New Australian citizen Smeets rushed into Davis Cup squad

September 12th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Sept 12 (IANS) In a swift turn of events, Robert Smeets was sworn in as an Australian citizen Thursday and he now joins the Australian Davis Cup squad leaving Saturday to play the Davis Cup World Group qualifier against Chile in Santiago next week. Smeets, 22, was left out of the initial squad of six for Chile, headed by his friend and occasional doubles partner Chris Guccione, despite - in Lleyton Hewitt’s absence - being ranked third among available players behind Guccione and veteran Joe Sirianni.

Guccione, Peter Luczak and uncapped pair Carsten Ball and Sam Groth were this week named in the preliminary quartet for the difficult claycourt fixture, but practice form will determine the team’s final composition.

Smeets, a Dutch citizen who moved to Australia at the age of 13, has been an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship-holder and regular wildcard recipient, despite failing to meet the immigration department’s citizenship criteria, reports The Australian.

The problem has been that his job as a professional tennis player has not permitted him to spend the requisite time here, a difficulty he shares with fellow European-born Australian residents Jarmila Gajdosova and Anastasia Rodionova.

The 147-ranked Queensland left-hander has not won a tour-level singles match this year — and one of only eight in his career — but was a doubles finalist with Guccione in Adelaide in January, and claimed a singles Challenger title in Dublin.

Former Australian Open junior champions Brydan Klein and Bernard Tomic were also in contention.

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