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Slovenia waste no time ahead of Davis Cup tie

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Despite only jetting into South Africa on Monday, the Slovenian Davis Cup team are upbeat and keen to take to court against South Africa at Irene Country Club, Tshwane, this weekend.

KIA South Africa face Slovenia from Friday to Sunday in the all-important Euro/Africa Group 2 second round tie. The winner will get a shot at playing for promotion into Group 1 in September.

Slovenian captain Blaz Trupej said his team had wasted no time getting on to court. ‘Although we had a long and tiring flight to South Africa, we had a good practice session on Monday. The venue is good. The court is playing slower than we anticipated, we like the balls, and with the tie being played late afternoon/early evening it will be cooler and better for my players,’ said Trupej.

In 2012, South Africa beat Slovenia 4-1 at the Arthur Ashe Tennis centre in Soweto. ‘We prefer Irene to Soweto, the altitude seemed higher and the court much faster there, but here things are different and looking good,’ said Trupej. He admitted the altitude would play a factor, but after practice on Monday his boys felt surprisingly at ease with the altitude.

Asked why top Slovenian player Blaz Kavcic was not named as part of the team, Trupej said that Kavcic had different priorities. ‘It’s a pity that Kavcic is not with us, but he has other priorities other than Davis Cup. My other players are here, selected to do a job and will put every effort into the tie. So the priority is focusing on the tie with the team we have here, and not that Kavcic is absent from the team.’

But with a smile, Trupej said he could surprise all come Thursday, as he’s allowed to make changes to his nomination up until an hour before the 3pm official draw. ‘The rules state I can still make changes, so who knows if Blaz Kavcic jets in last minute.’

Marcos Ondruska, South African team captain, said that Irene was especially set up for the SA team. ‘We are the home team, so took full advantage of that and chose Irene Country Club. Irene is proving to be a good hunting ground for our team, and although Slovenia seem happy with the venue their likes are just a small percentage of our overall advantage.’

Ondruska continued by saying he was happy with his squad and had a lot of variety to play with. ‘My singles and doubles players are all fit and healthy and the next three days will allow me an opportunity to test them all. Come Thursday, I feel I’ll be ready to name the best team which I believe has the best shot at pulling off a win this weekend.’

Top-ranked South African singles player, Lloyd Harris, said he was in good shape and ready for the weekend. ‘I feel good right now with my game and am happy that the times of the start of play have changed to late afternoon.

‘I’m ready to play under lights and I think the start time change made by Tennis South Africa will allow for more spectators to make the tennis and create a unique atmosphere for them.’

Raven Klaasen, who recently captured his second ATP Masters title in Indian Wells, California, together with his American partner Rajeev Ram, was optimistic about South Africa’s chances. ‘We have a solid team and the same team that did us proud against Estonia in February.

‘The consistency works well and Ruan [Roelofse] and I look forward to going out together on Sunday and clinching that important doubles point for the country.’

Nik Scholtz, who is the front-runner candidate to be named as South African No 2 player, said that Davis Cup action brought out the best of players and rankings were not important when it came to match day.

‘You see time and time again how players ranked lower than their opponents pull off great wins in Davis Cup.

‘Rankings are important in the game and give you an expectation on paper who should win and lose, but when you go out for your country you play with so much heart and soul, assisted by the crowd, you lift your game to incredible levels, allowing you to pull off surprises… it happens all the time in Davis Cup.’

Ondruska confirmed that former ATP Tour and Davis Cup player Neville Godwin, coach of top-ranked Kevin Anderson, would be his consultant coach for the tie.

Tickets for the tie can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za for R150 per person, per session.

Picture of the SA team at Tuesday’s press conference courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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