As expected South African Davis Cup captain, Marcos Ondruska announced 19-year-old Lloyd Harris and Tucker Vorster as his No1 and No2 nominated singles player at the official draw of this weekend’s Euro Africa Group 2 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie between South Africa and Lithuania.
The tie will be played at the Azuolynas Tennis Centre, Kaunas, Lithuania from Friday until Sunday.
South Africa’s top-10 ranked world doubles player and Wimbledon doubles semi-finalist, Raven Klaasen will spearhead the South African doubles challenge and Ondruska nominated Ruan Roelofse as his partner for the doubles rubber on Saturday.
World No410 Tucker Vorster, will get South Africa’s weekend campaign under way against Lithuania on Friday at 10am SA time. Tucker will play Laurynas Grigelis the Lithuanian nominated number one player, in the opening rubber. This will be the first time that the two have met. This will be followed by the second Friday singles rubber between 323rd ranked Lloyd Harris, South Africa’s number one nominated player (and a 2014 Youth Olympian) and Lithuanian number two Lukas Mugevicius, who also have never player each other.
On Saturday at 12 noon SA time, Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse will team up and play against Laurynas Grigelis and Lukas Mugevicius.
Sunday sees the reverse singles being played from 10am with the No1 players doing battle first followed by the No2 players.
The draw for the first round Group 2 Europe/Africa tie was made at the Medziotoju Uzeiga in the official hotel on Thursday and Laurynas Grigelis’ name was drawn for the first singles rubber by tie referee, Sergei Dubrov of Belarus.
The absence of Lithuanian No1, Ricardas Barankis ranked 57th on the world rankings has somewhat strengthened the South African chances but captain Marcos Ondruska and his team remain upbeat yet cautious about their chances this weekend. ‘We have the best possible side experience wise for this tie. We all know that should Barankis have played for Lithuania it would have been tougher but Lithuania still have a good side and are playing at home in front of their fans on the surface they chose red clay outdoors so it’s going to be a big challenge,’ continued Ondruska.
Ondruska said that he believed the team assembled for this weekend are the best for the job. ‘My boys are passionate about playing for their country and will do us all proud there is a very happy mood in the camp and the guys are looking extremely sharp, much better than they were on the weekend when they arrived, and got onto the clay, they are ready to give their all this weekend.’
The most senior South African player in the team Raven Klaasen said he was happy that Ruan had been named as his partner for Saturday as the two have played successfully together before.
‘I see this as an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles rubber on Saturday,’ said Klaasen. ‘Ruan and I have a good record together and hopefully by the time we play the doubles South Africa will be leading so that we can sew up the result before the start of Sunday’s reverse singles.’
Ondruska said he was surprised that Lithuania had nominated their two singles players for the doubles. ‘If the Lithuanian singles player play on Friday and then team up for the doubles on Saturday they could well have fatigue by Sunday which will work in our favour.’
This is the second time that the two nations have met in Davis Cup competition. South Africa beat Lithuania 3-2 in a tough tie at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria in 2014.
In the picture supplied by Tennis South Africa, the South African Davis Cup team pictured in Lithuania after the draw ceremony (left to right) captain Ondruska and players Harris, Vorster, Roelofse and Klaasen.