VILNIUS, June 17, 2021 (SA Tennis Press Release)
Team South Africa secured a place in Friday’s Billie Jean King Cup Europe/Africa Group III promotion play-off with a 3-0 win over Montenegro in Vilnius, Lithuania on Thursday.
Teenager Delien Kleinhans put South Africa ahead with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Tea Nikcevicin in the first singles match. After a shaky start, Kleinhans began to take control of the match fighting back from 5-3 down in the first set to winning 10 of the last 11 games.
South African No.1 Chanel Simmonds took to court next knowing the hopes of her country firmly rested on her shoulders. The 28-year-old eased past Divna Ratkovic 6-1, 6-0 to give South Africa the all-important win.
In the doubles rubber, SA Captain Roxanne Clarke opted for the young doubles’ combination of Delien Kleinhans and Lara van der Merwe to do duty.
Kleinhans and Van der Merwe wasted no time edging out Petra Mirkovic and Tea Nikcevic with a clean sweep, 6-0, 6-0 victory to seal the tie win and finish top of Group F.
🇿🇦South Africa secured a place in the @BJKCup Euro/Africa Group III promotion play-off with a 3-0 win over Montenegro. ✌️
Delien Kleinhans bt T. Nikcevicin 7-5 6-1
Chanel Simmonds bt D. Ratkovic 6-1 6-0
Kleinhans / Van der Merwe bt Mirkovic / Nikcevic 6-0 6-0
📷Tennis Lithuania pic.twitter.com/t5RTA5HvEx
— Tennis South Africa (@TennisSA) June 17, 2021
Captain Roxanne Clarke said she was proud of her girls, “I’m excited that we were able to get through the group stage. Things will get harder from here, but we are ready for the challenge. I’m super proud of this team and looking forward to tomorrow.”
“Delien (Kleinhans) was quite nervous at the start of her match. Her opponent had a big serve and was playing aggressively inside the court. But she hung in there and fought her way back into it. From 5-3 down in the first set, she got through some really tough games and ended up winning 10 of the last 11 games. I’m sure everyone who was following the live scoring breathed a sigh of relief after she won that first set.”
“Then it was up to Chanel to bring it home for us. Ratkovic is a crafty player and she makes it difficult for you to find any sort of rhythm. But Chanel was just too smart and dealt with her game very well. She won all the big points. Delien and Lara then put on a clinical display in the doubles,” concluded Clarke.
South Africa will face Malta in Friday’s promotion play-off.
South Africa beat Montenegro 3-0
Delien Kleinhans (RSA) bt Tea Nikcevicin (MNE) 7-5, 6-1
Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt Divna Ratkovic (MNE) 6-1, 6-0
Delien Kleinhans / Lara van der Merwe (RSA) bt Petra Mirkovic / Tea Nikcevic (MNE) 6-0, 6-0