Cape Town - The South African Fed Cup team prepared for their upcoming Euro/Africa Group 3 event by practising on a privately-owned clay court in Stellenbosch this past weekend.
The Fed Cup event, scheduled for Montenegro later this month, will be played on clay and therefore SA captain Rene Plant opted for her players to grow more accustomed to their least-favoured surface.
South African-based squad players Madrie le Roux, Minette van Vreden and Lungile Ntuli attended the camp which focused specifically on clay court movement and doubles skills.
Joining the three players was Stellenbosch University’s No 2-ranked player Sinazo Solani, in order to make a fourth option for doubles practise.
Team members Chanel Simmonds and Katie Poluta could not make the camp as they are still in the USA.
Plant worked the girls on clay court singles tactics and called on former Davis Cup player, Jeff Coetzee, who is presently a leading coach on the ATP Tour, to conduct a session on doubles tactics.
Coetzee, a former world top 10 doubles player, also shared valuable information on how to make something happen when playing doubles and on how to put pressure on your opponents.
“It was a great pleasure to be invited to work with the Fed Cup squad this weekend. I thought the camp went very well and hopefully the tips I gave the girls on the dynamics of doubles play and how to play the volley and play smart doubles on clay will assist them in their preparation for Montenegro,” Coetzee commented via a press statement.
Former Fed Cup player, Ilana Kloss, made a special appearance at the camp where she met the team and wished them luck and gave them a message about the value of representing South Africa in a team competition.
“There is no number 1 in a team, each team member plays a vital role in the overall success of the team and team work is dream work,” advised Kloss.
Kloss was a reserve as a 17-year-old in the winning South African Fed Cup team of 1972.
Although Kloss did not play a rubber in that historic Fed Cup event, she admitted that just being part of the process inspired her to continue to play and become a professional player.
The physical conditioning of the players was not overlooked, as Fed Cup team physiotherapist Karen Frye attended the camp to assess their fitness levels, after implementing fitness and movement programmes for them at the start of the year.
Plant was extremely happy with the camp.
“All the players have worked extremely hard and it was an important step to create some bonding and spirit in the team.”
The South African team departed Tuesday to play in the Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group 3 tournament from April 16-21 at the Ulcinj Bellevue in Ulcinj, Montenegro.
Jeff Coetzee oversees the SA Fed Cup team's practice... (Photo credit: BLD Communications)