They’ve already lost Haydn Lewis, now Barbados might not have home court advantage for the Davis Cup either.
The country is in danger of missing the chance to host their second-round Group II tie after learning that the National Tennis Centre will be unavailable for the April 5-7 rubber.
News of Barbados’ latest setback broke after Barbados Tennis Association president Dr Raymond Forde revealed the country’s lone (International Tennis Federation) ITF-sanctioned venue was already booked to stage the annual ITF Junior Tournament.
The Davis Cup team had already suffered a major blow last week when overseas-based pro Haydn Lewis announced his unavailability for next month’s opening round trip to El Salvador.
Forde said they were looking at the possibility of two other venues to host April’s tie.
“But it’s going to be challenging because one of these venues is currently under construction and we know what the ITF expects at this level,” he explained.
“You have to have at least three courts of the same surface, with the stadium court and then one practice court for each team, and at that time of year, hotels should have fairly high occupancy.
“We are doing our very best, but we know it can’t be at the Tennis Centre because the venue has to be closed from the weekend before, so the worst case scenario is that we will have to give away the home court advantage,” he added.
If Barbados lose the tie, they’ll have to defeat either Puerto Rico or Mexico to avoid being demoted to Group III.
But the Bajans at least had the comfort of knowing they will have home court advantage for that all-important three-day tie.
“The ITF Junior Tournament is usually held around Easter and we confirmed with the ITF before October that we would host this tournament, then the Davis Cup draw came out sometime after that and it gave us the second tie as a home tie,” Forde explained.
“So we’re definitely going to be challenged as I can’t guarantee that we will be able to host that tie.”
However, professional tennis coach Sydney Lopez believes otherwise, as he is currently spearheading renovations at the Sunset Crest tennis facilities and believes the three courts and the surrounding property should meet ITF stipulations before April.
“Everything should be ready at Sunset Crest once the association agrees to have the tie here, though I have to admit there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Lopez.
“But we’ve already had a chat with the management of Sunset Crest and they’re very interested in bringing the tie here. And we’ve done the major thing which is to have a spanking new centre court, we have the asphalt put down already and the other two courts are being renovated.
“We’re also going to extend the clubhouse so from there it will be up to the association to create the atmosphere they are looking for,” he added.
Led by home court advantage and pro players Lewis and Darian King, Barbados romped to a historic, opening-round victory over Paraguay at the Tennis Centre last year, before eventually falling to hosts Mexico in the next round.
King is expected to lead the Barbados team which also includes Russell Moseley, Seanon Williams and Anthony Marshall.