Despite being relegated from the Euro/Africa Group II after a 2-0 loss to Malta in the Billie Jean King Cup, South African captain Roxanne Clarke is taking away many positives from the team's performance in the tournament.
The young South African team encountered challenging competition during the tournament, suffering defeat in four out of their five ties against Estonia, Georgia, Kosovo, and Lithuania. However, the team achieved a victory against Ireland in pool B, resulting in a fifth-place finish in their pool and leading to a relegation playoff against Malta.
Despite their best efforts, Marilouise van Zyl lost the initial singles match against Elaine Genovese 6-3, 6-1, and Suzanie Pretorius succumbed to Francesca Curmi 6-2, 6-3, resulting in a final score of 2-0 in favour of Malta on Saturday.
Despite the outcome, Clarke highlighted the growth and learning opportunities the team experienced throughout the tournament.
"Of course, the whole team is disappointed that we were relegated, but this is a young team, and I think the best thing about this whole week is that everyone has learned so much, and that was our goal, which was all about growth," Clarke commented.
"I'm very proud of the team, and hopefully, next year, we can fight really hard to be promoted again."
Clarke also emphasised the lessons that the players can take back home with them, stating that the tournament provided valuable experience and confidence for the team.
"While there were certainly disappointments, there's a lot of growth for South African female tennis players, and we continue to work towards our goal of getting a South African tennis player in the top 100," Clarke concluded.
South Africa, who were promoted to the much tougher Group II this year, will have a mountain to climb again but the young team will take away valuable lessons and experiences from their time and matches played on the clay courts of the Jamor Sports Complex.