Cape Town - There are two ways of looking at the Davis Cup - with nothing illustrating the point more forcibly than the different manner in which South African number one, Kevin Anderson, and Israel's number one, Dudi Sela, approach what the ITF refer to as "The World Cup of Tennis".
Playing three matches and eight sets over two days in largely oppressive heat in the recently completed Euro-Africa Group One tie at the Irene Country Club, Sela emerged a gritty hero in Israel's 3-2 triumph over South Africa while winning both his singles matches.
It was totally in character for the diminutive, 32-year-old who has represented Israel continuously for 12 years in the Davis Cup since 2006, while guiding the team to the heights of a World Group semi-final berth in 2009 and scaling an individual world ranking of 29th at the same time.
Anderson, in contrast, has after little more than three years of Davis Cup participation early in his professional career, been in self-imposed exile from the event for seven years or so when his undoubted ability as South Africa's top player and only truly world-class performer could have made the world of difference to the declining tennis status of a country that can boast being among the elite who have won the Davis Cup title and once produced a conveyor belt of world class players.
Anderson's explanation? The need to concentrate on forging his own rise on the competitive ATP circuit, which briefly earned him a place among the top 10 in the world for a week two years ago and has solidified his current ranking of 11th in the world after a career-best achievement of reaching the final of last year's US Open.
And, at the same time, the issue has also been raised of guarding against prolonging injuries if an intense programme in Davis Cup participation was added - with finance added into the melting pot in view of Tennis South Africa's limited resources.
It needs, however, to be pointed out that none of the current stars of tennis, including the elite likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and so forth, who while at times limiting their Davis Cup participation, have ever taken anything like the extreme boycott of the Davis Cup as decreed by Anderson.
And asked by one journalist whether he had problems recruiting and motivating players to participate in the Davis Cup, Israeli team captain Haral Levy said it was "just the opposite”.
"The Israeli players regard it as a great honour representing their country - and reserve their best performances for the Davis Cup."
As for Anderson, he has often expressed a lot of enthusiasm and interest in South Africa's sports achievements in cricket, rugby and golf.
Hopefully it will soon extend to tennis as well!
In the meantime, South Africa's hopes of regaining a World Group Davis Cup place this year have again been torpedoed by the defeat against Israel - something that could have been avoided had Anderson been in harness at Irene.