Bajans gearing for 5-setters
Barbados tennis is up for its latest challenge.
All five sets of it.
The nucleus of the squad might not be accustomed to playing best-of-five matches now, but non-playing captain Kevin Yarde says that will have changed by next month when his Davis Cup squad takes the court for its historic Group II tie against Paraguay.
Yarde expressed the sentiment in a telephone interview with WEEKENDSPORT while disclosing the team’s preparations ahead of the February 10 to 12 tie in Barbados.
“The guys have been really focusing on [playing five-set matches] and both Haydn [Lewis] and Darian [King] have assured me they have been playing four and five-set practice matches overseas,” Yarde revealed.
“The rest of the guys, Anthony [Marshall] and Seanon [Williams], they have also been working on their fitness and playing four and five-set practice matches so they can maintain their concentration levels for longer periods of time.”
“So we should be ready to make that adjustment when the time comes,” he added.
The four-member squad that gained promotion from Group III last June was returned unchanged for this tie, with local No. 1 Seanon Williams and British-based Anthony Marshall picked again to support ATP-ranked pros Darian King and Haydn Lewis.
In spite of their professional status though, neither Lewis nor King are experienced at going through the wear and tear of playing five-set tennis.
And that move up from best-of-three matches serves to dictate team strategy, as King and Lewis are usually expected to bear the brunt of the matches as the squad’s best players but might be rested due to fatigue.
“I’m not sure as yet what our plan will be and the strategy heading into the tie because I haven’t seen the names of the Paraguay squad up to now,” reasoned Yarde.
“But it really depends on what happens on the first two days. Say we’re up 3-0 after the first two days, then Anthony and Seanon will more than likely play the reverse singles or in the case of injury, they might also be pressed into action as well.
“There might be a situation where the tie is extremely close, though, so we have to look at it based on the situation we find ourselves in,” Yarde explained.
But if need be, Yarde isn’t worried with having to put either Marshall or Williams on the court, figuring both are more than capable of holding their own at this level.
“Anthony has been big in getting Barbados to Group III and he was a great help in Panama on the red clay, taking pressure off Haydn when Darian was overseas playing,” said Yarde.
“And Seanon is always there working hard, trying to do his best. He is very coachable and always willing to listen and take in things.”