De Jager: High altitude vital

2012-02-15 15:41

Johannesburg - A high altitude venue is a must for South Africa's Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup tie against Slovenia in April, according to non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager.

"There is too much at stake to think of surrendering this advantage," De Jager said on Wednesday.

"Focussing on ultimately regaining a place in the prestigious World Group of the Davis Cup must be a priority.

"While I sympathise with those coastal venues who would like to have a taste of Davis Cup competition, all South Africa's leading players - Kevin Anderson, Rik De Voest and Izak van der Merwe - were brought up on the highveld and enjoy playing at high altitude."

De Jager said Pretoria, Johannesburg and Potchefstroom stood out as possible venues for the Slovenia tie, with financial costs and sponsorships likely to be the deciding factor.

South Africa played their last two Davis Cup matches in Potchefstroom in 2011 - a victory over the Netherlands and a crushing defeat at the hands of Croatia.

"The Slovenians, like most players from visiting countries, rarely play at high altitude and battle to adjust to the faster and higher bounce of the ball in these conditions, giving us a double advantage," De Jager said.

Despite the impeccable conditions of the court at the Potchefstroom University campus and the enthusiastic organisation, the out-of-the-way venue surprised many who felt attendances and much-needed public exposure suffered as a consequence.

Johannesburg, the traditional headquarters of SA tennis, would seem the most suitable and high-profiled venue for the Slovenia tie, but the SA Tennis Association may have a problem in securing a suitable venue.

Pretoria's Groenkloof Tennis Complex might, in the circumstances, emerge as a compromise venue.

A victory over Slovenia would secure the chance to compete in the World Group playoffs for the fourth successive year, following defeats against India (home), Germany (away) and Croatia (home) in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

"At this juncture all our top players are available for the Slovenia match," De Jager said.

"Depending on the playoff draw, of course, 2012 could be the best opportunity yet of returning to the Davis Cup World Group after more than a decade."

De Jager, however, said it would be foolhardy to take the Slovenians for granted, with the East Europeans having shown their mettle in a 5-0 drubbing of Denmark at the weekend.