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Rookies ready for action
- Updated: March 30, 2012
Rookie South African tennis players Ruan Roelofse and Jean Andersen believe they are ready to compete in their first Davis Cup tie against Slovenia in Soweto next week.
Andersen, ranked outside the top 1 000 in the world, will arrive in the country on Friday from Belgium where he has been training, reports Sapa.
Roelofse, ranked 377th in the world, is in Stellenbosch with fellow Davis Cup team-mate Izak van der Merwe.
“I’m extremely excited to be called up. I’m more than ready to go,” Andersen said on Thursday. “I’ve been practising in Brussels and I’m prepared to play some tennis at altitude from tommorow afternoon.”
The South Africans were depleted by the withdrawals of SA No 1 Kevin Anderson and veteran Rik de Voest for the Euro/Africa Group I tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre.
With altitude expected to play to their advantage, however, Roelofse was confident the SA quartet, also including the experienced duo of Izak van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen, could reach the World Group playoffs for the fourth year in succession.
“I was in France when I heard that Kevin [Anderson] had withdrawn and I got a call to find out if I was available,” Roelofse said. “We really feel that we can still do the job and get through this one .
“I have always wanted to compete in the Davis Cup and it’s right up there with some of my best achievements.”
Andersen said he had played tennis with Roelofse as a doubles partner throughout the year and would be pleased to represent the country in the doubles rubber if called on by team captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
“We are both ready to play if we are chosen to play together, and Izak is there to help out if need be,” Andersen said.
“Ruan and I have played almost the whole year together and I think we have done well together.”
In the absence of Anderson and De Voest, Van der Merwe has assumed the role of senior player and mentor for the rookies which, according to Roelofse, has helped him with his own game.
“I’ve been practising with Izak and we have had a chat about the players we’ll come up against,” Roelofse said.
“I’ve known Izak for a long time, and have been talking to him about what the daily routines are and what it feels like entering the court for the first time.”
South Africa were awarded a bye in the first round of this year’s Euro/Africa Zone Group I, while Slovenia beat Denmark 5-0 to progress to the second round.