King first on court in Davis semis
BARBADOS have drawn their King first up.
The country’s best tennis player will get the ball rolling in its most important Davis Cup tie, as local No.1 Darian King is set to take the court first this morning for the start of the crucial Americas Group II semi-final rubber against El Salvador at the National Tennis Centre.
With a debut Group II finals appearance on the line, all eyes will be on King at 10 a.m. when the world No. 399 begins the rivalry with the opening singles encounter against Rafael Arevalo.
It’s a repeat of last year’s first-round tie in Santa Tecla, where Arevalo opened the rubber by beating King in a gripping four-set affair.
But the home town hero showed no signs of anxiety at yesterday’s draw, even in spite of the previous result and the stakes involved.
“I’m coming in pretty confident,” said the 21-year-old, who comes into the showdown with a tournament win and a couple other quarter-final finishes overseas.
“I’ll be playing against an experienced player in Rafael [Arevalo], a very good player and respected player. But basically tennis is played on the day so hopefully I can play the better tennis tomorrow [this] morning.
“I’m going to need all the [crowd] support I can get against Rafael though, but not just for me but the whole Barbados team. For us to come out victorious that will play a major role,” he added.
A lot has been made of the significance that crowd support and home court conditions will make in the rubber, as El Salvador have won the last two ties in Central America, while Barbados have played unbeaten at home since returning to Group II.
The return of Haydn Lewis, the country’s most experienced Davis Cup player, could also tip the tie in the hosts’ favour after the Bajan No.2 was absent for the teams’ last meeting.
However, Lewis will be up against it in today’s second singles match, having to face El Salvador’s big-serving Marcelo Arevalo, who may prove just as lethal on hard court as he is on clay.
“Just like Darian said it’s all on the day,” reasoned Lewis ahead of the tie.
“We’re both going to go out there and give everything we have in the matches [because] you can’t totally determine whether you win or lose, but what you can control is the amount of effort that you put in. So we both know we will give all we have for Barbados.
“But for both of us the first plan is to execute our game well and then let things flow from there.
It’s not just to stress on a game plan to suit who we’re playing, obviously that’s a part of it, but the first plan is to play our game,” he added.
King and Lewis will take the court again against the same Arevalo brothers in the solitary doubles match tomorrow before returning to play the reverse singles on Sunday.