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Harris wins but Davis Cup is all square in Irene

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Marcos Ondruska, the KIA South African Davis Cup captain asked his team to make an early and solid start ahead of their tie against Israel being played at the Irene Country Club and SA No1 Lloyd Harris heeded the call!

The Youth Olympian from four years ago, came out firing all cylinders beating Israeli number two, Edan Lethem 7-5 6-4 on Friday to give his country a 1-0 lead.

Harris needed 1hr 20min to beat his higher world ranked opponent and slammed down 12 aces throughout the match.

The first break of the rubber came in the fifth game of the opening set, giving Harris a 3-2 lead. But Lethem broke back three games later to level the set at 5-5. Harris immediately broke back and served out for a 7-5 set win.

In the second set, there was one break of serve in the South African’s favour No97, Dudi Sela. Sela is a seasoned professional and Davis Cup campaigner having represented Israel in no less than 27 ties.

Sela dominated the opening set 6-1 and looked in unbeatable form. But Scholtz, with the support of an enthusiastic crowd, was not going to give up the fight. In the second set, he served well and forced the set into a tie breaker.

Scholtz dominated the breaker 7-1, helped by a scintillating forehand winner down the line which clearly rattled Sela to set up set point.

Then the thunder storm that had threatened since the start of the rubber, broke and showered down and play was suspended for over an hour.

British referee, Phil Evans decided to give the weather a chance and complete the match. Eventually at 8.35pm the players were called back to court. Unfortunately for South Africa, Scholtz’s momentum disappeared after winning the second set and Sela raced to a 3-0 lead in the final set.

Again, Scholtz dug deep and using his big serve to full advantage, levelled at 3-3. The second set went with serve until the 11th game when Sela broke and then held serve to win the match 6-1 6-7 (1) 7-5 and secure Israel the important win and levelling the tie 1-1.

SA skipper Ondruska said he was happy with his boys after the first day, ‘I was very proud of Lloyd and Nik. Lloyd showed his class against a player ranked higher than him and really delivered for the team. Nik also came to the party, after going down in the first set and winning only one game, to make the comeback he did was impressive.’

Ondruska said the rain delay sadly took the momentum away from Scholtz, ‘When rain stopped play Nik was in the groove and yes it was a pity we had to suspend play.

‘We saw glimpses of the Nik that a few ties ago here at Irene caused a major upset in five sets. Even after the slow start in the final set, Nik fought hard and it was heart-breaking to see him loose after such a fight. He can be real proud of his effort against a top class player.’

On Saturday, play starts at 11am with the doubles rubber followed by the two reverse singles.

The order of play is as follows;

Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) vs Jonathan Erlich/Daniel Cukierman (ISR)
Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs Dudi Sela (ISR)
Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Edan Lethem (ISR)

Picture of Harris in action on Friday courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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