Klaasen To Lead South Africa In Davis Cup Against Bulgaria

Raven Klaasen (photo: Peter Heeger)

CENTURION, September 4, 2022 (Tennis SA Press Release)

Relying on the country’s most experienced doubles player and a trio of exciting young prospects, the South African team will be eager to bounce back later this month when a four-man national squad faces Bulgaria in the Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group II tie at the National Tennis Centre in Sofia, Bulgaria on 16 and 17 September.

After falling to Israel in a promotion playoff in Ashdod earlier this year, South Africa will be without some key stars as they look to hit back against Bulgaria, with the country’s top-ranked singles players missing from the tie. Lloyd Harris is recovering from injury and Kholo Montsi is unavailable for personal reasons.

The South African team will fancy their chances, however, spearheaded by doubles specialist Raven Klaasen, who has played 21 Davis Cup ties since 2009.

The national team, announced by South African captain Christo van Rensburg on Sunday, also features three US-based collegiate players – Philip Henning, and Davis Cup debutants Lleyton Cronje and Richard Thongoana – who are all under the age of 24.

Within reach of each other ahead of the tie, Van Rensburg said it would make things logistically easier, which would work in their favour.

In addition, all the players were already working hard in their own environments, and he was confident about their form.

“Team preparation will be easier,” Van Rensburg said after unveiling the promising young national squad.

“Three guys are at college and training hard with their teammates, getting back on track after the holiday break.

“Raven is playing in the US Open and I enjoyed seeing him win in the first round with former number one Marcelo Mello (of Brazil) as his partner.”

Henning and Cronje are both 21, and Thongoana is 23, and while they will add a fresh new dimension to the team’s approach, Van Rensburg admits the presence of 39-year-old Klaasen will be key.

“Raven, as always, is the easiest decision to make when selecting the squad,” the skipper said.

“He is still playing some great tennis and his experience is priceless. He always takes on a mentoring role on court with the younger guys, so I listen to his views, and we exchange ideas.”

The South African team will be looking for their second victory over Bulgaria in the Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group II contest.

In the only previous tie between the two countries – played in Cape Town in 2019 – the hosts earned a 4-1 win.