Davis Cup action in Soweto

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

South African tennis players begin their quest to qualify for the World Group Tournament when they compete in the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Group 2 tie against Belarus in Soweto today.

The event, mixing singles and doubles matches, will be played at the revamped Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Central Western Jabavu.

It ends on Sunday.

The winners will have to negotiate their way to the World Group next year by beating the loser of the world event.

Eight countries elsewhere in the world will meet in July in the quarterfinals of the World Group event and the team that loses in the final will play the winner of the Davis Cup tie in Soweto.

South Africa's second seed Izak van der Merwe opens proceedings today against Belarus number one Vladzimir Ignatik at 10am.

Ignatik was the world's number one junior two years ago and won the French Open at that level as well as being a Wimbledon junior finalist.

In another match today, South Africa's number one Rik de Voest should have little trouble defeating Belarus number two Andrei Karatchenia.

Tomorrow's doubles match will be the other tussle targeted by Belarus.

In veteran Max Mirnyi they have a man with an impeccable doubles pedigree, including two US Opens and two French Opens.

Although his legs might be getting a little weary, Mirnyi is partnered by the 18-year-old Ignatik, who still has many miles to cover at this early stage of his professional career, which is just four months old.

The world-class Jeff Coetzee and De Voest will need all their court craft against a man who has captured 36 doubles titles.

People of Soweto and surrounding areas are urged to come in numbers to rally behind the South Africans.

This after the recent International Tennis Federation Soweto men's and women's tournaments attracted poor crowds at the same venue.


Today - Izak van der Merwe (SA) v Vladzimir Ignatik (Belarus), Rik de Voest (SA) v Andrei Karatchenia (Belarus)

Tomorrow (doubles) - Jeff Coetzee and De Voest v Ignatik and Mirnyi

Sunday - De Voest v Ignatik, Van der Merwe v Karatchenia.