Up to two
THE HOPES OF A COUNTRY now rest squarely on the shoulders of two men.
Darian King and Haydn Lewis probably wouldn’t have it any other way.
Barbados’ biggest ever Davis Cup tie will be met with their two big-time players as the hosts predictably served up both overseas-based pros for all this weekend’s matches against former powerhouses Chile at the National Tennis Centre.
The selection came as no surprise, with the hosts deciding to go with the elite talents of their two best players to face a team with the calibre of one that once contended in the World Group.
Barbados’ rather expected decision was revealed during yesterday’s draw for the Americas Zone Group 2 tie. King and Lewis are slated to appear in the opening singles, reverse singles starting today.
It’s actually a routine strategy for the Bajans as both pros not only represent the country’s best singles players, but also the best doubles combo as well.
Both enter the rubber with some concerns though, as King is currently battling a slight back niggle while Lewis may have to deal with a bit of rust at the start of the proceedings.
They won’t be playing any pushovers either considering the entire four-man Chilean contingent – despite being relatively young – is ranked inside the top 400, led by world no. 289 Gonzalo Lama.
He and Christian Garin, rated 380 in the world, have been drawn for the singles assignments today and may get what might prove to be much-needed rest ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles as Jorge Aguilar and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo are slated to play doubles tomorrow.
“We obviously know they have top 300s so we know it’s going to be a tough tie but as I said we’re going to embrace the challenge and hopefully we’ll come out on top,” reasoned local non-playing captain Kevin Yarde.
The hosts do expect to have a boisterous home crowd to their advantage, along with the familiarity of the extremely windy conditions of the National Tennis Centre.
It also helps that Barbados have enjoyed recent successes against Puerto Rico and Paraguay at home with Lewis and King at the helm.
“Once the wind gets very high it’s sometimes hard to time the ball well so it’s going to be difficult on both sides of the net [but] it’s only an advantage for us because we’re accustomed to it,” Yarde said.
“Any smart tennis player will utilise the conditions where they can.”
Lewis has drawn Lama in the opening singles match today before King takes the court against Garin.
The two then switch opponents and times for Sunday’s reverse singles although both sides are allowed to change line-ups up to one hour ahead of each day’s play.