South African Davis Cup captain, Marcos Ondruska announced 19-year-old Lloyd Harris and Nik Scholtz as his No1 and No2 nominated singles players at the official draw for this weekend’s Euro Africa Group 2 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie between South Africa and Estonia.
The tie will be played at the Irene Country Club, Pretoria from Friday to Sunday.
South Africa’s top 15 ranked world doubles player, Raven Klaasen, will spearhead the South African doubles challenge and Ondruska nominated Ruan Roelofse, as his partner for the doubles rubber on Saturday.
World No517 Scholtz, will get South Africa’s weekend campaign under way against Estonia on Friday, following the morning’s opening ceremony.
Scholtz’s name was drawn from the hat first by Irene Country Club President, Henry Van Der Byl and he’ll open against Estonian No1, Jurgen Zopp ranked 317. This will be the first time that the two have met.
This will be followed by the second singles rubber between Harris and Estonian number two Vladimir Ivanov, ranked 288 and 442 respectively. The two will also be meeting for the first time.
On Saturday Raven Klaasen and Roelofse will team up and play against Kenneth Raisma and Mattias Siimar.
On Sunday the reverse singles will be played from 10h00 with the number one players battling it out first, then followed by the number two players.
The draw for the first round Group 2 Europe/Africa tie was conducted at the Irene Dairy Farm on Thursday.
Captain Ondruska and his team remain upbeat yet cautious about their chances this weekend. ‘We have the best possible side experience-wise for this tie. I am very happy with how we have been preparing. And Wayne Ferreira, my consultant coach, and I are happy with the way the players are striking the ball and adapting to the conditions.’
Ondruska said that he believed the team assembled for this weekend is the best for the job. ‘My boys are passionate about playing for their country and will do us all proud following a very happy mood in the camp. We are at the building stage and working our way to a spot in the World Group.’
The most senior South African player in the team, Raven Klaasen said he was happy that Roelofse had been named as his partner for Saturday as the two have played successfully together before.
‘I see this as an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles rubber on Saturday,’ said Klaasen. ‘Ruan and I have a good record together and 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.’
This is the fourth time the two will have partnered each other in Davis Cup competition. Scholtz admitted he wasn’t an ‘early bird’ but seeing his name had come out the hat first he would have to adjust and be prepared. ‘I will just have to wake up that little earlier and get to the courts early to prepare for my rubber. I have all my family coming to watch so it’s very exciting.’
Estonian’s top player Jurgen Zopp said his team were improving with the change in altitude day by day. ‘We are hitting the ball much better day by day. When we arrived the altitude was a challenge but we are feeling better about that and the court; and we’ll complete our preparations and be as ready as ever for South Africa.’
Zopp said that although he was not nominated for the doubles he would be ready to play on all three days. ‘I have played many ties for Estonia and have played singles and doubles so I’m ready for whatever my captain decides.’
This is the first time that the two nations have met in Davis Cup competition.
The playing programme:
Friday: Opening ceremony (9.45am) followed by singles: Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Jurgen Zopp (EST) followed by Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs. Vladimir Ivanov (EST)
Saturday doubles (start 12 noon SA time): Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse (RSA) vs. Kenneth Raisma and Mattias Siimar (EST)
Sunday reverse singles (10am SA time): Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs. Jurgen Zopp (EST) followed by Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs. Vladimir Ivanov (EST).
In the picture with Klaasen are teammates (from left) Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Ruan Roelofse and team captain Marcos Ondruska. Pictures courtesy of Reg Caldecott
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