THE South African tennis team retained their spot in the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Zone Group 2 with a whitewash over Ireland in a relegation tie at the weekend.
Few had given the SA team – without Kevin Anderson and doubles star Raven Klaasen – a chance against an Irish team boasting players with superior world rankings.
But Fritz Wolmarans set the tone for the victory by beating Irish No 1 James McGee in the opening rubber at Irene Country Club on Saturday.
Together with SA top seed Tucker Vorster and doubles pair Dean O’Brien and Ruan Roelofse gave a good account of themselves.
Wolmarans, ranked 477th, shocked McGee – who is placed 127 places above him in the world – with a threesets to one victory.
Vorster did the same against Irish No 2 Sam Barry.
O’Brien and Roelofse ensured that it was the Irish team that went down to Group 3 with a straight sets win in the doubles against James Cluskey and David O’Hare.
Being up 3-0 on Saturday already deemed the reverse singles rubbers yesterday only a formality as the result for the tie had already been decided.
But that did not stem the tide. SA took the result to 4-0 as Vorster defeated Irish No 1 James McGee 6-1 7-5.
Ruan Roelofse, who replaced Wolmarans for the No 2 seed’s rubber, then defeated Sam Barry in two sets to ensure SA claimed the whitewash.
Captain Earl Grainger insisted ahead of the crucial tie that the encounter would mark the start of a new era for SA tennis with a new breed of players emerging.
He said before yesterday’s game: “Each member of my squad played an important part in the overall victory.”