Israel will find out on Wednesday the route it will face in its quest to return to the Davis Cup World Group next year after falling to a 3-2 defeat to Belgium in the playoffs on Sunday.
The blue-and-white will be seeded in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I draw despite dropping two places to No. 20 in the latest Davis Cup nations ranking on Monday. As a seed, Israel is set to receive a bye in the first round and will enter the fray in the second round, which will be played in April.
Among Israel’s potential opponents Croatia, Austria and Ukraine – none of which it would rather face – as well as easier rivals such as Portugal.
Barring injuries, Israel will be playing with the same squad it has used since Amir Weintraub became the team’s second singles player at the start of 2011.
Sela may have lost both his singles matches in each of Israel’s last three ties, but he seems set to remain the national team’s highest ranked player for the foreseeable future, while Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, who have won 14 of 16 Davis Cup encounters since 2005, will continue to play in the doubles.
Israel captain Eyal Ran took teenagers Bar Botzer (638) and Or Ram-Harel (840) to Antwerp to gain much-needed experience, but they remain far from ready to represent the national team in the Davis Cup.
Despite the fact that Weintraub was suffering from a sports hernia throughout the tie versus Belgium, Ran never seriously considered playing one of his youngsters.
Weintraub nevertheless managed to defeat Ruben Bemelmans in five sets in his opening rubber on Thursday before losing to Steve Darcis in the decisive match on Sunday.
Czech Republic will be the top seed in the 2014 World Group draw, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Monday.
Winners last year, the Czechs have again reached the final and will play Serbia in Belgrade next month.
Serbia’s run to the final earns it the second seeding, followed by Spain and Argentina.
France, United States, Canada and Kazakhstan make up the eight seeded nations who will be kept apart in round one.
The other eight teams in next year’s World Group are Australia, Belgium, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands and Switzerland.Reuters contributed to this report.
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