SA Davis Cup captain Ondruska names Harris as his top singles player for tie against Estonia

South African Davis Cup captain Marcos Ondruska on Tuesday named Lloyd Harris as his top singles player for the upcoming tie against Estonia‚ saying he had the potential to rocket up the world rankings.

SA host the newly promoted East Europeans in a Europe/Africa Group II tie at Irene Country Club near Pretoria from February 3-5.

Harris and doubles star Raven Klaasen‚ ranked 11th in the world‚ are the cornerstones of his five-strong squad which also include Nik Scholtz and Tucker Vorster (for singles) and Ruan Roelofse (doubles).

The team will be whittled down to four the day before the tie.

“I’m very excited about the team‚ I think it’s a strong team‚” Ondruska said in a media conference call from his US home in Atlanta.

“To have Raven on the side‚ with his age‚ his experience and his capability helps to spearhead the team.”

But the skipper was full of praise for Harris‚ the 19-year-old who is ranked just 284 in the world.

“He’s one of the most talented individuals out there in the game … for me there’s no doubt he should be top 30 somewhere along the line in his career.”

Harris won six Futures tournaments in a row last year‚ and Ondruska is tipping him to make his mark in the world’s most prestigious tournaments.

“He’s worked really hard over the last couple of weeks in the off-season over here and he’s in a great place.

"It’s a really fun space for him to be in … he moves up 30‚ 40 spots and he’s getting into qualifying of Grand Slams …

“I wouldn’t be surprised seeing him getting to a Grand Slam qualifying and doing some damage in one of these Grand Slams sooner rather than later. That’s what I’m expecting of him.”

He said he was buoyed by recent conversations he had had with Kevin Anderson‚ who has been struggling with injury.

“It’s definitely open … He’s definitely more excited about Davis Cup than ever before‚” said Ondruska‚ adding Anderson’s chief concerns were about injury and schedule.

Ondruska’s grand plan to get the SA Davis Cup team back to the main World Group would be boosted if Anderson were to return.

But he warned that Estonia would be tougher than SA’s last opponents at the same venue‚ Luxembourg‚ who were trounced 5-0.

Their No1 player‚ Jurgen Zopp‚ enjoyed a career-high ranking of 71 in late 2012‚ although the 28-year-old has since slipped to 314.

But Ondruska is confident SA have the firepower to get past them.

“If we can’t get through these guys then we don’t really belong in the World Group and that’s just the honest truth.”

The captain also announced the SA team had signed a new sponsor for the first time in more than five years.

The deal with Kia Motors SA is for a year‚ although there is an option to extend. - TMG Digital

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