Davis Cup’s tough 5-setters
Hosting a Davis Cup Group II tie isn’t the only unknown to local tennis. Try playing five-set matches.
Just one month before Barbados stages their first ever tie at this level, the hosts will be facing a similarly daunting task of playing three best of five against Paraguay in their three-day, opening round fixture starting February 10.
The step-up from three-set tennis could prove a challenge for the country’s players, considering most of them – including the foreign-based ATP-ranked pros – have never even contested a five-set match.
And it might present more problems past those of the players’ fitness and durability, as team selection could prove critical if Barbados’ top two – Haydn Lewis and Darian King – need to be rested for the tie’s doubles match.
“We’re used to Haydn and Darian playing the one and two singles, doubles, then the reverse singles, and that’s ideal for us because they’re our best players, but what happens in the event they’re tired and have to be rested?” said Davis Cup hopeful Russell Moseley.
“They’re not accustomed playing five sets and they might not be able to go all three days so our players have to be ready.”
The four-man squad for the historic Group II tie has yet to be named, though president of the Barbados Tennis Association, Dr Raymond Forde, disclosed his executive is scheduled to meet with the selection committee sometime later this week.
As the country’s current ATP-ranked pros, King and Lewis should be shoo-ins for the team, having served as the nucleus of a squad that moved from Group IV status in 2010 to gain promotion to this level last June.
The world-rated duo also just missed out on the sport’s first ever Pan American silverware when they lost both their semi-final and bronze medal games in two separate three-set heartbreakers.
Local No.1 and reigning four-time national champ Seanon Williams is also expected to be an automatic selection after appearing in at least five straight major finals last season.
In addition, the top-ranked teen was a member of the last Davis Cup team that defeated Bolivia back in June to gain promotion to Group II.
It’s the fourth spot that could pose a challenge for the selection committee as the availability of Britain-based pro Anthony Marshall is uncertain.
It would leave local No.2 Russell Moseley as the presumptive favourite to fill out the squad following a season that saw the dreadlocked veteran contest six successive major finals.
No. 3 Duncan Evanson, Matthew Weir and Ryan Moseley are still expected to be in the running for selection as the three players have been participating in an eight-man Davis Cup training squad from November.
The team’s non-playing captain has yet to be named as well, though Kevin Yarde is widely expected to be returned in the post after leading the Davis Cup squad in a very successful four-year stint.