Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: in Cloud Cuckoo Land
New Faces In South Africa Squad
South Africa have announced a new-look squad for the Euro/Africa Group 2 qualifying tournament at Pretoria's Groenkloof Tennis Stadium from April 9 to 13.
In the absence of Amanda Coetzer, Joannette Kruger, Jessica Steck and Liezel Horn due to WTA Tour commitments, there wilkl be some new faces.
While Nannie de Villiers has been a stalwart in the team for a number of years and Natalie Grandin made her debut for South Africa last year in La Manga, the balance of the team will be playing in this event for the first time.
Alongside De Villiers and Grandin will be Nicole Rencken, Chani Scheepers, Roxanne Clarke and Mandy Septoe.
The team will be captained by Mariaan de Swardt with Lucinda Gibbs as vice-captain.
The 27-year-old De Villiers is known predominantly for doubles but is also a very useful singles player.
She has been successful in a number of rubbers for the South Africa team in both singles and doubles.
Earlier this year, De Villiers showed her ability by capturing the Canberra Women's Classic doubles title in Australia when she teamed up with Irina Selyutina to beat Samantha Reeves and Adriana Serra-Zanetti 6-2 6-3 in the final.
Grandin, 21, made her debut for South Africa at last year's qualifier in La Manga, Spain, and although she struggled on the slow clay courts, the left-hander from Durban will be a different proposition on the hard courts of Pretoria.
The 20-year-old Rencken, also from KwaZulu Natal, formed a useful doubles combination with Grandin.
Scheepers, just 17, is considered to be one of South Africa's most promising talents.
Clarke, who hails from Western Province and is also 17 years old, represented South Africa at the Junior Commonwealth Games, in Edinborough, Under-16 World Youth Cup in Santiago, Chile, and is also a member of the South African Under-18 team to participate in the African Championships in Tunisia at the end of March.
Septoe, also 17, comes from Eastern Province. She is the number two ranked junior in South Africa.
"We have selected the best team available to us," said convener of selectors Annette du Plooy.
"It will be good experience for Natalie, Chani and Nicole as the new members of the team. The inclusion of two promising development players, Roxanne Clarke and Mandy Septoe, marks a new era in South African tennis.
"I wish them great success in this tournament."
There will be 25 countries participating in the event.