Johannesburg - Already hit by the decision of top player Kevin Anderson's decision to miss next week's key Euro-Africa Davis Cup tie against Poland and Izak van der Merwe's long-term injury, the embattled South African squad have been further depleted by the unavailability of Nikala Scholtz.
South African captain John-Laffnie de Jager has confirmed that the exciting 22-year-old prospect, who made such an impressive Davis Cup debut last year when he held Canada's 15th-ranked world player Milos Raonic to three closely-contested sets, was unavailable because of commitments at the University of Mississippi.
"Nikala is on a scholrship at the American university," explained De Jager, "and is contractually committed to helping Mississippi when required. We could certainly have used him in the circumstances, but the experience and specialised training he is receiving should see him and South African tennis in good stead in the future."
Despite the uphill battle facing South Africa against a formidable Polish line-up, De Jager says his new-look squad will go into the tie determined to upset the odds.
"Strange things happen in Davis Cup competition," he added, "and we're not approaching this admittedly difficult encounter with a defeatest attitude."
However, Anderson's pull-out, in particular, is widely thought to have put paid to any chance of South Africa fulfilling a 15-year dream of returning to the elite World Group of the 125-nation competition.
And the International Tennis Federation have also confirmed that defeat for the South Africans in Warsaw would result in a tricky path to avoid relegation from the Davis Cup's Euro-Africa Group One.
"A defeat against Poland," said an ITF spokesperson, "would mean South Africa playing Slovenia to maintain the country's current Davis Cup status. Losing to Slovenia would mean another play-off against either Russia or Great Britain - and a defeat here would result in relegation to Euro-Africa Group Two in 2014."