Cape Town - South Africa's hopes in the forthcoming
Euro-Africa Group Two tie against Lithuania on Tuesday received a much-needed
double dose of good news with the announcement by the International Tennis
Federation of the teams for the tie.
Not only has world 16th-ranked doubles player, Raven
Klaasen, confirmed his availability for the four-man South African squad, but
Lithuania's only world-class player, Ricardas Berankis, 54th in the world
singles rankings, has ruled himself out of the tie.
With top South African player Kevin Anderson continuing a
five-year, self-imposed boycott of the Davis Cup, Berankis was widely
considered as likely to tilt the scales in favour of Lithuania - despite his
surprise first-round defeat in the current Wimbledon tournament.
Now, South Africa's two singles nominations, Lloyd Harris
(315th in the world rankings) and Tucker Vorster (at 356th) can approach their
match-ups against Lithuanian
counterparts Laurynas Grigelis (372nd in the world) and Lukas Mugevicius
(796th) with renewed hope and confidence.
In addition, with Klaasen confirming his status in the
opening two rounds of the doubles at Wimbledon this week and Ruan Roelofse as
his likely partner, recently appointed South African Davis Cup captain Marcos Ondruska
will justifiably feel he has an ace up his sleeve in this department.
But success in a tie that will present the winners with an
opportunity to gain promotion to next year's Euro-Africa Group One segment of
the Davis Cup in a match-up against either Turkey or Bosnia later in the year
is by no means a certainty - with Lithuania having an ace of their own to
counter South Africa's apparent doubles advantage.
The tie at the Azuolynas Tennis Centre in Kaunas, Lithuania
will be played on a clay court - a surface on which the home team's players are
far more familiar and one on which South Africans have often battled.
South Africa: Lloyd Harris, Tucker Vorster (initially
designated singles players), Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse (designated doubles
players). Team Captain: Marcos Ondruska.
Lithuania: Laurynas Grigelis, Lukas Mugevicius (designated
singles players), Tadis Babelis, Tomas Vaise (doubles). Team Captain: Rimvydas