For too long in Davis Cup tennis, Barbados has remained a group two-minded nation, and senior national player Haydn Lewis says this needs to change as a matter of urgency.
Barbados was promoted to the Americas Zone Group l three times in Davis Cup history only to be relegated once more having lost 0-4 on home soil last weekend to Ecuador at the National Tennis Center.
The way Lewis sees it, Barbados has only itself to blame for the lack of investment in the players and sports in general. The 32-year-old doubles specialist thanked the Barbados Lawn Tennis Association for trying their best but said going forward the players needed to play a lot of competitive tennis to get better.
He toldBarbados TODAYit was time to stop relying so heavily on Darian King who also needed to start looking outside of Barbados if he wanted a real shot at breaking into the world top 15.
“Once again, we’ve tried our very best, and we’ve proven on more than one occasion that we are a group one team. I think the problem is Barbados is a group two-minded country and this would be our third year in group one, but nothing has been done. If the team gets promoted, then the country must promote them even further because if we were to go to the world group, you can’t treat us like a group two team. If you treat them like a group two team, then it is going to be very difficult for us to stay up.
“I think Barbados has stuck even in group three-mindedness because the tennis association does their best to hold the event and make it a group one event. But at the end of the day, I can honestly say now given that it is the third time we have been in group one and nothing different has really been done for the players, the only ones to blame right now is Barbados.
“But I honestly think that if this country is serious about sports, you can’t have the athletes getting themselves to one level but then you don’t do what’s necessary for them. Barbados must really step up and do something to ensure that we can remain at this level and go forward. Ecuador, all the players here are at the same level, but it’s just that they had more preparation behind them coming into this kind of event. Their country understands a lot better, and they’ve put a lot more emphasis, and you can see it too how the players react when they are on the court and what it means to them.” Lewis said.
He added: “At the end of the day everything has to come out of our pockets, so even if its two months before you pay for the fitness training, little things that could be pieced together different ways, that I think, could make a big deal. I could understand it is hard you just can’t come and give fifty thousand dollars, but there are other ways around it.
“Like I said this is the third time now, Matthew and I are still struggling to really go away, practise and get ready. When I go away to Florida it is because of these private sponsors that I know, and then my coach is up there offering a third of the price because he understands what the event means, and he is passionate about it. So, a lot of people making sacrifices for this but at the end of the day in any sports you can only get so far.”
And it isn’t like the young upcoming players on the Radisson Barbados Davis Cup team Matthew Foster- Estwick, Xavier Lawrence and Kaipo Marshall don’t have the ability. Lewis stated that it could not be left solely up to private entities if those youngsters were to stand a chance on the court.
“It only takes two matches to win at this level, and then you are in the world group, so it is not a huge hurdle to get there. I really hope that before I finish playing or Darian decides to finish that something can really be done for the sport because we are pretty much right there and it’s just to go one step further.
“Without them [private sector] I wouldn’t even be able to compete, they help me to get ready as best as I can but that is still a small piece of the puzzle compared to the grand scale. The level of this tournament and I think the team is serious, Darian is serious. But also, for him, it puts a lot of pressure on him, you can’t always expect him to come out and win two singles especially at this level. And then you just can’t expect that I just come out and play amazing in the doubles. It just doesn’t go like that,” Lewis said.