Johannesburg - South Africa will remain in Group II of the Euro-Africa division in next year's Fed Cup after they went down 2-0 against Turkey in a playoff tie in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday.
The South Africans had gone unbeaten in the Group II tournament, storming to the top of their pool, but lost against the Turks in both singles matches in the promotion playoff.
Teenager Ilze Hattingh, who turns 16 on Sunday, lost her first rubber of the week to Pemra Ozgen, going down 4-6, 2-6, while Cagla Buyulkakcay fought back from a set down to beat veteran Natalie Grandin 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The SA team, missing their top-ranked players, included three debutants in Hattingh and fellow teenagers Madrie Le Roux and Lyn Kiro.
"I am extremely proud of my girls," said SA captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
"They came into the tournament unseeded then won three ties on the trot without losing a rubber and in the final playoff Tie fell to a powerful Turkish side."
De Jager said his young squad had learned a lot from their week, despite failing to reach Group I for the first time since 2006.
"This week was excellent experience for the new caps and Natalie was an incredible leader from the front," he said.
"Natalie without doubt needs to be credited for her ongoing commitment to tennis in South Africa.
"She plays with heart and is so proudly South African."