Rookies excited about Davis Cup chance
Johannesburg – Rookies Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk, who jetted into Moscow with the rest of South Africa's Davis Cup squad, were excited at the prospect of making their debuts for the national team.
Both players received the call from South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie De Jager requesting their availability for the weekend tie against Russia.
The tie, to be played in Moscow from October 25-27, was a huge challenge for South Africa. They must beat Russia to remain in the Euro/Africa Group 1. The loser of the tie would slip down to Group 2 and, once there, the road back to Group 1 would be a long and tough one.
De Jager was without his top six choices, unavailable through injuries and personal reasons.
Only Raven Klaasen, the country's top world ranked doubles player, and rising star Dean O'Brien, who was chosen for but did not play against Slovenia two months ago, were available.
De Jager then made a call to select Vorster and De Klerk and both players jumped at the opportunity.
Vorster, from Pretoria, was in Great Britain playing the Futures Circuit.
Aged 25, he had represented South Africa for the first time at the age of 14 in the Junior World Championships in France as well as the African Junior Championships in Tunisia.
He won the South African Junior Nationals in the boys under 18 age group.
After his junior years, Vorster played four years of US college tennis at the University of Mississippi, where he also received a degree in Psychology.
Tucker then turned professional and had enjoyed steady success on the Futures Tour. He was planning on playing the ATP Challenger Tour next year.
De Klerk, like Vorster, was one of South Africa's most successful junior players. As an under-12 and under-14 player, he won the Nike Junior Tour South African Masters and represented South Africa at the International Masters in France and Spain, respectively.
De Klerk, from Ashton in the Western Cape, went to school in Stellenbosch. He is studying at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, and reached the semifinals of the recent NCAA Championships.
At 21, he is ranked impressively at number 12 on the US College rankings.
De Jager said he was confident his choices were the right ones.
“Tucker has been knocking on the Davis Cup door for some time. He has impressed on the Futures Circuit and can play solid singles and doubles which is important for our team,” De Jager said.
“Japie is playing great tennis and proved his worth by reaching the last four of the tough NCAA Champs.
“By exposing both Tucker and Japie to Davis Cup so early in their career is good for both of them individually and helps me build a solid young team for the future.”
Meanwhile, the Russian Tennis Federation have changed the venue of the tie, from the originally chosen Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club to the Olympic Stadium which, according to the Russians is a “far better facility” and “was not available initially but only on Wednesday did become available”.
South Africa have approved the late change of venue. The surface remains hard indoor court.
Russia: Alex Bogomolov Jr, Andrey Kuznetsov, Karen Khachanov, Konstantin Kravchuk. Captain: Shamil Tarpischev.
South Africa: Dean O'Brien, Tucker Vorster, Jacob (Japie) De Klerk, Raven Klaasen. Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager. – Sapa