SOUTH African tennis star Rik de Voest has been a Davis Cup stalwart for many years, but his next match for his country should have extra special significance.
When South Africa take on Monaco in a Euro-Africa group 2 tie from January 31-February 2 it will be the ultimate homecoming for De Voest, with the match scheduled to be played at the Irene Country Club, just outside Pretoria.
For the 33-year-old De Voest, SA’s second-ranked world player at 170, this is where it all started when he was five years old.
Even though SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager still has to name his team, it is certain De Voest, who has confirmed his availability, will be in the lineup.
Reflecting on his links with the club, De Voest said: “We moved to Irene in 1984 and my parents joined the club. This is where I had my first introduction to tennis and I fondly remember hitting balls with my dad with a wooden racket, so effectively this is where my tennis started.
“I took my first tennis lessons at the Irene Country Club, and because we lived close by, I made use of the courts frequently in my younger years.”
In those days, there were only two courts at the club. Today, the Country Club is thriving, having undergone a renovation which included the addition of new courts. This has increased the popularity of tennis at the club and attracted new members.
After De Voest turned professional, Irene Country Club became involved in a tennis initiative with the local farm school. De Voest gave the project his full support.
“I have always donated all my used tennis rackets and clothing and footwear to the programme.”
The tie will be on a hard court with seats for 700 spectators.