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Harris first up at home for SA against Israel

A Youth Olympian in China four years ago, Lloyd Harris’s name was drawn first out the hat at Thursday’s official draw of the Davis Cup by PNB Paribas, Euro/Africa Group 1 tie between South Africa and Israel starting at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria on Friday.

This means the 21-year-old Capetonian will go out first for his country at 4pm after the opening ceremony on Friday against Israeli number two, Edan Lesham. This will be followed by the Nik Scholtz (South Africa) vs Dudi Sela (Israel) rubber.

On Saturday at 11am, the doubles rubber will start procedures with Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse named as the host team. Klaasen and Roelofse will play Jonathan Erlich and Daniel Cukierman. The doubles will be followed by the two reverse singles; Harris vs Sela and Scholtz vs Lesham.

In the new Davis Cup format being trialled this weekend, the tie will be played over two days (Friday and Saturday) instead of the usual three days and each of the five rubbers will be best of three instead of five sets. Captains may make player changes to any rubber up until an hour before the rubber commences using any player from the five nominated at the draw.

KIA SA Team captain Marcos Ondruska said that the team that started best would have the best advantage. ‘With the rubbers being the best of three sets, it’s important for us to make a good, quick start. We need to get onto the scoreboard and keep ahead of our opponents. I’m happy with the draw, Lloyd is in good shape and playing well and is confident to take on the challenge.’

Harris said that he was ready for Thursday, ‘I don’t normally go out first but I was ready for whatever the draw dictated. I have been practising and feeling the ball well under the lights so was ready to play first or second.’

As for Scholtz, he said that he respected his opponent Dudi Sela and saw him as a real challenge, ‘Dudi is a great player with a good pedigree but after my big five-set win here at Irene a few ties back, I feel confident that I can perform well for myself, my team and country.’

Scholtz said that the tie was evenly poised. ‘This is going to be a good weekend of tennis. Both sides are evenly matched so it can go any way but I’m confident that the KIA SA team, with home advantage and the support of the locals, can pull off the win.’

Picture of Harris and Scholtz courtesy of Reg Caldecott

Opening ceremony 3.45pm

Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs Edan Lesham (ISR)
Followed by: Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Dudi Sela (ISR)

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

South Africa: Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse, Tucker Vorster, Marcos Ondruska (captain)
Israel: Dudi Sela, Edan Lesham, Jonathan Erlich, Daniel Cukierman, Igor Smilansky, Harel Levy (captain)