SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WORLD TENNIS DAY

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa will join more than 60 countries in celebrating the second World Tennis Day on Monday 3 March.

World Tennis Day was introduced last year by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) with the aim of promoting tennis and increasing participation around the globe. Former world number ones, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe will appear in tennis events in Hong Kong, London and New York.

Initial plans for World Tennis Day celebrations in South Africa had been centred around wheelchair tennis, in recognition of the great progress in this format. The celebration was to have taken the form of an Ability Challenge, in which top players and celebrities would pit themselves against South Africa’s wheelchair superstars like Lucas Sithole; South African number one and world number two quad player, KG Montjane; South Africa’s top female wheelchair player, and Evans Moripa; top-ranked South African male player.

The Ability Challenge was to have been held at OR Tambo, with sponsors Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) setting up a full-sized tennis court at the Airport. However, because World Tennis Day clashes with the arrival of the Brazilian soccer team in South Africa, it has been decided to postpone the Challenge until April 8.

Disabled sport is globally becoming more recognized and Airports Company South Africa has earmarked wheelchair tennis as the disability code they are committed to supporting. Airports Company South Africa has shown their support by playing a large role in exposing more people to wheelchair tennis and to South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis players.

WTSA General Manager Karen Losch said that having Airports Company South Africa’s support and an event of this magnitude at OR Tambo is a great opportunity to showcase the sport; “Being able to host this event at OR Tambo is a huge opportunity, and we are very proud to have Airports Company South Africa back us on this initiative. The achievements of our wheelchair players have made South Africa so proud, and so it seems only fitting that we should showcase them at South Africa’s premier Airport. We hope people will turn out in numbers on April 8 to join in the fun and celebrate our wheelchair superstars.”

Despite the postponement of the Ability Challenge, the rest of the WTSA World Tennis Day celebrations remain unchanged with wheelchair tennis clinics taking place in centres around South Africa this coming weekend.

As part of the celebrations, Tennis South Africa (TSA) has arranged for a top Israeli coach, Ronen Moralli, to visit South Africa. Moralli will arrive on World Tennis Day and will conduct workshops and coaching clinics at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto.

“Tennis is a game of a lifetime and it’s important that South Africa as one of the founding members of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) joins nations from all over the world in celebrating this beautiful game on World Tennis Day. By celebrating World Tennis Day at the Arthur Ashe in Soweto, we are sending out a message to the world that tennis is being enjoyed in all corners of South Africa, and the game is playing a vital role in the development of the youth on a sporting, physical and social level” said Wire Zondi, president of Tennis South Africa.

At the Grand Old Lady of the game in eThekwini Westridge Park, KZN Tennis will have an open day on Sunday 2 March for junior players under the age of 12 where all KZN coaches will be on hand to promote and teach youngsters skills of the game.


INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR TENNIS RETURNS TO POTCHEFSTROOM

Potchefstroom, South Africa – North West Province will once again host international tennis with NWU-PUKKE staging two International Tennis Federation Junior tennis tournaments at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy on the University campus in Potchefstroom starting next week.

The first of the back to back tournaments, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 1 will start on Monday 3 March with the finals scheduled for Friday 7 March. The second, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 2 will be played from the 10-14 March. Both tournaments form part of the International Tennis Federation’s Junior Circuit, with both tournaments having a Grade 2 status.

Junior tennis players from 19 countries have started jetting into South Africa to participate in these two tournaments.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome our visiting players from all over the world to our shores. North West Province and NWU-PUKKE have proved over the years to be excellent hosts. They have successfully hosted Davis Cup ties and other international tennis events so I am confident these next two weeks will go down very well” said acting CEO of Tennis South Africa, Gavin Crookes.

There are players from Austria, Poland, Bahamas, Japan, Canada, Egypt, Hungary, Tunisia, USA, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Slovenia, Serbia, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Israel, France, Portugal, and South Africa competing in both events.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA IN TALKS WITH ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa have been in talks with the Israeli Tennis Federation for some time about an exchange programme between Israel and South Africa. As a result Israel will be sending one of their top coaches; Ronen Moralli to South Africa. Ronen will be arriving in South Africa on World Tennis Day on the 03 March and will be in South Africa until the 15 of March with the task of hosting workshops and assisting the coaching structure in Soweto at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex.

Top Israel tennis coach Ronen Moralli.

Photo credit: Israel Tennis Association


Ronen Moralli is one of the world’s most reputed coaches. Moralli started coaching in 1990 and has coached the likes of Harel Levy and Noam Okun who reached world ranking highs of 30 and 95 respectively. Moralli also coached the top Israeli Davis Cup team of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich.


SENIOR TENNIS TEAMS ANNOUNCED FOR ITF SENIORS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa today (Tuesday) announced their Seniors teams to participate in the ITF Seniors World Championships in Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton, Florida, USA 2014.

The team tournament will be played from 21-26 April, 2014. The team tournament will be followed by the individual event to be played from 27 April-4 May, 2014.

The 34th ITF Seniors World Championships forms part of the international senior ranking circuit and will host singles, doubles and mixed doubles events in the Men’s and Women’s 35-55 age groups.

The tournaments will be played on Har-Tru (green clay) courts at the PGA National Resort & Spa, Ballenisles Country Club, Mirasol Country Club, City of Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Centre, Boca Grove, Polo Club, Woodfield Country Club and Boca West Country Club.

The South African team selected is as follows;


MEN
35+ ITALIA CUP





Dawie Eybers (GN)
Dale Buckett (GN) Captain
Brendan Zackey (GC)
Johannes van der Westhuizen (GN)

40+ TONY TRABERT CUP

Bruce Young (KZN)
Robbie Sulcas (WP)
Marco Petersen (GC) Captain

45+ DUBLER CUP

Simon Edmonds (GN)
Charl Muntingh (GN)
Eugene Beneke (GN) Captain

50+ FRED PERRY CUP

Marcus Esterhuizen (NWP) Captain
Clive Wilson (GC)
Neil Smith (GC)

55+ AUSTRIA CUP

Adam Myburgh (GC)
Duard Botha (GC) Captain
Archie Rudman (Bol)

WOMEN
35+ SUZANNE LENGLEN CUP

Lisa van der Riet (GN)
Jacqui Boyd (WP)
Zelda Smook (GC) Captain

40+ YOUNG CUP

Tracey Bulmer (GC)
Sally Estcourt (WP) Captain
Annerie Wessels (GN)

45+ MARGARET COURT CUP

Lettica Venter (KZN) Captain
Zaida Beukes (WP)
Maretha Sauer (Bol)

50+ MARIA ESTHER BUENO CUP

Ronel Louw (GN) Captain
Melvena Conradie (GN)
Mariette Coetzee (GN)

55+ MAUREEN CONNOLLY CUP




Elna Botha (GC)
Jeanette Robert (KZN)
Jennifer Cerff (WP)
Alma Goosen (Bol)


KEVIN ANDERSON LOSES IN FINAL OF ATP DELRAY BEACH OPEN

Delray Beach, Florida USA - South African tennis ace Kevin Anderson late Sunday lost in the final of the ATP Delray Beach Open in Florida, USA.

Kevin Anderson in action at the Delray Beach Open.
Photo credit: Delray Beach Open


In form seventh seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia won his second title of 2014 when he beat fourth seeded Kevin Anderson 7-6(6) 6-7(7) 6-4. It was Cilic’s 11th ATP World Tour title and his circuit-leading 18th match victory of the year.

It was Kevin Anderson’s fourth consecutive defeat in an ATP World Tour final (2-5) since hoisting the Delray Beach trophy in 2012.

At three hours and eight minutes, it was the longest final in tournament history, surpassing the 1996 title match between Jason Stoltenberg and Chris Woodruff by 34 minutes

Anderson, clearly disappointed after the loss said, “in the third [set], I just didn’t put down the clamps of getting back in the match and giving myself a chance. He was going to take one of his chances. He had a fair amount. If I would have capitalised a little more I would have put myself in a better position to win the title. I was happy making the final, but obviously a little disappointed.”


DAVIS & FED CUP CAPTAINS CONFIRMED BY TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) announces their Davis and Fed Cup Captains on the morning of Friday 14 February.

Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


The national tennis body has made the decision to separate the roles of Davis and Fed Cup Captains. Until the end of last year John-Laffnie De Jager held both positions. “The TSA Board decided that two captains needed to be appointed. TSA is of the firm opinion that the Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain’s roles could be specifically focused on the Men’s and Ladies Team Events respectively. This gave TSA the opportunity to appoint captains who specialise in the men’s and women’s game” said Gavin Crookes, TSA acting CEO.

TSA announced that John Laffnie De Jager would stay on as Davis Cup captain and Earl Grainger would take over as Fed Cup captain. Both De Jager and Grainger will take responsibilities of their roles for the two year period 2014/2015.

De Jager was first appointed Davis Cup captain in September 2005 when South Africa travelled to Casablanca to play against Morocco. South Africa lost that tie 1-4 but in his four terms as Davis Cup captain, De Jager has managed to get South Africa to four World Group play-off opportunities games vs India (2009), Germany (2010), Croatia (2011) and Canada (2012).

South Africa last played in the World Group in 1998. Ranked 32 on the Davis Cup rankings, De Jager has set a goal to get South Africa back into the top 20 of world tennis nations.

Under De Jager’s captaincy South Africa were relegated to Euro Africa Zone Group II this year but had an impressive 3-2 home tie win against Monaco earlier this month at the Irene Country Club in Tshwane. In round two, South Africa will play against Lithuania at the same venue from 4-6 April 2014.

De Jager said he was excited to establish the next generation of South African tennis stars. “We certainly have the young guns available to make it into the World Group. I have introduced them as part of the squad over the past two years and they have and will continue to grow in the great environment we create during the Davis Cup weeks.”

De Jager, who is a regular traveller on the international circuit, added that he was looking forward to sharing what he has witnessed at the top tennis tournaments he has attended with the South African Davis Cup team. “I feel this gives players access to information and developments they don’t necessarily have access to at their current level” said De Jager.

It will be the first time Bedfordview based Earl Grainger will take the role of Fed Cup captain.

Grainger was ranked in the top five of junior tennis in South Africa, has represented the country at the Orange Bowl and Rolex International in the USA as a junior, was the youngest player to represent South Africa at the Maccabi Games and had a successful four years on a NCAA scholarship at the University of Tennessee.

Today, Grainger is one of the most successful tennis coaches in the country. His Earl Grainger Tennis Academy in Gauteng Central has produced players to the likes of Davis Cup players Dean O’Brien, Ruan Roelofse and Fed Cup players Chanel Simmonds and Natasha Fourocalas.

Grainger’s biggest success story is undoubtedly Chanel Simmonds, who over the years he has developed from a top junior player to South Africa’s number two world ranked female player who has reached as high as 158 on the WTA rankings. For the past 7 years, Grainger has been travelling with Simmonds on the international circuit.

Grainger said he was honoured with his appointment and that he saw the appointment as a reward for his hard work and dedication. “It’s true; good things come to people who work hard, have loyalty and are honest. Quite honestly, the appointment came as a shock to me. I am very, very proud and very thankful to be given this wonderful opportunity to captain the Fed cup side”

The South African Fed Cup team will travel to Siauliai, Lithuania from 16-19 April 2014 where they will compete in Europe/Africa Zone Group II for the third successive year following their promotion from Group III in 2011.

South Africa is currently ranked 52 on the world Fed Cup rankings.


NIKE JUNIOR TOUR CANCELLED WORLD WIDE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Nike Inc. announced today that the global Nike Junior Tour (NJT) which was launched in 1997 will no longer be played around the world.

With a result, South Africa who have been part of the world’s biggest tennis initiative since 1998 will no longer host a local Nike Junior Tour. In 1998, multiple Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi and former world number 3 Amanda Coetzer (patron of the NJT in South Africa) jointly launched the local NJT at the Parow Tennis Club in the Western Cape.

Bruce Davidson, owner of the Nike Junior Tour South African rights, said it was disappointing that Nike had decided to cancel the global tour. “I met with Nike officials in the USA late last year and they confirmed that South Africa, which is one of the 41 countries around the world that participate in the NJT, would no longer be hosting the Nike Junior Tour in the country. This is a major disappointment for local tennis development as the NJT, which catered for under 14 and 12 players, was one of the great success stories of junior tennis in South Africa.”

Davidson said that Nike had decided to restructure their tennis development focus. “Nike have used the NJT as a scouting tool and it was costing a lot of money to run the NJT in 41 countries on five continents. Without being able to do a proper scouting job at each of the 41 events, Nike had decided the NJT was not financially viable. Nike have decided to hold a Nike Junior Tour International Masters each year and they have assured me our South African juniors will be considered for this annual ‘invitation only” event.”

South Africa was the first country outside Europe to be included in the NJT and top players to the likes of Kevin Anderson, Izak van der Merwe, Chanel Simmonds and Wayne Montogomery all participated successfully in the local NJT. Even Australian star, Matthew Ebden was a participant on the local South African NJT before leaving Durban and immigrating with his parents to Australia.

In 2004, South Africa won the coveted NJT team trophy in Nice, France and have been runners-up on four other occasions.

“The world have always recognised our junior talent and the junior structures Tennis South Africa have in place. South Africa were the first NJT country to partner their national tennis association and link the NJT to the existing tournament circuit. The success of this, instead of creating a separate NJT in each country prompted leading tennis nations like Spain, Germany and Australia to follow suite” said Davidson.

World number 1, Rafael Nadal is probably the most famous Nike Junior Tour graduate. Nadal won three of the four possible NJT titles he participated in including the title at Sun City in the year 2000 when South Africa hosted the Nike Junior Tour International Masters there.

Tennis South Africa (TSA) have confirmed that they are busy negotiating with a possible sponsor to replace the Nike Junior Tour in the country.

“The NJT was so incredibly popular and successful it makes sense for TSA to replace it with a similar product and also include the older age groups. TSA are well down the line in arranging this and an official announcement will be made shortly in this regard” said Gavin Crookes, Acting TSA CEO.


IRENE COUNTRY CLUB WILL AGAIN PLAY HOST TO ANOTHER DAVIS CUP TIE BY PNP PARIBAS

Irene, South Africa - South Africa will face Lithuania from 4-6 April 2014 in a second round Euro Africa Zone Group II tie. Tennis South Africa (TSA) confirmed that Irene Country Club in Centurion, Tshwane is the chosen venue for the all-important tie.

The Irene Country Club match court where South Africa will face Lithuania from 4-6 April 2014 in a second round of the Davis Cup Euro Africa Zone Group II tie.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


South Africa and Lithuania meet for the first time in the history of the competition with the victor progressing to a promotion play-off and the chance to advance to Europe Africa Zone Group I.
South Africa are trying bounce straight back having been relegated last year while Lithuania have never been higher than Zone Group II in the 20 years they have competed in Davis Cup.
South Africa beat Monaco 3-2 at the same venue earlier this month in round one of the Euro Africa Zone Group II.

Gavin Crookes, Acting CEO of TSA said that his organisation had formed a good working partnership with Irene Country Club and it made sense due to this working relationship - and popularity of the venue - that Davis Cup returns to Irene. “The last tie was a huge success and it was mainly due to the hard working and committed Irene Country Club committee and their fabulous venue. The players loved the venue and also requested to TSA to return there.”

Crookes added that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) had requested that the match court at Irene Country Club be increased in size to abide by international Davis Cup regulations. “When the ITF asked us to increase the size of the match court, we approached Irene Country Club and they had no hesitation in accepting the ITF conditions and have assured TSA that they will increase the court size accordingly, which in the long term will benefit the club.”

Craig Herbst, Chairman of Irene Country Club Tennis said that they are excited to be hosting Davis Cup again; “We were delighted to receive such overwhelmingly positive feedback about Irene Country Club as a Davis Cup Venue after the last tie. The Club has taken a decision that the hosting of such events forms part of our strategic planning, and intends to partner closely with Tennis South Africa in helping to bring the magic of tennis to more and more South Africans. We look forward to welcoming Team South Africa back to the venue, and hosting Team Lithuania for the first time.”


SOUTH AFRICAN RAVEN KLAASEN WINS U.S. NATIONAL INDOOR TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS (MEMPHISU.S.A.)

Memphis, USA - South African tennis ace Raven Klaasen teamed up with American partner Eric Butorac to win the $ 648, 000.00 US National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis, USA late last night (Sunday).

Second seeds, Butorac and Klaasen upset top seeds and world number one pairing, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 6-4 in the final.

This is the second time this season Butorac and Klaasen have beaten the Bryan brothers. Early this year, Butorac and Klaasen upset the twins in the third round of the Australian Open where they won through to the finals.

Defending champions the Bryan’s were bidding for their fourth Memphis crown (2001, 2004, 2013).

It was Raven Klaasen’s fourth ATP title and Butorac’s 15th ATP title and second Memphis title (2007).

This is the second title for Butorac and Klaasen (first in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2013 ) and their third final together.

Raven Klaasen said the win “feels really good”. “This is my first time in Memphis and playing in front of that crowd in the final was exciting for us. The Bryan brothers have a great record everywhere you go. We got off to a great start in the match and were fortunate to keep it going for the entire match.”

Butorac said “to get a win over the Bryans solidifies what we did in Australia and we’re on the right path to being one of the top teams in the world. We need to keep improving and getting better.”

Butorac and Klaasen now travel to Florida, USA for the ATP Delray Beach Open being played this week. They are seeded second in Delray Beach behind American’s Bob and Mike Bryan.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA JOINS HANDS WITH THE SWISS TENNIS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The President of the Swiss Tennis Federation and current International Tennis Federation Board Member, Mr. Rene Stammbach is on a private visit to South Africa. He paid a courtesy visit to the President of Tennis South Africa, Mr Bongani Zondi, together with whom he is exploring bilateral tennis relations between the two countries. He also visited the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre on Thursday where he met the coaches doing coaching at the Centre.

From left to right: Frank Thloaele (Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre Coordinator), Rene Stammbach (President Swiss Tennis Federation), Moses Nthuping (Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre coach), Robert Zondo (Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre coach), and Thabo Matlhaela (Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre coach)
Photo credit: Tennis South Africa


GLASGOW HERE WE COME

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is hard work ahead for the SPAR National Netball Team, who are gearing up to make their presence felt at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. Team management believe the SPAR Proteas have made enough progress since the 2010 Games in Delhi to be in a position to challenge for a medal.

Nadia Uys defends against Thuli Qegu at the SPAR Proteas squad camp held in Potchefstroom this past weekend.
Picture by: Mario van de Wall.


As part of their preparations for the Games, the SPAR Proteas will travel to Dubai in April for a Quad Series tournament against England, Jamaica and Malawi. “This will be excellent preparation for the Games,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director: Selection, Christine du Preez.

“England are ranked third, Jamaica fourth and Malawi fifth in the world, and we need to beat them to have a chance of claiming a medal. “We have beaten all of them in the past – in fact, we’ve beaten Malawi three times in a row – and this Quad Series will give us another opportunity to test ourselves against them. We know we can beat them all – we’ve done it before, and so we’ll approach the Quad Series with a very positive attitude,” she said.

Last year, NSA named a 35-member training squad to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. Members of the squad are all following rigorous training programmes and they will also attend a series of training camps. After the most recent training camp, held in Potchefstroom last weekend, players had to undergo a number of trials and skills assessments. “A few younger players impressed the selectors” said du Preez, “some of the older SPAR Proteas will have to work hard if they want to keep their positions in the team.”

The next training camp will be taking place from the 7th – 9th March, where the final squad will be selected.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA NAME TEAM FOR AFRICAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa today names their team of 18 and under players for the upcoming African Junior Championships to be played in Casablanca , Morocco from 17 to 22 February 2014 .

The team is as follows;

Girls:
Ilze Hattingh (GN)
Theresa van Zyl (NC)
Janet Koch (BOL)
Marli van Heerden (SWD)
Sarah Sarjoo (GC)

Boys:
Brandon Laubser (GC)
Lloyd Harris (WP)
Kris Van Wyk (BOL)
Francois Kellerman (BOL)
Ruben Alberts (GN)

The team will be participating in an International Tennis Federation Grade 1 tournament in Morocco prior to the African Junior Championships.

The coaches who will be accompanying the team are Allan Karam (GN) and Bridget Visee (WP).

The players will be doing battle for individual titles during the Championships and also playing for selection for the ITF Grand Slam touring team to Junior French and Wimbledon Grand Slams.

Each players performance in Morocco will earn Team South Africa points for South Africa’s defence of its African Junior Championship status.


NEVILLE GODWINEXCITED AND PRIVILEGEDTO COACH KEVIN ANDERSON

South Africa - Former top 100-ranked tennis player Neville Godwin admitted he was shocked when asked to coach Kevin Anderson.
“I was taken totally unawares,” said Godwin. “Kevin called me in mid-December to ask if I was interested.
“Obviously I am excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I feel privileged that Kevin came to me.”
The position to coach the world No 22 opened up when his current mentor, New Zealander GD Jones, decided to take up a position in the financial world with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Auckland.

Picture caption:
Neville: Neville Godwin
Picture credit: ATP World Tour


Godwin, who was ranked as high as 90 in singles, was only 1.73m tall and had to use his wiles in order to win matches. He played a solid serve-and-volley game and had an uncanny ability analyse his opponents’ games. “That was my strength. I had to compensate for my size and I tend to see the game slightly differently to others. I was always able to read an opponent and expose his weaknesses.”

Godwin feels there are a couple of places Anderson could sharpen up his game. “I am happy with his movement and the way he strikes the ball. But I would like to help him with the placements of his volleys and I think his service percentage could be better.”

Improving Anderson’s volleys looks to be another goal. “I believe Kevin is looking for a way to shorten points and in any case I think he’s a better player when he comes forward.”
There will be a three-month trial period in which they both will assess the situation. Godwin will join Anderson in the USA this week and they will practice in Delray Beach, Florida and their first tournament together will be the Delray Beach tournament starting on February 17.

After that they will move on to Acapulco, then to Indian Wells and Miami. “To me Kevin has a similar game to American John Isner but he has a more complete game. If Isner could get into the top 10 then I see no reason why Kevin can’t.”

Anderson says he is “enthusiastic about this new partnership”. “Hopefully his diverse knowledge and experience will be just what’s needed to elevate my game to the next level, not to mention I’ll enjoy having someone to chat to on tour about South African cricket and rugby.”


South Africa have beaten Monaco 3-2 to advance to round two of the Euro/Africa 2 Davis Cup competiti

South Africa have beaten Monaco 3-2 to advance to round two of the Euro/Africa 2 Davis Cup competition.

Rik de Voest the South African number one, salvaged some pride on Sunday when he came out and confidently beat Monaco number one Benjamin Balleret 7-6 (3) 6-2 6-3 at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria.

Rik de Voest of South Africa in action against Benjamin Balleret of Monaco during the Reverse singles of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Monaco at the Irene Country Club on Sunday.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


It was a very different de Voest that came onto court Sunday than who did battle on Friday. When de Voest lost the opening rubber on Friday against Romain Arneodo, he struggled with serve and didn’t play the big points well. But on Sunday de Voest was on top of his game and troubled Balleret from start to finish.
“I just felt so motivated and on fire today” said de Voest. “I put up a big fight on Friday but didn’t play that well. Today I played well. I was motivated to do well and restore some pride in front of my home crowd fans.”
Balleret said that he always knew de Voest was going to be a tough opponent. “We both had lost going into Sunday’s rubber so whoever lost on Sunday was going to be loser of the weekend. I didn’t want that and nor did Rik and I must give credit to Rik for lifting his game to the level he did. He was far the better player out there.”

In the final rubber of the tie, due to the tie already having been decided, Referee Wael Abbas announced that the rubber would be contested over three tie break sets. Romain Arneodo took the opening set 7-5 against Nik Scholtz when Scholtz threw in the towel due to a persistent hip flexor strain.

South African Captain, John-Laffnie De Jager was delighted with the win. “A win is a win. We are so happy that we could pull off the win against Monaco in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. I must give credit to Monaco for the big fight they put up. But huge applause to the South African lads for pulling off the win. Rik was a very different player on Sunday. Rik was the Rik I am used to and he proved once again to be such a crucial part of our side.”

De Jager had huge compliments for the Irene Country Club and crowds. “Irene Country Club is a perfect Davis Cup venue. My team and Monaco have thoroughly enjoyed the stay and warm hospitality and compliments to the Club for being such magnificent hosts. The fans came out in their droves. We had full houses on the weekend and it proves that there are a ton of people out there that are loyal and passionate about tennis and are hungry to see the local stars in action.”

South Africa will now face Lithuania at home from 4-6 April 2014. Tennis South Africa will be announcing the venue of the April home tie in the next few weeks.

DAVIS CUP EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP 2 – SECOND ROUND
SOUTH AFRICA vs MONACO

Venue: Irene Country Club, Pretoria, South Africa (hard court – outdoor)

Results

South Africa beat Monaco 3-2

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

Saturday 01 February 2014 (10h00)

Nik Scholtz (RSA) beat Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-5 7-6 (3) 3-6 3-6 6-3

Followed by

Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) beat Guillaume Couillard/Thomas Oger (Mon) 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3

Sunday 02 February 2014 (10h00)

Rik De Voest (RSA) beat Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-6 (3) 6-2 6-3

Followed by

Nik Scholtz (RSA) lost to Romain Arneodo (Mon) 7-5 (Scholtz returned from a leg injury)


Nik Scholtz (RSA) beat Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-5 7-6 (3) 3-6 3-6 6-3

Nik Scholtz went to bed Friday night a happy man. He was a set up (7-5) against a player ranked some 600 spots higher than him on the world ranking and although he was 1-3 down when bad light stopped play, he knew he had the upper hand.
The South African returned to court on Saturday “oozing” with confidence and ready for the fight. But 31 year old Benjamin Balleret, his experienced opponent was ready for the fight.

Nik Scholtz of South Africa celebrates after defeating Benjamin Balleret of Monaco during the second singles of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Monaco at the Irene Country Club on Saturday.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Scholtz started well and broke serve twice to force the second set into the breaker which he won comfortable 7-3.
But Balleret using over 10 years of Davis Cup experience pounced on a slump in the Scholtz play in the third set and took it 3-6. Balleret continued to dominate and mastered the strong Scholtz serve, returning with precision, and took the fourth set 3-6.
The capacity crowd realised that Scholtz needed to pick himself up and they joined hands in helping the 23 year old NCAA College player do just that. With huge support Scholtz started well breaking Balleret early in the final set then holding to win the match 7-5 7-6 (3) 3-6 3-6 6-3.
The epic match lasted in total 3 hours 36 minutes.
Following victory and a run of high fives to Captain John-Laffnie De Jager and his team mates, Scholtz made an emotional run to the opposite side of the court to hug his father Calla, the former Western Province Rugby full back and they two in arms shed a few tears of joy.
“That was an emotional win” said Scholtz after victory. “My parents have been such a big part of my success and I give credit to them for the love and support they unconditionally give me at all times.”
Balleret said he had his chances and was disappointed he lost. “I had my chances and blew them. That’s tennis.” Balleret also had some words of advice for his younger opponent. “Nik has a great future, he is talented player with a big serve which is a major weapon. I think if Nik can work on his baseline game and move more to the net after his big serve he could be a better player.”

Match Report 3
Saturday 1 February 2014
Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) beat Guillaume Couillard/Thomas Oger (Mon) 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3

It was then the much anticipated doubles rubber that took to court. The crowds came out in force to get a chance to see Australian Open doubles finalist Raven Klaasen play in the flesh and Klaasen didn’t disappoint. Together with Ruan Roelofse, the South African’s fought a hard five setter against the Monacan pair of Thomas Oger and Guillaume Couillard. The South African pair won 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 to give South Africa the important point going into the final day on Sunday.

Captain John-Laffnie De Jager admitted that he had some nervous moments on court in the doubles. “It was a tough one. My boys started so well but then the Monaco pair picked up their game and all of a sudden it was two sets a piece. I told Raven and Ruan to relax, go back to the basics and play like they did in the start of the match. I am proud that under pressure they did just that and the strategy worked and they were able to close out a win.”

Klaasen said that he and Roelofse got a bit complacent in the third set. “We had a game plan and things started running away from us and all of a sudden we were in a spot of trouble. John-Laffnie got us to regroup and remember our original plan to be solid on the returns, make sure of our serves and close in at the net. Once we got back to that plan we were on top of things again.”

Roelofse said that it was a memorable match win. “Playing with Raven was an honour. To play for my country is always a highlight. I was glad to be able to bring that important doubles point to the team. It was tough. Our opponents played hard and smart but the crowds were fantastic and helped Raven and I take the match.”

So with South Africa leading Monaco 2-1, the home side need to win only one of the two reverse singles on Sunday to secure victory.

First out at 10h00 on Sunday will be the number ones, Rik de Voest (RSA) and Benjamin Balleret (Mon) followed by the battle of the number two players Nik Scholtz (RSA) and Romain Arneodo (Mon).

DAVIS CUP EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP 2 – SECOND 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

Saturday 01 February 2014 (10h00)

Nik Scholtz (RSA) beat Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-5 7-6 (3) 3-6 3-6 6-3

Followed by

Opening Ceremony

Followed by

Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) beat Guillaume Couillard/Thomas Oger (Mon) 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3

Sunday 02 February 2014 (10h00)

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

Followed by

Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Romain Arneodo (Mon)

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