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Captain calls on Kevin

By Mark Etheridge

Having finished Finland off, South Africa’s Davis Cup tennis team now move along the alphabet when they take on Germany in the World Group play-offs in September.

The draw was made this week and it’s going to be a tough call for the South Africans, way tougher than their 5-0 flaying of the Fins at Groenkloof, Pretoria last week.

Each one of the nine-strong German squad boast higher rankings than South Africa’s top rated player Kevin Anderson. And the bad news is that 97th ranked Anderson has previously not been overly keen on Davis Cup representation, mainly due to tournament scheduling issues.

But the good news is that team captain John-Laffnie de Jager reckons that Anderson may just be persuaded to serve his country for the September 17-19 encounter which will take place on German soil.

“I did speak to Kevin after we beat Finland,” confirmed De Jager, “and I sent him the schedule and details and I really believe he wants to play. We are going to chat at Wimbledon again and lets hope things go well from there.”

De Jager acknowledged the toughness of the draw. “It’s tough, there’s no doubting that, but there were also a lot of other tough draw options. Ideally we would have liked to play Switzerland here in South Africa and at altitude but that is how draws work out.

“The host country get to choose the city the tie is played in as well as the surface and there’s nothing we can do about that. My first concern is getting Kevin on board. I understand that schedules and travel are very important but everyone should be able to make a sacrifice and there’s a responsibility about playing for one’s country. He hasn’t played since about 2008 I think so let’s just hold thumbs.”

Some good news for SA hopes is that the dangerous Tommy Haas, ranked 20th in the world and a Davis Cup regular, is now unavailable for Germany after having recently taken out United States citizenship.

Still, five of the German line-up are in the world’s top 50 — highest ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber (29th), Philipp Petzchner (42nd), Michael Berrer (43), Benjamin Becker (46) and Florian Meyer (48).

“I’d like to choose our team soon,” said De Jager. “Obviously I haven’t got a huge pool to choose from, the four guys who last played and then also in the doubles Jeff (Coetzee).”

The full list of games following the World Group playoff draw (with home teams mentioned first):
Germany v South Africa, Israel v Austria, US v Colombia, Sweden v Italy, India v Brazil, Australia v Belgium, Kazakhstan v Switzerland, Romania v Ecuador