Rookie Salton hits the deck running
SA's Davis Cup team hoping to earn promotion at the expense of Israel
Uncapped Dylan Salton has hit the deck running in SA's Davis Cup team as they prepare to take on Israel in their World Group 1 promotion play-off.
The teams clash on Friday and Saturday in Ashdod, a port city in Israel, and captain Christo van Rensburg has already been impressed by what the youngest member of the squad has served up.
Salton has already made his presence felt after a two-hour session with the SA team's star player, Lloyd Harris.
“Lloyd had his first practice with Dylan, and he was very impressed with how Dylan was hitting the ball, so that's promising,” said Van Rensburg.
Harris, the highest-ranking South African at 34 on the ATP rankings, will very much lead the charge but the visitors are also desperate to make an impression in the doubles.
Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Vaughn Hunter are Van Rensburg's doubles options.
“All the doubles players in the team have also been working together, getting used to the conditions and the indoor court,” said the captain.
Not first-choice squad
Though he admitted the SA team was not a first-choice squad, with some players being unavailable due to US collegiate commitments, Van Rensburg said it was important to compromise with universities, which formed a breeding ground for the sport.
And he was pleased to have continued commitment from SA's top-ranked singles (Harris) and doubles (Klaasen) players, along with Davis Cup veteran Roelofse, who formed the backbone of the larger national squad.
“The American college circuit is very important for many of our players, giving them opportunities at the start of their careers,” Van Rensburg said. “The extra depth would have been nice but I'm also very happy with the new guys (Salton and Hunter).”
This week's tie, which gives the SA team a chance to return to Group I in the international team competition, will be played in front of a packed stadium in Ashdod. Organisers have already sold 1,500 tickets, which is likely to make for a very patriotic atmosphere for the hosts.
“It's going to be an eye-opening experience for the younger guys in the team because it's going to be loud. Israel is going to have a lot of support and I think it's going to be crazy,” Van Rensburg predicted. “There is going to be an amazing atmosphere and we're all looking forward to what promises to be an exciting matchup against our hosts.”
The draw for the Davis Cup play-off tie will be held on Thursday.