JOHANNESBURG - The South African Davis Cup team may be considered to be the underdogs going into their Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 tie against Israel but will bank on their recent successes to get the win at the Irene Country Club over the weekend.
The home side has been consistent in its selections over the last three ties which have seen the country promoted the next tier of the global team tennis competition.
Israel are ranked eight places above South Africa in the world and bring a wealth of experience into the tie.
South Africa’s No 1-ranked player Lloyd Harris is one of the team’s trump cards playing at the Irene Country Club where he has not lost a single rubber.
The 20-year-old Harris will have the added responsibility of playing in the opening rubber which could set the pace for the tie.
The team will face their toughest challenge of the last two years but if Harris had any fears, he did not show it.
“It is certainly business as usual, we are coming up against a tough team but we are playing in front of our home crowd,” Harris said.
“We’ve done really well over here in Irene, so we are pretty confident and we will just give our best over the weekend and hopefully get the result.”
Harris will face Edan Leshem, who is ranked 255th in the world in Friday's opening rubber.
“It is crazy to think I’ve played quite a lot of ties already and it feels like I have become part of the team very quickly,” he said.
“To an extent, there is more weighing on me now that I am playing each tie and I just want to do the best for the team and the country.”
The team’s second singles player Nik Scholtz (326) will be buoyed by his performances over the last few months after he reached a Futures final in Egypt while winning two Digicall Futures titles in Stellenbosch at the end of last year.
He will cross swords with Israel’s No 1 player Dudi Sela, who is ranked 95th in the world.
“I think I’ve had my best season last year and I took two weeks off before I started training again so this will be my first competitive match,” Scholtz said. “We’ve played a lot of practice matches, we’ve been training hard and Lloyd and I have been in Cape Town together.”
Doubles ace Raven Klaasen will combine with regular Davis Cup partner Ruan Roelofse and will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches against Jonathan Erlich and Daniel Cukierma.