SOUTH African Davis Cup captain Earl Grainger backed his team to overcome Ireland when they meet at Irene Country Club in Pretoria next week in their Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 playoff tie.
Grainger, speaking during a conference call yesterday, picked a six man squad, naming Tucker Vorster, Fritz Wolmarans, Dean O’Brien, Ruan Roelofse, Nik Scholtz and Lloyd Harris.
Grainger said he named six players instead of four to keep his options open ahead of the clash against an Irish side with “big boys and big hitters”.
“We’re allowed to make changes before Thursday … I had a look at both Nik and Lloyd.
“Nik is a good player but his form hasn’t been good. But I’m hoping that changes,”
Grainger acknowledged that 24-year-old Scholtz, a star in the U.S. collegiate scene, had been struggling for form lately, and that he was keeping a close eye on his progress.
But, with Vorster and Wolmarans the highest ranked members of the team at 389th and 426th, he was confident that they would be able to match the Irish.
Speaking of their Irish opponents, he said: “They’re big boys, big hitters, but we fancy our chances.
“We have a big challenge ahead of us, but we really fancy our chances against a team who have players who are similar to us in terms of ranking.”
The skipper also addressed the absence of South Africa’s two biggest starts in Kevin Anderson, who made himself unavailable for the team, and Raven Klaasen.
“I’ll be honest and say I would have loved to have had him available, but we have some big players and we have to back them,” he said.
On doubles specialist Klaasen, Grainger said: “Raven wrote to me and told me he would not be available due to the World Team Tennis, and I accepted that.”
In a statement sent out by Tennis South Africa, Klaasen said: “Unfortunately I won’t be available for the next tie against Ireland. I am really said no to be part of this one especially given it’s a home tie. I want to take this opportunity of saying good luck to Earl and the squad and as always Davis Cup will have my full support.”
The tie will take place from July 17 to the 19, and the team will get together on Monday next week