De Voest relishes home return
Rik de Voest (Photo: Reg Caldecott)
Pretoria - When South African Davis Cup stalwart Rik de Voest was 5 years old, he enthusiastically spent hours a day hitting tennis balls with a wooden racket at the Irene Country Club just outside Pretoria.
In those days, there were only two courts at the Country Club close to his parents' home.
Today the Country Club is thriving and at the end of the month it will host the upcoming Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group 2 Tie between South Africa and Monaco ( January 31 - February 2).
De Voest has made himself available and is hoping to play the tie, although South African captain John Laffnie De Jager has yet to name his team.
"We moved to Irene in 1984 and my parents joined the club. This is where I had my first introduction to tennis and I fondly remember hitting balls with my dad with a wooden racket, so effectively this is where my tennis all started," said De Voest. "I took my first tennis lessons at the Irene Country Club, and because we lived close by, I made use of the courts frequently in my younger years."
After De Voest turned professional, Irene Country Club became involved in a tennis initiative with the local farm school. De Voest gave the project his full support.
"Over the years I have been lucky enough to see the growth of this programme and follow the success of the players that have passed through it. I have always donated all my used tennis rackets and clothing and footwear to the programme over the years."
Recently the tennis side of the club has undergone a renovation which included the addition of new courts.
This has increased the popularity of tennis at the club and attracted new members.
"It would be amazing to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club," said De Voest." I believe the exposure to international players and the national team will further benefit the development and interest in tennis at Irene.
"Now nearing the end phase of my tennis career and with my long history with the club, it would be extra special to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club where it all began for me."
South Africa and Monaco are expected to name their sides for the tie mid-January. According to Davis Cup rules, both teams have the right to name their squads up until 10 days before the commencement of the tie.
The tie will be played on a hard court with seats for 700 spectators.Programme:Friday, January 31:
09:45. Opening Ceremony. The first singles match will start at 10:00 with the second rubber following immediately thereafter.Saturday, February 1:
12:00. Doubles MatchSunday, February 2:
10:00. First reverse singles match, followed by final singles match.
All the matches are played as the best of five sets until a result has been achieved.
Admission will be free on first come first serve basis, for unreserved seats.Rik de Voest at the age of 5 practicing at the Irene Country Club (Photo supplied by De Voest family).