Bajans still fancy chances
Even without their No.2, Barbados still think highly of their chances in El Salvador.
Seasoned Davis Cup captain Kevin Yarde said the squad had a fighting chance against the higher rated Central American hosts although they would be missing tennis pro Haydn Lewis for next month’s Group II tie.
“I honestly think we have a pretty good chance of beating El Salvador and the guys seem ready for the challenge, because unlike in Mexico last year, high altitude won’t be playing a factor,” said Yarde.
“I know we’ll be playing on clay and it’s not exactly our favourite surface, but Anthony [Marshall] has grown up on clay and Darian [King] has become a lot more proficient on clay after playing so many tournaments on that surface.
“And we have the comfort in knowing that Darian has recently beaten their No.1, and that guy appears to be more comfortable on the faster surfaces, so this tie might actually hinge on the doubles,” Yarde added.
Barbados suffered a major blow earlier this month with the news of Lewis’ unavailability for the February 1 to 3 tie.
Worse, Barbados have managed just a single series win in four previous tries against their hosts, who defeated the Bajans as recently as four years ago in El Salvador.
But that was just the second Davis Cup appearance for a then 16-year-old King, who still managed to win his lone singles encounter against Rodrigo Rappaccioli.
And the Miami-based King has since established himself as a world-beater, improving to a career best ranking of 482 last month after winning two singles titles and eight doubles crowns in 2012.
“I’m confident that Darian will always give us a chance to win ties, and right now, everyone is really ready for the challenge of taking on El Salvador although it is always tough playing away from home,” said Yarde.
“And the guys are looking nice and sharp right now and everyone is getting in shape while training four to five mornings a week.
“Haydn has also joined us as well and he’s very keen to assist us and get back playing.
“Hopefully, he’ll be ready for round two in April, but in the meantime, I still have to decide who will be playing No. 2 singles, as well as the doubles pairing that we will be going with,” Yarde said.