At Tuesday’s pre-draw press conference, South Africa's playing captain, John-Laffnie de Jager, claimed that the Centrum Rekreacyjno-Sportowe in Zielona Góra “feels like home”. Whether that’s to do with the seats in the stadium coloured in the famous South African green and gold or whether it’s due to the fast hard court, the South Africans may feel like they are currently preparing for a home tie.
“We play on hard courts from juniors [onwards]. You cannot really find any clay courts in South Africa. I guess the Polish team was not really thinking about our preferences here, they chose to favour their strengths choosing hard court which actually happens to be quite good for us too” commented Rik de Voest.
One thing that won’t feel like home, however, is the weather. So far, the South African team has only managed to catch a glimpse of the city of Zielona Góra, and the sub-zero temperatures will not be encouraging the players to head out for a stroll.
De Jager may feel that he has helped his side earn another advantage, because, for the last couple of months, the South African captain has been working with the Polish doubles team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. “The upcoming tie has become something to joke about, but I made it clear to them that country comes first. For this tie, we are enemies”
claimed de Jager.
During Poland’s pre-draw press conference, Radoslaw Szymanik, the Polish captain, assured the media that all of his players are healthy and looking forward to playing on Friday. Soon after, the press saw for themselves the positive atmosphere surrounding the Polish team. One question from journalists caught the imagination of the Polish singles players.
“Lukasz, Jerzy, you’ve been playing doubles with a few different partners recently. Why don’t you team up and play together to make another solid doubles team?” one reporter asked. Janowicz joked that the perfect opportunity to team up would be this Saturday. Even Fyrstenberg and Matkowski laughed at that.
All the players then started to exchange jokes about their recent doubles appearances. They all left the conference room in a good mood, and they will be hoping the mood is just as positive when leave Zielona Góra on Sunday evening.
Szymanik, when asked about who the perfect opponent in the World Group play-offs would be, warned that it is too early to speculate. “I will answer that question on Sunday” he said.