Anderson keeps options open
Johannesburg - Kevin Anderson says he hopes to play a part in South Africa's Davis Cup team in future, but will need to decide tie-by-tie, after making himself unavailable for next month's Euro-Africa Group One fixture against Poland.
In a letter of confirmation to Tennis SA (TSA), Anderson provided a variety of reasons for not being available to represent the four-man team named on Wednesday.
Having climbed back into the world top 30 after some impressive performances on the ATP circuit this year, Anderson said he could not commit to the crucial tie due to a hectic tournament schedule and the need to rest following recent elbow surgery. He also stressed the considerable financial implications of disrupting his tournament appearances to play in the global team competition.
"In future I will have to decide on when to make myself available for Davis Cup play tie-by-tie, depending on the circumstances," said Anderson, who has played only two Davis Cup ties since 2008.
"In the meantime, I wish the team the best of luck against Poland." Aggravating the situation further was the news that Davis Cup regular Izak van der Merwe had picked up an ankle injury in the United States and was also out the team.
Despite their absence, TSA president Bongani Zondi believed the national squad would perform admirably against the Poles.
Veteran Rik de Voest will lead the team which also includes Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Jean Andersen.
"We are confident in our squad," Zondi said in a statement.
The South Africans 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 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.
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.
"I am very proud to be a South African and love representing my country, but playing in the Fed Cup in Montenegro in April just does not fit into my programme for the year," Scheepers told TSA.
"The current format for the Fed Cup does not fit in well with the WTA tournament calendar and forces players in the top 100 to choose between preparing and playing in tournaments or the lower level of the Fed Cup in which South Africa currently competes."
Simmonds will be joined by doubles specialist Natalie Grandin, last year's African junior champion Ilze Hattingh, and Lyn Kiro.
"The unavailability of Chani Scheepers may be a bit of a disappointment, but having Chanel Simmonds in our side will give us a boost," said De Jager, who is also the country's Fed Cup captain.
"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."