SA Davis Cup playoff in Potch
Johan Loffnie de Jager (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have announced the Fanie du Toit Stadium, on the Potchefstroom University Campus, as the venue for the Davis Cup World Group play-off between South Africa and Croatia from September 16 to 18.
South Africa beat the Netherlands 3-1 in a Euro-Africa tie at the same venue last month, but the location had aroused widespread misgivings because of its distance from a major metropolitan area and a limited capacity for spectators.
In view of the importance of the Croatian confrontation, the misgivings are likely to be intensified concerning the Potchefstroom venue which seats less than 1000 people.
Croatia boasts current world number 24 Marin Cilic and the 32nd ranked Ivan Ljubicic - both rated higher than the top South African, Kevin Anderson, who is currently ranked 37th in the world.
South African Tennis Association's (Sata) CEO Ian Smith warded off the venue announcement by the ITF on Friday with the pronouncement that documents confirming Potchefstroom as the venue had still to be signed.
Smith did, however, admit that the town in the North-West Province was in the forefront of current discussions with the international body's investigating team who are currently in South Africa.
A stipulation in the Davis Cup rules, that venues for World Group play-offs required a 3 000 seating capacity, would not jeopardise Sata's aim to stage the Croatian tie in rustic Potchefstroom.
Smith said this was not a stumbling block if the venue satisfied the ITF in other respects.
In the forefront of the criticism of Potchefstroom as a Davis Cup venue was former South African Davis Cup star Abe Segal, who described it as "crazy if you want to make tennis one of the major sports in South Africa."
Financial constraints are seemingly one of the factors in choosing Potchefstroom as the venue as South Africa bid to gain a place in the elite World Group for the first time in more than a decade - but not the only one.
The South African players have stipulated they would like to tackle the tough Croatians on familiar high altitude courts, but Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein are also situated at high altitude.