Cape Town - Denmark’s Davis Cup team have pinned their hopes on an indoor hardcourt surface to halt South Africa's charge in the upcoming promotion tie over the weekend in Aarhus, Denmark.
The South Africa squad under the guidance of captain Marcos Ondruska worked out at the match venue late on Monday afternoon. The squad will be looking for more training sessions on the unfamiliar surface ahead of the tie which starts on Friday.
South Africa's world-class doubles player Raven Klaasen explained that the playing surface was a constructed one which could be folded up.
"It's much like a portable tennis court," Klaasen explained.
"The playing surface has a base of interlocking wooden places which could be taken apart and stored or simply carted to another venue."
Ondruska said the choice of an indoor surface was a tactical move on Denmark's part.
"It seems like Denmark has done a fair bit of thinking about the choice of playing surface and it could well be that the SA players will need some time to adjust to the slower surface but I feel we'll be ready by Friday.
"Rather than opt for an outdoor surface which could favour the visitors, the indoor surface is slower and it could prove to be a leveller," said Ondruska.
"It will slow down the pace and that should help their players."
Ondruska, a seasoned campaigner who played Davis Cup for South Africa for eight years, is well versed in the vagaries of playing conditions around the world. During his time as an international player, he played in 48 Grand Slam tournaments and has career wins over some of the world's leading players at the time such as Michael Stich, Michael Chang, Richard Krajicek, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Brad Gilbert, Goran Ivanisevic and compatriot Wayne Ferreira.
"The Danish coaches probably compared the two teams and collectively the SA players have an overall better world ranking on paper," said Ondruska.
"But then the tie is not played on paper and Davis Cup competition is another animal.
"They are banking on the surface to level the playing fields and that can't be a bad thing for the home side. In addition, they're playing in front of a fiercely pro-Denmark crowd and that could arouse the national pride to the extent that their players are able to lift their game."
Ondruska was assisted on Monday by another former pro, Jeff Coetzee, who played Davis Cup for South Africa around the world for over a decade. Tennis South Africa has appointed him as a consultant coach for the Europe/Africa Zone Group II tie this weekend.
The South African squad presently in Denmark includes Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse, while Tucker Vorster is travelling with the team as a practice partner.
The South African Davis Cup squad after practice session held on Monday at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark.
Captured from left to right (back row) are: Marcos Ondruska (captain), Raven Klaasen, Jeff Coetzee (consultant coach), Lloyd Harris, Ruan Roelofse, and Tucker Vorster. Front row: Nik Scholtz
Picture credit: BLD Communications