South Africa made a disappointing start to their Fed Cup Euro Africa Group 1 campaign being played in Israel on Wednesday. Drawn into Pool B with second seeds Great Britain and Georgia, South Africa faced Georgia in their opening tie at the Municipal Tennis Centre in Eilat. Georgia beat South Africa 3-0 which means that should South Africa have any chance of playing for promotion come the weekend they will have to beat the fancied Great Britain team on Thursday.
Madrie Le Roux, the South African number two opened procedures but lost to Georgia number one, Ekaterine Gergodze 3-6, 1-6 in a rubber that lasted 18 minutes short of two hours. Then it was the turn of South African number one, Chanel Simmonds against Georgia number two Sophia Shapatava. Ranked some 100 places higher than her opponent at 226, Shapatava played smartly and consistently to beat Simmonds 7-5, 6-4. The victory secured her side the tie win.
In the dead doubles rubber, Ekaterine Gergodze returned to court and together with Keteryna Bondarenko beat South Africa’s Illze Hattingh and Michelle Sammons 6-4, 7-6 (6) to hand the Georgians a clean sweep. On Thursday South Africa plays a strong Great Britain who is captained by Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray. South Africa will be relieved that the British number one Johanna Konta has withdrawn from the tournament due to intestinal problems.
Konta is one of the rising stars of world tennis having just reached the semi-finals of the Australian open losing to eventual winner Angelique Kerber.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images