De Jager defends Anderson
Johannesburg - The country's number one tennis player, Kevin Anderson, has not turned his back on the South African team, according to Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
"There's been a lot of stuff about Kevin turning his back on South Africa," De Jager said on Monday.
"He's not turning his back on South Africa. He's just applying for a [United States] Green Card and things didn't work out.
"He's available to play for South Africa again, and so is Rik [de Voest], but they're not here."
South Africa face Slovenia in a Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group I tie, starting in Soweto on Friday, for a place in the World Group playoffs.
With Anderson and De Voest unavailable, Izak van der Merwe will anchor the team, along with Davis Cup veteran Raven Klaasen, while the uncapped duo of Ruan Roelofse and Jean Andersen have been called up.
"These are the four guys we are focussing on and I'm very happy with the team," De Jager said.
The renewed responsibility will now fall on the shoulders of Izak van der Merwe, who said he was confident in his own game and the chances of the home team.
"We're good enough to win this tie, on paper, and hopefully we can use the home crowd to our advantage," Van der Merwe said.
He added that he had a special fondness for the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex where he won the Soweto Open in 2011.
"In Davis Cup it's a huge responsibility to play, and when we found out we were going to be playing in South Africa, and when we found out we would be playing here, I was even more excited," Van der Merwe said.
"I've won a lot of matches here where I'm playing number one this weekend."
De Jager said his side had enough information on the Slovenian team to know what to expect.
"They're good players. Their guys are players that will adapt to the high altitude and their number one player [Blaz Kavcic] has been ranked as high as 70th in the world," De Jager said.
"We have respect for their tennis ability, but we're going to focus on what we need to do to perform well on the weekend."