The 17-year-old tennis star from Bloemfontein, Philip Henning, is more than happy to learn from the senior players during next week’s all-important Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group 1 relegation play-off between Portugal and South Africa.
Henning, who attends Grey College in Bloemfontein received his first call-up to the senior South African men’s team following a stellar year on the junior circuit, which saw him playing in all four of the Grand Slams.
Barring Henning, the team to face Portugal next week is that same one which last year saw off both Estonia and Slovenia and that beat Denmark away from home 4-1 to gain promotion to Euro/Africa Group 1 this year.
With the new format being trialed this year and during this tie specifically, Henning could well play next week as the new format allows the captain to play all five team members over the two days. The previous format only allowed the four nominated players to compete over the three days of competition.
Henning, who is currently representing South Africa at the youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in Argentina, told Courant that he is really looking forward to the new experience.
“It is a great honour for me to be part of the Davis Cup team and to represent my country. It will be a great experience for me and I am really looking forward to it.”
Henning is a most junior player in the squad by quite a longshot, and Portugal has named their strongest possible team for the tie. The youngster added that to him it all about learning from better players in order to improve his game.
“Yes, it will definitely help a lot for me as a player to learn from them and the experiences that they’ve had.
“I’ll try and use their knowledge and wisdom to improve my game.”
The Davis Cup tie between Portugal and South Africa will be played on 19-20 October 2018 in Portugal.
Portugal – Joao Sousa (43rd singles, 44th doubles), Pedro Sousa (144th singles, 386th doubles), Gastao Elias (192th single, 594th doubles), Joao Domingues (207th singles, 488th doubles), Nuno Marques (captain).
South Africa – Lloyd Harris (113th), Nik Scholtz (492nd), Raven Klaasen (18th doubles), Ruan Roelofse (158th doubles), Philip Henning (60th ITF Junior ranking), Marcos Ondruska (captain). – MORGAN PIEK