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Foster-Estwick cleared to play

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Foster-Estwick cleared to play

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Matthew Foster-Estwick is good to go. The wrist injury that kept him out of the Top 8 Invitational hasn’t knocked Foster-Estwick off the Davis Cup team, as the Hampton University player has been cleared to play next week against Colombia.

Non-playing captain Damien Applewhaite made the announcement yesterday after the team was officially ratified heading into Barbados’ opening-round Group I tie at the National Tennis Centre.

“We sought advice from the doctor about his condition and we received a favourable feedback, so we’re confident that he should be okay to play,” said Applewhaite.

“He should be good enough to compete as we also saw him play competitively before he went back to college so we don’t have any worries there.”

It appeared to be a major cause for concern, as the hard-hitting 20-year-old failed to defend his Top 8 Invitational title by pulling out of last month’s unofficial Davis Cup trials due to that injured wrist.

As such, the Barbados Tennis Association refused to officially ratify the squad until further notice, although the five-member squad was leaked to the media three weeks ago.

But Foster-Estwick subsequently allayed any fears, showing no lingering effects from the injury while winning the men’s open doubles title at the Good Times Snacks tournament earlier this month.

He’s just one of three players under the age of 21 on a youthful, new-look Bajan side that now features a pair of wide-eyed rookies in Xavier Lawrence, 19, and 15-year-old Kaipo Marshall.

Veteran Seanon Williams and fellow seasoned player Adam Hornby weren’t included for this tie after the two teenaged talents forced their way onto the team with impressive showings at the Top 8 Invitational.

“It’s good to have some fresh blood in the squad because we’ve been looking at developing new talent for quite a while. It was almost urgent for us to have these players coming through because eventually they’ll have to replace the older ones,” Applewhaite reasoned.

“But we’re in Group 1, which is an even higher level than these players have ever been exposed to, so we can only hope that they play to the best of their ability and see how best they can compete.”

Yet much still won’t be expected of them, as Barbados typically relies heavily on the efforts of world No.177 Darian King and long-time teammate Haydn Lewis.

And that should be no different heading into a critical opening-round tie that has been compacted into two days instead of the traditional three, due to this year’s revamped Davis Cup format.

It means Barbados are even more pressed to get out to a quick start, especially considering that Colombia will throw out the highly-rated Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who are both ranked inside the world’s top 30 in doubles.

“That strategy of playing only Darian and Haydn for the tie is not entirely ruled out but that depends on where Haydn is at physically and we won’t make that determination until the day of the nominations,” explained Applewhaite.

“And I’m happy with our preparations as Darian is in Los Angeles competing in Challengers and Haydn just reached the last round of qualifying at a Futures tournament in Florida while two of the boys are playing collegiately.”

The tie starts on February 2 with both opening singles and concludes the following day with doubles and the two reverse singles. (JM)