UNDER”!

Ilze Hatting South Africa’s top junior tennis player continues to shine at the junior Australian Open.

Today Hattingh beat Yukina Saigo of Japan 6-3 6-3 to move into the third round of the tournament. Hattingh is the only South African junior represented at the championships.

Ilze Hattingh

Photo credit: Mario van de Waal


“I was a bit nervous today” admitted Hattingh after victory. “I knew I could beat Yukina. Although nervous I also felt confident going onto court. Near the end I just said, believe in yourself, you are here for a reason, keep calm!”

Hattingh played aggressive tennis throughout and never gave her Japanese opponent a chance to settle into the match. “My serve really pulled me through today and I played aggressive tennis right through the match”.

Although Hattingh is struggling with influenza, the Pretoria based player, formally from Durban remains positive for her third round.

“I am Super Excited! I have a bit of flue, but luckily it doesn’t affect me on the court. I put my mind ahead of the flue.”

Hatting will now face tenth seed Anastasiya Komardina of Russia.

“I know Anastasiya, we have not played each other before but I have watched her and she is a great striker of the ball. It is going to be tough but I am really looking forward to the match.

South African Davis and Fed Cup Captain John-Laffnie de Jager who coaches Hatting said “I am very happy with Ilzes performance. Ilze is really playing well and I am satisfied with her form. She has worked very hard the last 12 months with the team at my academy. On Tuesday Ilze has a tough Russian opponent, but will focus on playing aggressive tennis. Ilze still has a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction.”


TOP SA TEAM FOR DAVIS CUP TIE AGAINST MONACO

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa will go guns-a-blazing into their Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Davis Cup tie against Monaco from January 31 to February 2 at the Irene Country Club.

Nikala Scholtz

Raven Klaasen

John-Laffnie de Jager (Captain)

Pictures by: BLD Communications

Ruan Roelofse

Rik de Voest

Izak van der Merwe


Tennis South Africa announced a strong squad to take on the Monegasque’s, comprising Izak van der Merwe, Rik de Voest, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Nikala Scholtz. The team will be captained by John-Laffnie de Jager.

De Jager will be forced to trim the squad down to four players by the start of the tie, but he does at least have a plethora of riches to choose from.

Despite South Africa’s top player Kevin Anderson not making himself available for the tie, De Jager said he was pleased that Izak van der Merwe had recovered from injury and was available.
“I am happy that Izak has recovered from his injury and this can be a good start for him” said De Jager.

It was in April of last year that van der Merwe got a chronic injury from overuse due to playing an excessive amount of tennis. “I have not played any events since surgery (a small part of the heel bone was removed) on the 18th of April last year. Davis Cup will be my first event back. I have been training for the last few months preparing hard for this tie.”
“The recovery from my heel injury has been a slow process but it has gone very well. Over the last few weeks I made great progress on the practice court. It has taken a lot of patience but I look forward to getting back on the Davis cup team and competing on the ATP Tour” said van der Merwe.

The tie will be a special one for Rik de Voest who will be playing international tennis for the first time at his home courts in Irene where he started the game at the age of 5.
“It is going to be amazing to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club,” said de Voest.” I believe the exposure to international players and the national team will further benefit the development and interest in tennis at Irene. Now nearing the end phase of my tennis career and with my long history with the club, it’s going to be extra special to play a Davis Cup tie at the club where it all began for me.”

De Jager said that de Voest and van der Merwe were very good high altitude players and Nikala Scholtz had also enjoyed great success at altitude.

Ruan Roelofse has proved, according to De Jager, to be “a great all round player that can play singles and doubles” giving the Captain good choices when naming his final four.

A key member of the team announced is the evergreen Raven Klaasen; the team’s doubles specialist. Klaasen is playing the best tennis of his career at the age of 31 yrs. Ranked 45 on the world doubles ranking, Klaasen is enjoying a solid Australian Open run where he has reached the doubles Quarter-finals with his American partner Eric Butorac. Today Klaasen and Butorac shocked top seeds and the world’s top doubles duo Bob and Mike Bryan of the USA. Last year Klaasen captured 3 titles on the ATP World Tour resulting in him breaking into the top 50 of world doubles for the first time.

I am very happy with the team to face Monaco. It is a very experienced team I selected” said De Jager. “Rik, Raven and Izak have more than 20 years of Davis Cup experience between them. It is crucial for us to win this match because we want to be back in group 1 in 2015.”

“Irene Country Club is a great venue and we hope to get lots of support from the local tennis supporters.” Added De Jager.

Monaco will be naming their side this Wednesday.

SA team and their current ranking positions: Rik de Voest (169 singles,273 doubles); Izak van der Merwe (270 protected singles ranking); Ruan Roelofse (733 singles, 196 doubles); Nikala Scholtz (954 singles; 862 doubles) and Raven Klaasen (45 doubles)

Quote from Ruan Roelofse; “I am very excited about representing South Africa again. It is always an honour and a very fun as well as hard working week, with the opportunity to learn a lot and represent my country again. Looking forward to playing at Irene Country Club I have only heard good things about it.”


OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED FOR UPCOMING DAVIS CUP

Pretoria, South Africa - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Tennis South Africa (TSA) have named their officials for the upcoming Davis Cup between South Africa and Monaco.

GeorgeP003.jpg: George Phiri

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott

PieterH003.jpg: Pieter Hoeksma

Photo credit: Tennis Australia


The tie to be played at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria from Friday 31 January to Sunday 2 February will be the start of the South African challenge to regain their spot in the Euro Africa Group 1 next year.

The Referee and ITF Representative at the Tie will be experienced umpire, Wael Abbas of Egypt.

The two chair umpires, both from Pretoria South Africa are Pieter Hoeksma and George Phiri.

Wael is no stranger to South Africa having officiated at the ATP South African Open at Montecasino and the Soweto Open. Wael, a professional official on the international circuit has officiated at all four of the Grand Slams, Olympic and Commonwealth Games and is vastly experienced in officiating in Davis Cup competition.

Hoeksma, a white badge official with the ITF started officiating in 1995. He has been chair umpire in the Davis Cup ties staged in Namibia, Botswana and Morocco and has worked the lines at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, 2012 Olympic Games, three Wimbledon Championships and four Australian Open Championships.

Phiri after qualifying as an official in 1998 received his white badge in 2007 and in 2010 was selected by TSA to work the lines at the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals in London. In 2012 Phiri was a line official at the US Open and like Hoeksma officiated at the ATP SA Open and Soweto Open events.

Entry is free of charge and seats will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.


JUAN EXPECTING A TOUGH MATCH FROM AILING MAX

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida – For a guy who has to deal with a dose of flu, sixth seeded Max Stewart of Great Britain played out of his skin in the boys Under-14 draw at the NJT International Masters at Club Med Sandpiper Bay on Wednesday.
He first put out unseeded Karlo Divkovic of Croatia 6-1 6-1 and then defeated eighth seed Rudolf Molleker of Germany 6-4 6-2 in the semifinals. “I was glad to beat Karlo 6-1 6-1 because he’s a big hitter and he’s very good.
“Molleker is very, very good, very good. He is first year Under-13 and for his age has done well to get to the semis.”
Unfortunately for Max, waiting for him in the final is Argentine Juan Otegui, the tournament’ fifth seed. He proved to be the giant-killer of the day, taking out top seed Ergi Kirken of Turkey 6-3 6-1 in the quarters and then beating unseeded but highly regarded Canadian Nicaise Muamba 6-3 6-4.
“It may look easy from the score but I had to run a lot like a crazy person,” explained Juan. “Coming into the tournament my objective was to reach the quarterfinals. Now my goal is to win it.
“I have not played Max before but I know it’s going to be a tough match, whether he is sick or not.”
Juan says his backhand is his best shot but adds that he might need to work on his serve because he sent down a lot of double faults on the day.
“This tournament is great,” he added. “Good food, beautiful girls and I made lots of friends.”
He says Rafa Nadal is his favourite player while Juan Martin del Potro is his “second favourite”.
On the other hand Max rates Del Potro his favourite. It comes as no surprise that as a resident of Birmingham he is a supporter of Aston Villa with Christian Benteke his favourite player.
He has not seen Juan play but says: “Obviously he is a good player. I’ve heard a lot about him before. He’s very solid don’t know too much.
I like to attack but today I was more of a counterpuncher because I was a bit nervous.”
Has he enjoyed playing at the NJT International Masters. “Absolutely! The food’s good, the courts are great, the venue is brilliant. It’s been fun. I knew quite a lot of the players and have got on well with them but here I’ve made good friends.”

ANASTASIA TO FACE ANOTHER LEFTIE IN TOP SEED VONDROUSOVA

Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic easily disposed of her two challengers to reach the final of the girls Under-14 draw on Wednesday. She first defeated eighth seed Ulyana Grib of Belarus 7-5 6-3 and then put out Zhima Du of China 6-3 6-1.
Her opponent will be second seeded Briton Anastasia Mikheeva. Anastasia had to work a lot harder to earn her place in the final as she first had to beat Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 before facing a tricky opponent in Anastasia Kulikova of Russia 4-6 6-3 6-4.
The Briton took quite a while to find her game against a wily left-handed opponent. “She could really strike the ball hard and I wasn’t coming into the shot. The fact she is left-handed definitely troubled me, especially on the serve. She also has the ability to run around backhand and smack it down the line.”
With the first set lost Anastasia found she started hitting through the ball a lot better. “I had more quality on the shot which meant she couldn’t attack that easily anymore.
“Once I won the second set I thought to myself you’ve got one set, carry on doing what you’re doing’. I changed my racket during the set and that helped because the strings were a lot tighter.”
In the latter stages of the set the Russian started to have the trainer on court to deal with a thigh injury but the youngster from Tennis Academy Scotland in Edinburgh was not going to let that affect her. “I tried not to pay attention to what she was doing and paid attention to myself.
“It feels amazing to be in the final. I played Marketa quite a few years ago. She’s pretty good all round but I will focus on my game, make sure my timing is right and try to bring my A game to the court.
“She is also a left-hander so it should more of the same I had today.”
Anastasia started playing when she was four years old. “My dad took me to play and I was taking the ball on the rise and he thought I had potential.”
That was not the case with her ballet lessons. “They wanted me to take ballet but I lacked grace, elegance and lacked co-ordination. I moved like a tennis player.
“I will be upset if I lost the final. This is not Wimbledon that everybody will know you afterwards. If I lose, I may even cry a bit. But if I can extract the lesson from the defeat it is a good experience.”

FRIENDSHIP TO BE LEFT IN THE TRAMLINES AS ANDREEV MEETS POPOVIC IN BOYS UNDR-12 FINAL

Two players who will be quite happy to stay out there all day and trade blows will square up in the final of the Boys Under-12 draw.
Third seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and Serbia’s Mihailo Popovic ground away at their respective opponents to book their places in the final. Mihaelo got the ball rolling with a 1-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 victory over No 6 Wotjek Marek of Poland with Adrian taking out No 7 Jack Draper of Great Britain 6-3 6-4.
Both players are fighters and the final should be an intriguing encounter. Mihaelo should have been out of his match in two sets and by his own admission, only has himself to blame for it going the distance.
Serving at 6-5, 40-30 in the second set, Mihaelo sent down a double fault to wipe out his match point and then lost his serve. He then led 5-1 in the tie-break only for Wotjek to win six consecutive points and claim the set.
“At 5-1 I thought it was over. I always say to myself ‘don’t relax’, but I do. I was concentrating for the third set but I was very unhappy. But we both stayed calm. Every point was like 20 shots.”
Mihaelo, however, was the fresher of the two players and while Wotjek battled with his consistency, it was the Bulgarian who made the fewer mistakes. He was in full control of the final set in a match that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.
Adrian was happy to keep his match down to two sets. Jack still went for his shots but the Briton did not play with the same precision as when he took out top see Adam Neff on Tuesday. “I am tired,” said Adrian. “I’ve played every day since the start of the Eddie Herr International. I lost to Adam in the final and I was sorry that I didn’t play him today so I could get my revenge.
“I will have a good sleep today because I want to be a winner tomorrow.”
His opponent believes Adrian will be spot on in the final. “Adrian is very good. He recovers fast, he’s full of energy. He’s much stronger than anybody else here,” said Mihaelo.
“I would like to win. We have played twice and I have won both but they were in Serbia.”
He added that the pair are also friends. “We’re friends off the court,” replied Adrian. “I have no friends on the court.”

TOP TWO SEEDS TO SQUARE UP IN GIRLS UNDER-12 FINAL

The seeding committee did well in the girls Under-12 draw where top seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and second seed Amanda Anisimova of the USA will contest Thursday’s final.
Ekaterina put out unseeded Anna Lahuza of Ukraine 6-3 6-3 while Amanda defeated Xiyu Wang of China 6-4 6-4.
After her match Ekaterina was coughing severely, the leftover effects of a dose of flu from last week. “I’m not feeling too well,” said the Russian. “I’m still a bit sick.”


RIK DE VOEST EXCITED THAT DAVIS CUP IS BEING PLAYED ON HIS HOME TURF

Pretoria, South Africa - When South African Davis Cup stalwart Rik De Voest was 5 years old, he enthusiastically spent hours a day hitting tennis balls with a wooden racket at the Irene Country Club just outside Pretoria.
In those days, there were only two courts at the Country Club close to his parents’ home.

Irene.jpg: South African Davis Cup player Rik de Voest at the age of 5 years old practicing at the Irene Country Club

Photo credit: De Voest family

South African Davis Cup player Rik de Voest.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


Today the Country Club is thriving and at the end of the month it will host the upcoming Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group 2 Tie, South Africa vs Monaco, from January 31 to February 2.
De Voest has made himself available and is hoping to play the Tie, although South African Captain John Laffnie De Jager has yet to name his team.

We moved to Irene in 1984 and my parents joined the club. This is where I had my first introduction to tennis and I fondly remember hitting balls with my dad with a wooden racket, so effectively this is where my tennis all started” said De Voest. “I took my first tennis lessons at the Irene Country Club, and because we lived close by, I made use of the courts frequently in my younger years.”

After De Voest turned professional Irene Country Club became involved in a tennis initiative with the local farm school. De Voest gave the project his full support.
“Over the years I have been lucky enough to see the growth of this program and follow the success of the players that have passed through it. I have always donated all my used tennis rackets and clothing and footwear to the programme over the years.”

Recently the tennis side of the club has undergone a renovation which included the addition of new courts. This has increased the popularity of tennis at the club and attracted new members.
“It would be amazing to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club,” said De Voest.” I believe the exposure to international players and the national team will further benefit the development and interest in tennis at Irene. Now nearing the end phase of my tennis career and with my long history with the club, it would be extra special to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club where it all began for me.”

South Africa and Monaco are expected to name their sides for the tie mid-January. According to Davis Cup rules, both teams have the right to name their squads up until 10 days before the commencement of the tie.

The tie will be played on a hard court with seats for 700 spectators.

Programme for the tie:

Friday 31 January: 9.45am Opening Ceremony. The first singles match will start at 10am with the second rubber following immediately thereafter.

Saturday 1 February: 12.00pm Doubles Match

Sunday 2 February: 10am: First reverse singles match, followed by final singles match.

All the matches are played as the best of five sets until a result has been achieved.

Admission will be free on first come first serve basis, for unreserved seats


TOP SA JUNIOR TENNIS PLAYERS DO BATTLE IN TSHWANE

Pretoria, South Africa – Tennis fever has hit the countries capital as over 500 tennis players from across the country arrive in Pretoria, Tshwane to participate in the Dunlop Open which takes place from 8 – 12 January. All the finals will be played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium on Sunday 12 January.

The annual tournament is one of Gauteng North’s premier tennis event and is part of the national Key Health series, making it one of the most prestigious tennis events in the country. One of the strongest line-ups of players has confirmed their entry for the 2014 event.

Boys and girls in the under 10, 12, 14, 16 age categories , will compete in singles and doubles events in different tennis clubs throughout Pretoria as well as at Gauteng North Tennis Association’s headquarters in Groenkloof. There will also be a men and women’s event for players over the age of 16 years.

Clark Coetzee, President of Gauteng North Tennis says the association is ready to deliver a great event. “We are excited at hosting another edition of the Dunlop Open. The tournament has proved to be a success in the past and together with our sponsors, Dunlop, we are looking to make this our flagship tournament of the year.

Super-Brands Marketing Director, Steve Gallienne said that his company’s brand, Dunlop were happy to be part of the tournament. “We are delighted to be associated with an event boasting the cream of South Africa’s up and coming tennis players. As one of the world’s leading brands, we continue to commit ourselves to the development of tennis in our country especially at grassroots level”, he said.

The under 10 age group will be hosted by Lynnwood Tennis Club. The boys and girls under 12 matches will take place at University of Pretoria with the boys under 14 at Groenkloof Stadium. The girls under 14 will be played in Menlo Alkant Tennis Club. Groenkloof will also host the boys under 16 with the girls under 16 age group being hosted by Menlo Alkant. The men and women’s events will be staged at Afrikaans Hoer Seunskool.


NEW YEAR CALL UP FOR SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS PLAYERS

A strong line-up of junior players have been named by Tennis South Africa (TSA) to represent the country at the 2014 International Tennis Federation (ITF)/Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) Southern African Junior Championships.

The Championships will be held in Botswana from 4-12 January 2014 in Gaborone, Botswana.

In Botswana, team South Africa will be trying to qualify for the African Junior Championships to be held in Kenya in March.

Included in the South African team are eleven year old Zoe Kruger who although is u12 will head the u14 team. Kruger is coached by Thomas Hogstedt, coach of Caroline Wozniaki.
Richard Thongoane impresses in making the u16 team as a 1st year u16. Thongoane returned from a recent tour of the USA where he enjoyed a good run at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters.
Khololwam Montsi formally from the Eastern Cape but now living in Pretoria is the no.1 u12 in team. Montsi like Thongoane are players of colour who have emerged as part of the TSA Development Programme and dominate as top ranked players in their respective age groups.

The teams are:
Girls Under 12
Lara van der Merwe (NW)
Boys Under 12
Khololwam Montsi (GN)
Girls Under 14
Zoe Kruger (GN)
Corin de Waal (BOL)
Boys Under 14
Philip Henning (FS)
Christiaan Worst (GN)
Girls Under 16
Zani Barnard (GN)
Lee Barnard (GN)
Boys Under 16
Calvin Jordaan (WP)
Richard Thongoane (GC)

The coaches who will be travelling with the team have been announced as Terrey Schweitzer (GE) and Jared Temlett (KZN).

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