SA not losing sleep‚ apart from Scholtz‚ over higher-ranked Estonians for Davis Cup tie

02 February 2017 - 14:43 By David Isaacson

If the South Africans were feeling pressure ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Estonia that starts in Pretoria on Friday morning‚ they were hiding it well on Thursday.

Davis Cup number 2 singles players, Nik Scholtz of South Africa (l) and Vladimir Ivanov of Estonia during the official draw for the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Estonia at the Irene Country Club on February 02, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Davis Cup number 2 singles players, Nik Scholtz of South Africa (l) and Vladimir Ivanov of Estonia during the official draw for the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Estonia at the Irene Country Club on February 02, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images

Number two player Nik Scholtz was on Thursday drawn to play Estonia’s top player Jurgen Zopp in the opening game‚ which starts at 10am at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, Pretoria.

But Scholtz insisted there was no added weight on his shoulder — apart from having to wake up earlier.

“I’m not so much an early bird‚ I would have liked to get the later shift but it is what it is … just got to wake up earlier‚” he said.

“Hopefully it’ll be a bit cooler in the morning. I don’t have too much of a preference so I’m fine with that.”

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Scholtz is ranked 517 in the world‚ exactly 200 spots lower than Zopp‚ who was once inside the top 100‚ at 71 in late 2012.

He will have the home-ground advantage‚ with family and friends preparing to flood the small stands at Irene Country Club.

SA’s No1 player‚ the 288-ranked Lloyd Harris‚ said he had enjoyed good preparation since arriving last weekend.

He also praised his teammates.

“We have Nik that will be playing the first match so hopefully he gives me something to build on‚” Harris said.

Interjected Scholtz‚ to laughter: “Thanks for that.”

“I’m very confident in my boy Nik‚” 19-year-old Harris retorted with a smile.

SA team captain Marcos Ondruska‚ a regular player himself some 20 years ago‚ believes the tie doesn’t hang on the first match.

“Lloyd has played enough Davis Cups now‚ he’s been part of the team and I think the team dynamic has improved over the year and a bit that I’ve got to know these guys.

“His experience is growing and building so he’s able to handle some of these big moments and some of the disappointments that come with those big moments inevitably.

“The team is behind each other significantly more than they were at the start.

  • Davis Cup draw - SA's Scholtz meets Estonia ace Zopp in first gameSouth Africa’s No.2 singles player Nik Scholtz will kick off the Europe/Africa Group II tie against Estonia in Pretoria on Friday morning.  

“So while it’s not the best way to go into this tie‚ if you’re 1-0 down‚ it’s an acceptable one and one that I’m very confident in him that he will be able to come out and play his best tennis anyway.”

Zopp was perhaps a little more open about the nerves of playing in the opening game.

“Of course there’s pressure‚ but I’m used to it‚” he said.

With late substitutions allowed‚ it is possible that Zopp and Ivanov — both ranked considerably higher than the incumbents‚ Kenneth Raisma and Mattias Siimar — could be drafted into Saturday’s doubles match.

Draw:

Friday’s singles: Nik Scholtz (singles ranking: 517) v Jurgen Zopp (317); Lloyd Harris (288) v Vladimir Ivanov (442).

Saturday’s doubles: Raven Klaasen (doubles ranking: 13) and Ruan Roelofse (177) v Kenneth Raisma (1065) and Mattias Siimar (unranked).

Sunday’s reverse singles: Lloyd Harris v Jurgen Zopp; Nik Scholtz v Vladimir Ivanov.

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport