Show of faith
LOCAL TENNIS is going for its winners again.
The Davis Cup squad that kept Barbados in Group II last year is being served up for the country’s biggest tie as the Barbados Tennis Association (BTA) predictably named an unchanged line-up for this month’s opening round fixture against Chile.
Non-playing captain Kevin Yarde disclosed that world no.483 Darian King, fellow overseas-based pro Haydn Lewis along with top local players Russell Moseley and Seanon Williams have all been chosen to play in the Americas Group tie starting from January 31.
The announcement comes as no surprise as the English-based Anthony Marshall probably wasn’t considered for selection while Davis Cup hopefuls Richard Hornby and Matthew Hutchinson didn’t make the most of their opportunities in recent straight-set losses to Williams and Moseley respectively.
It serves as a show of faith for a team that maintained Barbados’ Group II status just a year ago via a winner-takes-all 3-1 victory over a visiting Puerto Rico side which the country hadn’t beaten in two previous attempts.
But Chile will present a totally different challenge, bringing the pedigree of a nation that once played in the World Group and barely missed out on winning it all in 1976.
“It isn’t going to be easy,” said Yarde of facing Chile for the first time.
“But I think we have a good chance against everyone in this group when we’re at home because once we’re playing on our favoured hard court it’s also going to be tough to face us.
“Things would be different if we were playing at them on their clay courts as that is what they prefer so I expect to give them a run for their money,” he added.
It also helps Barbados’ cause that Chile has recently experienced hard times after being relegated to Group II last season when they lost the first four matches of a crucial demotion tie against Dominican Republic.
However, the hosts aren’t without concerns of their own as King is just coming off a troubling back injury while there have been some apprehensions within certain circles over the match-readiness of Lewis. And those worries were only further heightened after the hard-hitting lefty didn’t appear in the singles draws of the just-concluded Courtesy Garage Top 8 and the CIBC First Caribbean Championships.
This isn’t the first time such concerns have popped up, with Lewis’ commitment coming into question a year ago when he took a seven-month break from the game.
The selectors, though, still stuck with him then, just as they continue to do now.
“I always have a tremendous amount of confidence in Haydn and I know he’ll be ready for Chile,” Yarde said.
“He’s supposed to be training in Florida just shortly and looking to get in some practice matches while hoping to get in a tournament or two before returning home.
The opening singles matches are scheduled for January 31 ahead of the doubles match on the following day. The teams then return on February 2 for the reverse singles.
“It’s going to be a difficult task to get out many supporters on that opening day because we have to play at 10 a.m. when most people are either working or at school but hopefully things will pick up over the weekend,” said Yarde.