The New Zealand Davis Cup team isn't expecting a warm welcome on and off the court when they travel to Seoul, South Korea for their Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie to be held in just over a week.
Team captain Alistair Hunt will be the first to arrive this weekend followed by players Finn Tearney, Artem Sitak, Michael Venus and Rubin Statham at various stages on Sunday or Monday from around the world. The tie will be held March 4-6 and the South Korean team has confirmed their strongest possible players.
They have 19-year-old Hyeon Chung ranked at 66 in the world in singles followed by Duck Hee Lee at 230 along with Seong Chan Hong ranked 492 and Yong-Kyu Lim at 780.
And while the Korean team will be very tough at home, another issue of concern is the weather. The tie is to be played outdoors at the Olympic Tennis Court in Seoul where the temperature at midday Thursday was 3°C and there are potential snow flurries overnight as the weather drops down to -7°C, however some predicted long range highs for next week could see the top temperatures reach around 12°C.
"It's going to be strange to play outdoors in those temperatures. We'll be speaking to the referee to make sure things are okay and also that there's somewhere to practice indoors if the weather does go really bad before the tie starts," Hunt says. "They obviously have a tough team, but I believe if we play to our potential we can win, but it will be important to be at our best."
Hunt had played two Davis Cup ties himself in South Korea, one of which was indoors at the same venue in 2001.
It will be the 10th contest between the two sides with New Zealand leading 7-2. The last time the teams played was in 2005 at North Harbour when South Korea were 3-2 winners, but did have a top 100 player, Hung Taik Lee at the time.
Of special note in the New Zealand team is that Tearney will make his Davis Cup debut and Statham, if he takes the court will equal the most appearances for a Kiwi in Davis Cup history alongside New Zealand tennis legend Onny Parun who played in 25 Davis Cup ties.
The winner of the tie will take on top seeds India in an Asia/Oceania Group I final in July.