ATP Tour

SA's Davis Cup win counts for little

2016-03-07 14:35
Lloyd Harris (Reg Caldecott)

In case you were not aware of it the origin of the much repeated idiom "in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king," has been credited to Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus in or around 1508.

At any rate, it would seem that the assumption of the wily Dutch philosopher and scholar was spot on in evaluating South Africa's 5-0 Euro-Africa Group Two thrashing of Luxembourg without  dropping a single set over the weekend.

For starters, 46th world-ranked Gilles Muller, who has virtually single-handedly carried the heavy burden of Luxembourg's tennis fortunes on his shoulders for more than a dozen years, finally decided it was hardly worth it and consequently made himself unavailable for the tie at the Irene Country Club in Centurion.

Remember too that tiny Luxembourg, despite its scenic beauty, has no other players ranked among the top 1 500 in the world among its population of little over 500 000 and the hardy players who came to South Africa are officially ranked as amateurs.

The newly-assembled South African team of Tucker Vorster (296th in the world) and budding debutant Lloyd Harris (311th in the world) and doubles specialists Ruan Roelofse and Dean O'Brien, with former stalwart Marcos Ondruska the non-playing captain for the first time, achieved everything that could have been expected of it.

But Luxembourg was no barometer at all of the extent this combination might achieve in attempting to restore South African tennis in general and the Davis Cup team in particular, to the heights of the past, while more immediately gaining promotion from the lowly Euro-Africa Group Two segment of the competition.

The acid test will come in July when South Africa will be away to Lithuania at what is expected to be the Siauliu Arena in Siauliai where the home side have just completed a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Norway.

Ricardas Berankis, who starred in that victory while winning all his three games in straight sets, is ranked 86th in the world and he has a legitimate singles accompanist the 335th ranked Laurynas Grigelis, with whom he also plays effective doubles.

Home court advantage - thankfully for the South Africans expected to be on an indoor hardcourt and not clay surface - will remain a considerable advantage for the Lithuanians.

And though South Africa, if deprived of top singles and doubles players Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen respectively, will start as underdogs, victory is a legitimate demand not only to continue on the promotion road, but also to uplift to spirit and ambitions of South African tennis in general terms.

It would be an entirely different scenario if Anderson and Klaasen made themselves available, but in Anderson's case, in particular, this remains a distant proposition.

And figuratively being the one-eyed man that Roterodamus envisaged might not be enough against a Lithuanian team that has its sights set on promotion to Euro-Africa Group One as well.

Read more on:    davis cup  |  tennis

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