Tennis

Davis Cup is a prime chance for youngsters

2018-01-21 06:04
IN THE BIG LEAGUE: Siphosothando Montsi. (BLD Communications)

Johannesburg - Siphosothando Montsi will compete in the Davis Cup Europe/Africa Group One competition against Israel, which will take place at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria on February 2 and 3.

Montsi (18) and 17-year-old Philip Henning will be hitting partners.

“[They are] a nice addition to the team,” said South African Davis Cup Captain Marcos Ondruska a few days ago.

“Last year, [Montsi] was in Irene and we had a good time with him. We practised hard and it was a pleasure having him,” he added.

Gifted young player

He said the inclusion of the youngsters in the squad will help them develop ­because they would be able to see how ­senior players prepared for matches.

“It can only be a good thing for them. We are looking for good things from this next batch of kids coming out of the juniors. Hopefully, they will go on to become seniors".

Montsi, who is ranked 1 489th in the world, lost his first-round match in the Australian Open juniors last year. He later made headlines when Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray, the mother of three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray, congratulated him on his performance.

Murray tweeted a photo with Montsi, saying: “Today I watched the most naturally gifted young player Siphosothando Montsi from South Africa".

Henning is preparing to play in the Australian Open junior championship. Last week, the youngster from Bloemfontein impressed by qualifying for the Traralgon Junior International.

The Davis Cup squad are Lloyd Harris, Nicolaas Scholtz, Ruan Roelofse, Raven Klaasen and Tucker Vorster. Former elite doubles player Jeff Coetzee will act as the coaching consultant for the team.

At number 291 in the world, Harris is South Africa’s second-highest ranked singles player behind Kevin ­Anderson. Scholtz is the second-ranked player in the team, at 326.

Professional players

Ranked 25 and 143 in ATP world doubles respectively, Klaasen and Roelofse are the team’s doubles specialists. The duo have remained unbeaten in the six Davis Cup matches they have played together.

Klaasen, together with his then partner Rajeev Ram of the US, was nominated for an ATP World Tour award last year. The pair won the doubles title at Indian Wells after beating Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.

Vorster has played five times for South Africa in singles and doubles and his experience is crucial for the team.

Harris and the country’s top-ranked female player, Chanel Simmonds, are two of 29 players from 20 countries selected to receive this year’s international player grand slam grants financed by the Grand Slam Development Fund.

Now in its second year, the programme will provide $650 000 (R7.9 million) to selected players from around the world as a contribution towards their competition costs. It aims to develop them into professional players who will compete in grand slam tournaments.

Davis Cup tickets are available on webtickets.co.za or at Pick n Pay stores for R150.

Read more on:    davis cup  |  johannesburg  |  tennis
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