Johannesburg - There where smiles all around when the draw for the week-end's Euro-Africa Group II tie against Turkey was made on Thursday at the Mersin Indoor Tennis Complex in Turkey.
"It's what I had been hoping for. So far so good," said South African team captain Earl Grainger during a conference call from Turkey in which he rated prospects for the match as "50-50."
The five-match tie will be launched at 12 noon on an indoor hardcourt surface on Friday with South African number one player Fritz Wolmarans coming up against Turkey number two Cem Ilkel.
Wolmarans is currently ranked 427th in the world, some 23 positions behind the 404th-ranked Ilkel.
Grainger has chosen 452nd-ranked Tucker Vorster to play in Friday's second and final singles match against a formidable Marsel Ilhan, who with a 77th world ranking is 375 position superior to the South African number two.
It would seem Grainger is hoping to get the South African bid off on the right foot with the experienced Wolmarans notching a victory and the team finishing on level terms after the opening day's singles.
Saturday's doubles will see world 29th-ranked Raven Klaasen and 248-ranked Roelof Roelofse to play the Turkish pair of Baris Erguden and Anil Yuksel with vastly superior rankings. "Turkey might have an ace in the singles in possessing a player of Ilhan's ability, who only last week beat world number 12 ranked Feliciano Lopez in the ATP Dubai Open.
"But we could have an ace of our own to counter this in the shape of our doubles pairing of Klaasen and Roelofse," he said.
Grainger said he was encouraged by the mood of the players in the South African camp, with all the players demonstrating improved form in practice as the week progressed.
South Africa are one of the handful of countries who have been Davis Cup winners. Turkey, in contrast, have never progressed higher than their current Euro-Africa Group II level and Grainger says the opportunity to go a step further has aroused enthusiastic interest in the forthcoming tie against South Africa.
"As far as we are concerned, the long-term objective is to return to the premier World Group of the event. But that is at least two year's away and all that we are concentrating on beating Turkey," said the captain.
Grainger said he had also received an assurance from South African number one and current world number 17 Kevin Anderson that he would make a return to Davis Cup competition in the future after being unavailable for three years.
For Grainger's World Group Davis Cup aspirations to materialise, Anderson's presence would seem essential. Sapa