Dutch team adapts to circumstances

It is day number five for Thiemo and the Dutch Davis Cup team in South Africa. Training, resting, preparing and getting used to the altitude and cold weather are the key words.

No encounters
The 22-year old gives a little insight of the days in Johannesburg and Potchefstroom with the Dutch squad. So far no encounters with the continent’s Big Five. “We have not seen a lot the past day. We are at the club to practice most of the time and we are resting and relaxing in the hotel”, shares Thiemo his South African experiences. “We have been to the Apartheids museum on Sunday, but our focus is just tennis.”

Getting better
The squad stays in Potchefstroom since Monday. “We stayed to first two days in Johannesburg, because we heard there is not much to do in Potchestroom”, according to the player who already has seven Davis Cup ties (four wins, three defeats) on his list. “Things are going very good during the training. It is a matter of getting used to the high altitude, but it goes much better then the moment when we arrived in South Africa.”

Rik de Voest
The country brings some good memories for Thiemo. He met South African Rik de Voest a couple of years ago. “I know Rik from my former roommate (Fred Hemmer jr., red.). He stayed some days at our place because he wanted an early preparation for the Rotterdam tournament”, sounds the explanation of his connection with his possible opponent.

De Voest is known as a true Davis Cup player in his home country. Thiemo confirms this presumption. “Rik is a dangerous player, especially in his home country when playing on high altitude. He knows how to deal with the circumstances. He is also a good doubles player. We already have met for a moment here in Potchefstroom.”

Fond memories
The South African has some fond memories of the Dutch hospitality. “I played some doubles with Fred in the past and asked him if I could stay at his place for a couple days, that is how met Thiemo”, digs the world number 129 in his memory. “I practiced with the guys at the national training centre before I went to Rotterdam to play qualifiers. I made it to the main draw as a lucky loser and even defeated Martin Verkerk.”

Dangerous player
De Voest has followed Thiemo’s results since then. “He has become a strong player and is dangerous, a big game. I think he can be really dangerous with his service, again because we play on high altitude”, told the 31 year-old a while ago in Miami. The tie against the Netherlands gives an extra motivation for De Voest since he also owns a Dutch citizenship.

Dutch habits
“My grandfather lived in Holland and so my father speaks Dutch and has a Dutch passport and so I was born in Italy, but also obtained a Dutch passport through my father, which I currently still have”, shares De Voest this notable fact. “We still eat a lot of Dutch traditional foods and treats, as my father still enjoys them and I had them as a child growing up.”

Thiemo will give a reaction after captain Jan Siemerink has announced his definite selection against South Africa on Thursday.

Photos: Franklin Stoker/Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images