The South African Fed Cup team made a solid start to their week long Fed Cup campaign in Estonia on Wednesday. Boosted by the inclusion of South Africa’s highest world ranked player, Chani Scheepers, in the team, South Africa thumped African rivals Egypt 3-0 in their opening tie. In the opening rubber which started late Wednesday afternoon, South African number two Chanel Simmonds easily beat second seed Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-0, 6-2 in the opening rubber to give South Africa the important lead.
Captain Earl Grainger got his charge Simmonds firing right from the start. Implementing aggressive returns down the line and using as much court distance as possible, this strategy worked well for Simmonds as she effectively got her opponent off balance and playing a defensive game and allowing her no rhythm into the match. “I was very happy with my first serve percentage, it contributed to my aggressive game” said Simmonds.
Grainger encouraged Simmonds to be aggressive throughout the match and to stay positive and believe in the game plan which worked well and Simmonds put her country on the score board after only 73 minutes. In the second rubber, Chani Scheepers dominated Egyptian number one Ola Abou Zekry 6-0 6-1 to give South Africa the opening tie win. Scheepers had little trouble in dispatching lower ranked Zekry. Scheepers’ consistency and accuracy was too much for the Egyptian who was forced into making many errors and being hit off the court with deep shots to both corners of the court.
Scheepers was delighted in her untroubled performance to be playing for her country and enjoyed using the match for getting used to the indoor conditions. Grainger was happy about the positive attitude both his singles players had on court saying, “I wanted us to go out and dominate from the word go, the girls played very well.” In the dead doubles rubber South Africa’s Michelle Sammons and Ilze Hattingh combined well and took care of business both on the return of serve and dominated the net with precise volleying and poaching.
Hattingh and Sammons beat Sandra Samir and Ola Abou Zekry 6-4, 6-3 to hand South Africa a comprehensive 3-0 over their African counterparts. Sammons and Hattingh are familiar with each other as they have played ITF futures together. Grainger was pleased with both girls performance and complimented their positive attitude and constant aggression.
Today South Africa goes up against tournament favourites Estonia. The two nations have met five times before in Fed Cup competition with South Africa leading head to head 3-2. The hosts have in their line-up players ranked in the top 50 (name player) and top 175 (name player) on the WTA ranking. “South Africa has a new challenge against Estonia today and we have to come out with a positive mind-set” said Grainger.
Play begins at 16:00 today (Wednesday).
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images