As Team Barbados grieve for one of their own, they intend to remain focused when they face Uruguay in a do-or-die situation this weekend in a Davis Cup Group l battle.
Darian King, Haydn Lewis, Russell Moseley and Seanon Williams not only have to say goodbye tomorrow to Kristen Lopez, a former top female lawn tennis player who recently lost her long battle with cancer, but also have to regroup and face Uruguay the next day at the National Tennis Centre in order to keep their hopes alive of staying in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group 1 for 2016.
During a media conference held this morning at the Barbados Olympic Association, speaking on behalf of the team King said it was an emotional time for them but they would try to stay focused and give of their best.
“It is very emotional for all of us on the team. Kristen has been one of my good friends since we were growing up like around eight [years old] when I really started playing tennis. It was hard to hear when I was overseas that she had just passed and I send my condolences to the Lopez family.
“Despite the ups and downs or differences, at the end we are still family and great friends. It is going to be a hard weekend emotionally for us but I think in Kristen eyes she will want us to go on and push for our goals,” said Barbados’ number one player, who will need to put down another big performance on home soil.
King explained that playing in the Davis Cup competition had become such a regular occurrence for him that he felt no pressure. “I am very confident. In this tie I am not trying to underestimate anyone. Uruguay is a team that has been in Group one for a while and this is our first time and it boils down to pressure although their big players aren’t coming. I think we have an edge over them with all four of our players and we have been training hard,” the 23-year-old said.
Barbados narrowly lost at home 3-2 to Ecuador last month and this upcoming match will be their seventh consecutive home tie since the team gained promotion to Group II in 2012.
Uruguay are without the services of their number one player Pablo Cuevas ranked number 37 in the world and his brother Martin Cuevas. That reality should make life a bit easier for the local lads and captain Kevin Yarde noted that they did not feel any added pressure to perform especially with those two out.
“We intend to do and not die so we are going to go out there put our best foot forward and look to come out victorious on Friday and close it out Saturday. We played a lot of points, especially for Haydn [Lewis], to put him under pressure and see how his back is holding up. All the guys are playing well and that was the only area that I think we really needed to work on,” Yarde said.
In fact Barbados’ number two Lewis who had to sit out the last tie against Ecuador due to back injuries assured everyone present that he was ready for the task ahead.
“I am ready I think the last tie we just rushed into things a bit too quickly. But I have been doing all the work for the past month that I needed to do and I feel ready and looking forward for this weekend. I have been doing a lot of work with my physiotherapist and trainer to get ready for this tie and also knowing what happened last tie as well, so we had that in mind. I went and got a lot of x-rays and an MRI done to know exactly what was going on . . . and I feel ready. Practice has been going good and I haven’t shown any sign of pain during practice. So it is just now for it to hold out now a hundred percent,” he said.
This is the first time in Davis Cup history the two sides will face each other and the visitors are just as confident and do not feel any pressure playing without their top guns.
“This is the nice part of the story. We do not have pressure in this tie when you have two players out like Pablo and Martin in this group they make a big difference. [Pablo] is a player who is in the top thirty in the world and have been doing well for us and it is a big miss. But this gives the young kids a chance and I have a player sixteen years old on the team for the first time. So I think the pressure this time is on the other side,” team captain Enrique Perez-Cassarino said confidently about his team that includes Rogrigo Arus, Santiago Maresca and 16-year-old Nicolas Xiviller.
The draws for the match-ups will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the BOA.