OXFORD, Miss. – While his teammates continue to prepare for the season opening tournament next weekend, Ole Miss men’s tennis junior Nik Scholtz is across the ocean with another set of teammates, as his country, South Africa, prepares to face Slovenia in Davis Cup action.
South Africa, looking to remain in Group I, will face Slovenia at Park Tivoli in Ljubljana, Slovenia. If they lose this weekend, South Africa would face a match against Russia in October where a win would be necessary to avoid dropping down to Group II.
This marks the second time for Scholtz, a two-time All-American in singles and doubles, to represent his country in Davis Cup.
“It’s always exciting, whether it’s the first or second time,” said Scholtz, the day before he left to join his teammates in Slovenia. “It’s going to be on clay this time, which makes it a little tougher for our guys, but it will be fun. I am looking forward to seeing all the guys again. I am very grateful to the University of Mississippi for allowing me the opportunity to go and play for my country.”
Scholtz made his Davis Cup debut in September of last year when South Africa matched up against Canada. While he had faced high-level competition playing in the SEC, nothing could compare to his first opponent, Milos Raonic, ranked 15th in the world at the time.
“It was awesome,” Scholtz said. “Raonic is the best player I’ve ever played. It was a good experience. I learned a lot from it. It doesn’t matter who you play, they’re going to be a good player. He is obviously a couple levels higher than what we are used to. It was fun to be able to play with those guys [like Raonic], but obviously experience-wise, they’re a little better, especially on the big points for example, when it’s 5-5, 30-30.”
His first time in the Davis Cup, Scholtz played on the hard courts, but as he noted, this weekend’s matches are being contested on clay. Scholtz admitted it’s not his favorite surface, but he does have some pretty good results on clay from juniors.
“In juniors I played the top tournaments on really nice clay courts at really nice clubs,” he said. “They are a lot better then what you might see at the Futures level. We have a few clay courts [in South Africa], but we don’t host any tournaments on them. With six days to prepare before the matches begin, we will definitely be ready and better adapted to the surface.”
Scholtz finished up the 2013 collegiate season advancing to the NCAA Semifinals in doubles and earning All-America honors in singles and doubles. Following that, he played in several ITF Futures in Turkey with fellow countryman and Rebel alum, Tucker Vorster, and they won twice. Scholtz talked about where his game is at heading into this weekend and beyond.
“I took a long time off after Turkey to rest my arm. So far I haven’t had any problems with my arm, so it was probably a good thing. The first few days back were a little rusty, but I know when it comes time to play, I’ll be ready,” Scholtz said.
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