Marcos Ondruska, South Africa’s newly appointed Davis Cup captain, announced from Atlanta on Wednesday his squad to take on Luxembourg in their Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Davis Cup to be played from 4 – 6 March at the Irene Country Club. The squad announced comprises of Tucker Vorster, Lloyd Harris, Ruan Roelofse, Dean O’Brien and Keith-Patrick Crowley. Ondruska has confirmed that Kevin Anderson, Raven Klaasen and Nik Scholtz are not available for the upcoming tie.
Ondruska says: ‘I have been in touch with Kevin, Raven and Nik and confirmed that Kevin remains unavailable at this stage and that Raven due to scheduling can’t make this tie. Nik has not been playing competitively for the past few weeks and felt he was not ready to play Davis Cup.’ Ondruska also confirmed Fritz Wolmarans had retired from competitive tennis so could not be considered. The South African captain will be forced to trim the squad down to four players by the start of the tie.
Despite South Africa’s top singles and doubles player Anderson and Klaasen not being available for the tie, Ondruska said he was pleased that he had announced a solid squad. Lloyd Harris, aged 18, is in his first year as a senior player and is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in South African tennis in recent years. The Capetonian will be playing in his first tie should he make Ondruska’s final four players.
Harris has however been part of previous Davis Cup squads as part of the Tennis South Africa (TSA) programme in grooming up and coming players for Davis Cup duty. Harris is expected to be considered for the singles alongside Tucker Vorster whose inclusion should delight the home crowds as Vorster is a native of the Capital. South Africa’s second highest ranked doubles player Dean O’Brien of Sandton made a decision a year ago to focus on doubles and the decision has paid off with O’Brien climbing the rankings impressively with him on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 100.
O’Brien should partner Ruan Roelofse who like Harris comes from Cape Town. Roelofse although has a singles ranking is also concentrating on the doubles on tour. O’Brien and Roelofse have played together on a regular basis with great success. Keith-Patrick Crowley also of Cape Town has been part of the Davis Cup squad before but has yet to play for South Africa.
Crowley who was in South Africa last year for the Digicall Futures Series has made impressive moves up the world rankings in recent months especially on the doubles rankings. Ondruska warned that Luxembourg would be a strong challenge for South Africa especially with the visitors expected to name left handed seasoned pro Gilles Muller ranked 40 as their number one player. Ondruska says: ‘Davis Cup is never easy. It’s a real fight for both teams to come out tops and anything is possible in Davis Cup. However we have home advantage and high altitude advantage which hopefully will work in our favour. I have heard that Irene Country Club is a great venue and we hope to get lots of support from the local tennis supporters.’
Ondruska says he is looking forward to captaining South Africa for the first time: ‘I have played a lot of Davis Cup and have played under a bunch of different captains. Now it’s my turn to lead the team and make the decisions and choices and I am really looking forward to it. I see it as a great honour and really can’t wait!’ Luxembourg will only be naming their side ten days before the tie as per the Davis Cup rules.
South African squad and their current ranking positions: Tucker Vorster (singles; 295 doubles; 376), Lloyd Harris ( singles; 360 doubles; 594 ), Ruan Roelofse (singles; 726 doubles; 131), Dean O’Brien (doubles; 122) and Keith-Patrick Crowley (singles; 723 doubles; 303).
Tickets to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 South Africa vs Luxembourg tie are available at R100 per person and at R250 for a season ticket via Webtickets.co.za and at Pick n Pay stores.
Photo credit: Tennis South Africa