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Well, isn’t this awkward? I mean Kevin Yarde was sacked as captain soon after his Davis Cup tennis squad was demoted.
So now what’s going to happen with Damien Applewhaite?
Yeah, I know it’s been like two months since we lost to Ecuador but surely the Barbados Tennis Association (BTA) couldn’t have already forgotten considering just how bad of a defeat it was on home soil.
And this current time frame kind of fits with the previous one, as Yarde also had to wait a couple months before receiving a Thor-like axe to the chest.
Please don’t think for a minute I’m here openly advocating for Applewhaite’s dismissal though, because I rather like the skipper on a personal level.
He’s extremely media-friendly and I played tennis in my schooldays looking up to “Apple” as one of the better players of “my” generation, so I have no reason to want to see him lose his job.
Yet Yarde shouldn’t have lost it either.
You see, no matter what the association decides to do with Applewhaite it will only show just how badly they treated the situation with his predecessor.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. Look at the scenarios for yourself.
If “Apple” is fired, then the decision comes over as the very rash reaction to a losing season that ignores his previous body of work, but if he’s retained, then the executive will look wishy-washy for going against a clear precedent they set just two years ago.
Now, the association could’ve gotten away with saying that Yarde’s axing had nothing to do with the team getting relegated had they just given us a reason for letting him go in the first place.
That’s right: the BTA never really explained why they cut Yarde, other than to say it was time to make a change for the better.
Of course, that time just so happened to coincide with the one year Yarde earned demotion in his 13 seasons at the helm.
I mean, he wasn’t removed in the other 12, so this looks like a precedent to me.
And what makes it worse for Applewhaite now is not only was his squad relegated from Group I but the team didn’t win a single rubber in any of the three ties it played this season.
Granted Darian King didn’t play against the Dominican Republic on the road, but he certainly was available for the other two ties at the National Tennis Centre, where Barbados managed to win just one set in eight total matches.
Yes, you read that right.
At least Yarde can argue that he didn’t have the luxury of playing at home during his relegation season. On top of that the team was still competitive in 2016, having pushed the same Dominican Republic to a decisive fifth rubber that Haydn Lewis narrowly lost in four hard-fought sets.
This isn’t a knock on Applewhaite because you can’t overlook what Barbados did last season to win their first ever Group II tie overseas in Paraguay en route to returning to Group I.
But if we should recognise “Apple” for his achievements, then what about Yarde?
All he did was take the squad out of the depths of Group IV and lead it all the way up to Group I for the first time in the history of Bajan tennis.
It wasn’t one and done for Yarde either, as the team enjoyed two full seasons in Group I.
To be honest though, Applewhaite had to contend with a shortened format, which is a death sentence for teams who rely on only two players as Barbados did with King and Lewis.
Yet that only further strengthens Yarde’s case.
No matter who’s in charge, Barbados only goes as far as Darian and Haydn can take the team because they’re the only ones who can win matches in Group I and II.
There’s really no coincidence that our squad’s rise runs directly parallel with that of Darian’s.
Yarde’s detractors may argue that he didn’t prepare our other guys for this level although I don’t believe anyone could in the short time Davis Cup captains spend with their players.
Maybe I’m wrong here, but I don’t even think that should be in a captain’s job description, considering these players all have their own coaches here at home and at college in some cases.
At the end of the day Yarde was simply given a raw deal and that will be evident regardless of the decision the BTA makes on “Apple”.
I’ll just pretend I don’t feel awkward with it. (JM)