| Early US Open exits aid SA’s Davis Cup preparations

Cape Town – The early exit of South Africans at the recent US Open has meant that the Davis Cup team has had loads of time to prepare for this weekend’s Europe/Africa Group II tie against Bulgaria at the Kelvin Grove Club in Cape Town.

Lloyd Harris, SA’s lone player in the main draw, made a first-round exit and Raven Klaasen and his Kiwi partner Michael Venus bombed out in the second round at Flushing Meadows, New York.

South Africa’s non-playing captain Marcos Ondruska said Harris and Klaasen travelled straight to Cape Town where they were joined by Ruan Roelofse. All three players are Cape Town-based.

The fourth member of the side is Bloemfontein-born Philip Henning who flew in from USA where he attends university.

“The players were working on their own even before the squad assembled and that has helped them to acclimatise and become familiar with conditions,” said Ondruska.

“The players are from Cape Town, so they have their set-ups in place here. They will be familiar with conditions.”

Ondruska said the preparations were on track.

“The first sessions went well and there is excitement in the camp. We’re happy with what we have (players) in the team,” he said. “The venue Kelvin Grove courts are great, and the setting is spectacular.”

A fairly strong breeze has been swirling around the Kelvin Grove Sports Complex over the past few days, and Ondruska is not sure what to expect on match days.

“The weather will be a wild card,” said Ondruska. “Over the next day or two we’ll be working on strategy, so we’ll factor in the weather. A player like Lloyd (Harris) is learning to cope with day-to-day changes in conditions. He’s at that stage of his career where he’s learning to craft the day. Ruan (Roelofse) knows the conditions and he has major strengths as well as variations in his game.”

Bulgaria’s captain Todor Enev, speaking at Tuesday’s pre-draw presser in Rondebosch, said he was pleased that South Africa opted to play the tie at sea-level rather than high-altitude.

In the past, the high-altitude courts always proved to be a reliable weapon in SA’s Davis Cup armoury.

“It suits us fine to be playing here at sea-level,” said Enev, who added that none of his players had been to South Africa before. “We’ll have five days to prepare under local conditions and the only thing troubling us is the wind. On the other hand, the SA team is used to the wind. All our players are fit. It’s a young team but very pumped up for the match.”

Enev praised the organisation at Kelvin Grove and said all the facilities were excellent. The players were well-catered for.

– Tennis South Africa

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