De Jager sweating on SA stars

2012-03-10 18:30
John-Laffnie de Jager (File)

Johannesburg - South African tennis captain John-Laffnie de Jager would have named his Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams for next month's crucial matches "two weeks ago" but is being forced to hold back, he said on Saturday.

De Jager remains on tenterhooks as the country's top men's and women's players, Kevin Anderson and Chani Scheepers, have yet to confirm their availability.

"I'm still expecting Anderson and Scheepers to come up with positive replies for the respective Davis Cup tie against Slovenia in Soweto and the Euro-Africa Group Two Fed Cup playoffs in Egypt," said De Jager.

"Time is running out as a lot of organising and administrative work is required to organise the teams."

Anderson and Scheepers, who are rated 30th and 47th in the world, respectively in the men's and women's rankings, are considered the difference between South Africa being firm favourites or big underdogs for next month's ties.

The delay of the two South African stars suggested they were not over-willing to participate but a strong incentive for them to play is that they will not be eligible for this year's Olympic Games tournament at Wimbledon unless they participate in the Davis and Fed Cup ties.

Should Anderson play against Slovenia, his world ranking would almost certainly assure him a place in the Olympic Games team.

Scheepers's situation, however, was not quite as clear-cut should see participate in the Fed Cup playoffs.

Unlike Anderson, she would still not have fulfilled the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) requirement to perform in the Fed Cup in at least two of the past five years.

An ITF media spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that should Scheepers play in this year's Fed Cup, she would still have to apply for special dispensation to be included in the London Olympics.

"Each case in such circumstances is viewed on merits," added the ITF spokesperson.

"The player concerned needed to be in good standing with their national association and provide a valid argument as to why they should be included in the Olympic Games field."

No one would be happier to see Scheepers participating in the Olympic Games than South Africa's top, and world top 30, doubles player Natalie Grandin.

Grandin warranted a place in the Olympic Games doubles in her own right, but she would only be accepted if Scheepers was there as her doubles partner.

Which leaves both the 31-year-old, East London-born doubles exponent, as well as the somewhat disturbed De Jager, holding thumbs that American-based Scheepers sees her way to playing in the Fed Cup next month.

And De Jager, at the same time, is equally anxious for Anderson to give him the green light regarding Davis Cup selection.


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