It was elation all around in Estonia on Saturday as the KIA South Africa Fed Cup team dominated against Finland to gain promotion to the Euro/Africa Group 1.
South Africa flattened Finland 2-0 to end up unbeaten after their week-long Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group II tournament played in the city of Tallinn.
The two South African singles players, Chanel Simmonds and Chani Scheepers, dropped only eight games in beating their respective Finnish opponents in both singles rubbers played over two hours and 33 minutes.
Simmonds got her country onto the scoreboard first with a 6-2 6-4 win over Piia Suomalainen. Simmonds was too consistent for her opponent, taking the ball early and applying pressure, to keep Simmonds on the front foot and forcing Suomalainen to make many unforced errors.
It was then the South African number one, Chani Scheepers who clinched the tie for South Africa when she beat Finnish number one Ella Leivo 6-2 6-0.
Scheepers went on a streak of attacking returns and aggressive baseline play and simply outclassed Leivo from the start of every point.
The South African was able to dominate and remain that way right through the match, allowing the Finn no chance of using her consistency and power.
Following her victory Scheepers said: ‘We are happy with the promotion and hope this can further enhance women’s tennis in South Africa.’
Scheepers was unbeaten in all four of South Africa’s matches, against Egypt, Estonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Finland.
‘We did it and I am very happy’ said Captain Earl Grainger who applauded his charges. ‘This is a great achievement and is very good for South African tennis. I wanted South Africa to be dominant from the start of the week, and all players understood the team goal and what we were out to achieve.” The dead doubles rubber was not played in an agreement made between both captains.
South Africa concluded the week with a 9 – 3 match winning record and moved up to Europe/Africa Group 1 for 2016.
Tennis South Africa president, Gavin Crookes, sent his congratulations to Grainger and the team. ‘What a fantastic effort by Earl and all the team members. We are extremely proud of you all and congratulate each one of you for the part you played in this success. ‘Together with team sponsors KIA, City Lodge and Topspin, it is evident that a nice fresh energy has sprung within the team, complimented by our top ranked player Chani Scheepers’ availability, an energy that has transformed into a winning way and the combined effort has resulted in the aim and objective being reached of promotion into Group 1.’
In the picture of the victorious SA Fed Cup squad are, from left: team captain Grainger, team members Michelle Sammons, Simmonds, Ilze Hattingh, Scheepers and Tennis South Africa Fed Cup advisor and Board member Allan Karam.