Barbados senior men’s team will have to wait until 2021 for that shot at a Davis Cup Group 1 return.
It was expected that in September of this year team Barbados would host first time rivals Indonesia in a Group 2 tie at the National Tennis Centre. But the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board today made it official that all Davis Cup ties have been postponed until next year.
ITF president David Haggerty in a press release said taking into consideration the Coronavirus pandemic and the risk involved in hosting a major team event of this magnitude, it was best to postpone until next year. No concrete date has been given except to say matches may be played as early as March or September 2021.
“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk. It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Kosmos Tennis in order to deliver a fantastic competition next year,” Haggerty said.
The release further stated that the ITF would work closely with host countries like Barbados in order to ensure a safe environment in which the ties could be played next year.
A win against Indonesia would afford Barbados a playoff spot so they can regain their place in Davis Cup Group l. But with that tie now pushed back, Barbados’ national non-playing captain Damien Applewhaite is not complaining.
That’s because Barbados’ ace player and national number one Darian King is recovering from wrist surgery. It would also give the experienced Haydn Lewis, Xavier Lawrence and the two youngest campaigners on the squad Kaipo Marshall and Stephen Slocombe more time to prepare.
“Darian is coming off of injury. This whole coronavirus has benefited Darian a lot because he was able to take time off the tour and really get his wrist back together without losing many points because the rankings have frozen. Hopefully, he would use this to his benefit and come out on the better side of things,” Applewhaite said.
In February this year, Barbados lost 4-0 to Norway, their first non-Americas zone opposition and that trend will continue as they gear up to face Indonesia in the coming months. Applewhaite described it as exciting to play an opponent outside of their continental zone.
This being the first time that the men wearing ultra-marine, gold and black will come up against the Southeast Asian nation, Applewhaite made it clear they would be ready and seeking to exploit home court advantage.
“We always go into each tie expecting a solid few days of competition. The Indonesians have a couple of world ranked players, albeit not as high as Darian’s ranking right now (156). I know one player has a good doubles CV and doubles is a very important matchup in the grand scheme of things. So we are not going to take them lightly and we are going to approach it with the same professionalism as we did with all of our previous ties,” he said.
As it stands the national selectors currently have options with regards to who will most likely make the team.
Seanon Williams previously lost his place on the national Davis Cup team but redeemed himself last year December with an impressive straight sets 6-4, 6-2 victory against Xavier Lawrence during the Barbados Tennis Association’s Top 8 men’s final. Applewhaite explained that Williams was not part of the training squad right now but was also not out of the equation either.