(September 19, 2021) FOREST HILLS, WEST SIDE TENNIS CLUB, Queens, New York – After the South Africa completed their 4-0 defeat of Venezuela to reach the World Group I Davis Cup Play-Offs for 2022, South Africa’s new Captain and former pro Christo Van Rensburg had a news conference.
Van Rensburg, now 58, played on the pro tour beginning in 1983. He reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 19 in the world in 1988. He won two singles titles on the men’s tour and 20 doubles titles. He beat Jimmy Connors in the final of the Orlando event in 1987. He retired from the pro tour in 1995.
He talked about what Davis Cup means to him and came close to tears: “For me it is very precious because of the South Africa’s system of Apartheid, we could never play the Olympics, we could never play Davis Cup. And then when Apartheid was gone, and unity was formed, I got to play one Davis Cup tie, but it ended up being Indonesia in the lowest group you could get. So that was very special for me to play the first point, win the first point, win the first game, win the first set, and the match after the isolation.
“And you know my daughter when I used to play was not born obviously, until when I retired. And she was here (at the Davis Cup tie) the whole week. I feel like her being with me and being with the team, it was really special for me to see that she can see what my life was about. Mixing with the younger guys. So I felt as a family and my daughter, who is 23…. It was just so special for me to share that with her. She’s going to leave now and it will be sad. She works and lives in another city. ”
A representative from the Venezuelan Tennis Federation then presented van Rensburg with a token of appreciation during the post-tie news conference.
“This is going to be very special,” the captain said as his voice started to crack and his eyes began to well up with tears. “I said to Lloyd (Harris), him winning 6-0, 6-0 in our first match is something you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. You get to be with the best.”
“To have a start like that… they can’t take that away from you… I’ll always remember this first match. I did it with you (Harris). It was enjoyable, it was fun. It’s amazing. I never knew him before I came here. But that was special for me to have a match like that in the beginning.”
“We are very fortunate to have someone like Lloyd on our team. He’s a great team player. He’s really good with the guys. That’s priceless.”
Earlier in the day during in their news conference after their doubles win to clinch the tie, Lloyd Harris and Raven Klassen were also asked about what Davis Cup means to them.
Klaasen: “I mean, for the most part during the season, you’re playing individual sports, so the environment and the history of this obvious competition is quite unique. And I spent time as a youngster watching our older guys play Davis Cup and they kind of set the bar for us. And then we were trying to kind of leave our own mark on Davis Cup for South Africa, because every time you play a tournament, you do represent South Africa, but this is nice where you actually put the green and gold on and to have a team around you is a fun aspect of tennis.”
Harris: “Yeah. I mean the same, I mean, it’s a great week where you get to spend some time with your fellow South Africans, get to train and compete together, have them on the side, supporting each other. And obviously, you have all of a sudden the whole of South Africa watching from back home. So it’s very special occasion. It’s, it’s unique from the rest of the tour, like Raven said.”