Barbados just couldn’t catch a break yesterday. Literally.
Darian King and Haydn Lewis gave it their all, but in the end not even that from the Davis Cup pair was enough to salvage victory in their Group 1 tie against the Dominican Republic today at the National Tennis Centre.
Heading into today’s final matches with a 2-1 lead, all that was needed to secure a spot in Group 1 was a victory for either player.
But King suffered his first ever Davis Cup singles loss on home soil, when he went down to the 56th ranked Victor Estrella in straight sets 4-6, 4-6, 2-6 in the day’s opening match.
Needing to defeat Jose Hernandez to secure the win for Barbados, Lewis started positively winning the first set before falling away to lose 7-5, 1-6, 2-6,2-6, to give the visitors the 3-2 win.
The loss ended Barbados’ run of four consecutive Davis Cup victories, and was their first defeat since losing to El Salvador 1-4 on February 3, 2015.
On a day when the wind hardly blew in either of the two matches, neither King nor Lewis could come up with a break when they needed it most.
Holding a 1-0 lead in the opening set against Estrella, King failed to capitalize on an opportunity for an early break by wasting a 15-40 advantage in the ensuing game.
Leading 2-1, he wasted another chance after rushing out to a 0-40 lead, only to watch Estrella hold his nerve to deuce the game and hold serve.
The outcome of that opening set and probably the match was then decided in a marathon fifth game that lasted 25 minutes.
In that game, King squandered two game points and saved six break points, as the two players thrilled the appreciative crowd on hand with some high quality tennis.
In the end though, Estrella came up big when it counted, blazing a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner past King, before the Barbadian sent a backhand volley just wide to give his opponent a 3-2 lead.
In a closely contested second set with the score tied at 4-4, Estrella once again showcased his class by breaking King, before serving out to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
And even though Lewis did manage to break Hernandez three times on his way to victory in the opening set, he wouldn’t do it again for the remainder of the two-hour contest.
“Today was a very tough match. Playing against a guy like Victor, very experienced, moves well and there wasn’t a lot of errors from him today,” the 22 year-old King told the media afterwards at a press conference.
“I don’t think I played bad at all, but when you play against these big players you have to capitalize on your chances man. First game he was serving I think I had him 0-40 and didn’t get a chance. He played well but I made a couple of errors and it haunted me at the end.
“I think those points made a huge difference. They could have boosted my confidence, being up a break…but he’s experienced and when you let those guys back in the game they can hurt you,” he added.
Lewis, who battled through a back strain for the majority of his contest, also admitted that the lack of wind played to the Dominican Republic’s advantage.
In his first two matches on Friday and Saturday, Hernandez had struggled to come to grips with the windy conditions. Today though, with only a slight breeze blowing across the court, he was right at home.
“Ideally, it ended up being a perfect day today and that kind of worked more in their favour for them to really play their game,” Lewis noted.
“We were hoping to rely on the wind, both Darian and I, as it had been bothering them the past two days. He was getting very comfortable as the game went on because he was able to hit his shots and stuff because he wasn’t flustered by the wind or anything like that.”
Non-playing captain Kevin Yarde insisted that although he was disappointed by the result, he was extremely proud of how the team had played.
“I’m obviously a bit disappointed by the result, but I’m very proud at how Darian and Haydn played. They gave their best and we couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Barbados will now await the results of the tie between the Dominican Republic and Ecuador to see who their next opponents will be.