Dual tennis role for De Jager

2011-11-07 15:52

Johannesburg - Former doubles specialist John-Laffnie de Jager has been appointed captain of South Africa's Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.

The SA Tennis Association (SATA) announced on Monday that De Jager, who had captained the Davis Cup side for the last six years, would lead both the men's and women's squads for the next two seasons.

"John-Laffnie has had a great record with the Davis Cup side, and considering his knowledge and passion to develop players, we felt this was the best decision," said SATA chief executive Ian Smith.

De Jager takes the reins of the struggling women's team from Greer Leo-Smith.

He said he had not been approached by SATA to captain both teams, but had applied for both jobs.

"As a player I always wanted to represent South Africa, and as the captain, it is an even greater honour," he said.

The nation's Davis Cup team, hampered by injuries, has stumbled at the final hurdle for three years in succession after being eliminated in the World Group playoffs.

The Fed Cup side, meanwhile, climbed from the bottom division of the women's competition this year, and De Jager said they would aim for the next step in 2012 by qualifying for the Euro/Africa Group I.

"These are challenging times for both teams," he admitted.

The men's squad had looked more formidable in the last 12 months, according to De Jager, following the return of Kevin Anderson, though injuries to the SA No 1 continued to hamper their progress.

De Jager said one of his priorities would be getting SA women's No 1 Chanelle Scheepers, ranked 38th in the world, to make herself available for the Fed Cup competition.

"We've seen a huge difference with Kevin playing in the Davis Cup," De Jager said.

"I'm planning to have talks with Chani so we can try and fit it in her schedule and she can play in the Fed Cup.

"Natalie Grandin [SA's top women's doubles specialist] has been playing really well, but you need a solid singles No 1.

"One of my priorities is going to be getting Chani to play, and making sure that Kevin keeps playing as well."