Anderson again snubs SA team
Johannesburg - Kevin Anderson has again made himself unavailable for South Africa's Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup tie against Poland in April, but Tennis South Africa (TSA) believes the national squad will perform admirably in his absence.
Anderson, the SA men's No 1, who has played only two Davis Cup ties since 2008, was not included in the team named by TSA on Wednesday, along with Davis Cup regular Izak van der Merwe, who is unavailable due to an ankle injury.
Veteran Rik de Voest will lead the team which also includes Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Jean Andersen.
"Kevin Anderson's unavailability for the Davis Cup has helped us increase our focus on development and pushing forward these talented and committed members of team Tennis South Africa", said TSA president Bongani Zondi.
Congratulating Anderson on his return to the top 30 in the men's world rankings, after some quality performances on the ATP circuit this season, Zondi believed the team they had put together would hold their own.
"We are confident in our squad. If South Africa beats the Poles, we will then have another chance to qualify for the World Group proper in a playoff in September."
South Africa have fallen at the final hurdle for the last four years in succession, in their attempt to reach the top-flight World Group division in the global men's team competition.
"Poland are going to be tough to beat in their home backyard but our squad has won away challenges before and we keep our hopes high for our team to pull off a surprise," said SA captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
"While Poland has two quality singles players both ranked in the top 100 in the world, and a top-10 ranked doubles outfit, our players' rankings are not bad either.
"Our team has shown in the past they can win against all odds, so we will travel to Poland with a very positive attitude."
Meanwhile, TSA also announced that rising star Chanel Simmonds would lead the SA women's team at the Fed Cup Euro-Africa Group Two tournament in Montenegro next month, in the absence of SA women's No 1 Chanelle Scheepers.
Simmonds will be joined by doubles specialist Natalie Grandin, last year's African junior champion Ilze Hattingh, and Lyn Kiro.
"We will be aiming to be promoted to the Euro/Africa Group One, where we'll compete with top European countries and their top ranked players", said De Jager, who is also the country's Fed Cup captain.
"Last year we came close to promotion when we finished as runners-up to Turkey in the round robin competition. This time we'll go all out to win in Montenegro in order to be promoted.
"The unavailability of Chani Scheepers may be a bit of a disappointment, but having Chanel Simmonds in our side will give us a boost, and our team, a mixture of experience and youth, will surely do us proud."
Zondi said TSA chief executive Ian Smith had been asked by the federation's board to write to both Anderson and Scheepers, requesting them to give a "final and unequivocal undertaking" as to whether they should be considered as regular and consistent members of South Africa's squad going forward.
"We need this to provide certainty for our planning purposes instead of planning from tie to tie," Zondi said.
"Once we get their responses we will then take Tennis South Africa forward with a regular and consistent team."