SATA mull Davis Cup captaincy
John-Laffnie de Jager (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - After six years in the position, John-Laffnie de Jager is hoping to continue "unfinished business" as South Africa's Davis Cup tennis captain.
The two-time grand slam mixed doubles title-holder confirmed this on Saturday -- 48 hours before the SA Tennis Association were due to name both the South African Davis Cup and Federation Cup captains for the coming year.
"I submitted my application for the post as SATA required [it] from all the candidates," said De Jager, who succeeded Kevin Curren as South Africa's Davis Cup captain in 2005.
"I was interviewed by members of the board during the recent national junior championships in Bloemfontein.
"I am obviously hoping to continue playing a role in the Davis Cup progress South Africa has made over the past three years by reaching the World Group play-offs, but obviously the objective is to qualify for the elite group of the competition after an absence of more than a decade."
Despite this, and his obvious dedication to the job, it seemed De Jager was somewhat on tenterhooks before the meeting of Sata's board on Sunday where the decisions on the captains will be taken.
They would be release on Monday.
And many have raised eyebrows over SATA calling for applications for the Davis Cup post if De Jager's retention was considered a formality.
Questioned on this, Bruce Davidson, SATA's marketing manager, said: "John-Laffnie de Jager is certainly among the candidates for the Davis Cup captaincy.
"Calling for applications is merely a matter of procedure."
However, in spite of South Africa making good progress in the Davis Cup to reach the World Group play-offs before tumbling at the final hurdle to India, Germany and Croatia respectively, it is no secret that certain officials have expressed the view that the time is ripe for a change of captaincy and approach.
De Jager believes he has built strong bridges in a closely-knit squad of South African players and it could prove retrogressive laying a new foundation and approach at this juncture.
"With the great progress made by Kevin Anderson, who is now ranked 29th in the world we can look forward to bidding for a World Group place with renewed confidence next year," said De Jager.
Anderson was not available for the clear-cut defeats against India and Germany and was injured after winning his opening game in what was an ultimate 4-1 defeat against Croatia in Potchefstroom two months ago.
But, no matter who is named Davis Cup captain, South Africa could still find themselves battling for a World Group place without a second player similar to the mettle and power of Anderson.
On a less high-profiled note, Greer Leo-Smith (formerly Stevens) is expected to be re-appointed as Fed Cup captain after South Africa took a step out of the doldrums of the women's international team event this year.
SATA have not released a list of applicants for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup captaincies -- and it is not known whether they will ultimately do so or not.