Cape Town - Despite the critical importance
of the occasion, with South Africa facing the possibility of relegation to its
lowest level in the competition, the Euro-Africa Group Two Davis Cup tennis tie
starting against Ireland at the Irene Country Club on Friday will not receive
any live coverage.
The TV blackout, which was confirmed by
Tennis South Africa (TSA) on Thursday, follows the non-availability of key
players Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen and casts another dark cloud over the
game in the country - particularly as a growing number of more minor sports are
receiving an increasing amount of exposure.
"We made overtures to conclude a deal
with several TV organisations, including SuperSport and SABC," said a TSA
official, "but we were unable to come to an agreement for any live
And it seems small compensation that
SuperSport have agreed to present a
condensed package on the South Africa-Ireland tie at an unconfirmed date
in the future.
"Money was basically at the root of
the problem," added the official.
"We had a problem in raising the
amount needed for live coverage and the TV companies were not prepared to bear
"Also there were additional problems
regarding the setting up of TV equipment
at Irene, which would have conflicted with some of the other activities at the
This, however, would seem only a further
indictment of those involved, broaching the question as to why the picturesque,
but relatively out-of-the-way venue was selected instead of one in central
Johannesburg or Pretoria which would have attracted more spectators.
Meanwhile, the tie, which seems poised on a
razor's-edge, gets underway at 09:30 on Friday, with a match-up between South
African No 2 Fritz Wolmarans and Ireland No 1 James McGee.
Thursday's draw has pitted South African No
1 Tucker Vorster against Ireland No 2 Sam Barry in the opening day's second
match, with South African captain Earl Grainger expressing satisfaction with
"I think it's come out the way I
wanted," said Grainger, "and I'm confident we can pull off what will
be a tough undertaking."
The doubles will be played on Saturday,
with the final two singles matches scheduled for Sunday.