Barbados Davis Cup team have done their homework in preparation for next week’s World Group II, Round One, Davis Cup tie against the visiting Indonesia team, to be played at the National Tennis Centre in Wildey.
Non-playing captain Damien Applewhaite said that Team Barbados made up of seasoned players Darian King and Haydn Lewis along with Matthew Foster-Estwick, Kaipo Marshall and Stephen Slocomb Jr were ready to take on Indonesia for the first time in Davis Cup history.
“All of the players up until this week have been off-island doing what they had to do at the various academies and on tour. To be competitive at this level that is where I want them to be, not really in Barbados but out there competing on the world stage. So, I am happy with the preparation leading up to this tie,” Applewhaite explained.
He added: “We may not have played against them as a country but some of our players would have competed against them individually. Like Darian King would have played against one of their players a few years ago. So, we rely on those sorts of experiences to prepare ourselves for the upcoming tie.”
The tie is expected to serve off Friday, September 17th and continues the following day. A lot will rest on the shoulders of King who has had a career-high Association of Tennis Professionals singles ranking of 106, along with doubles specialist and veteran Lewis.
If victorious against Indonesia then Barbados will enter a playoff round early next year against another team with the hope of getting back into Group l. That is providing that the International Tennis Federation does not change the format after this tie.
King arrived home on Sunday, September 5, Lewis came in on Tuesday, September 7 and is still in quarantine. The junior player on the team Stephen Slocomb Jr comes in tomorrow, Friday, September 10, while the other two team members Kaipo Marshall and Matthew Foster-Estwick come in on Saturday, September 11.
Unfortunately, Xavier Lawrence will not feature in this tie having failed to earn a final berth on the team. However, Applewhaite noted that Lawrence is an integral part of the team.
According to Applewhaite, Marshall, Slocombe and company have been overseas competing in the Universal Tennis Rating tournaments in Florida and other tournaments.
Everyone on the Barbados team has had a taste of Davis Cup competition and therefore is expected to put on a good showing on home soil despite no spectators being allowed.
Applewhaite stated that he is impressed so far with the junior players on the team and added that they continue to develop well.
“Darian and Haydn are experienced players and there is this gap between them and the rest of the players and I am happy to say that gap is closing now. For example, Kaipo has made tremendous efforts in his development over the last two years. At the end of 2020 in the top eight, he held match point against Haydn in the final. So, that shows you how close these guys are getting to what you call the older guard of the team,” Applewhaite said.
The national captain also believes that Barbados has the upper hand in this tie considering they are competing at home in familiar conditions. “I think we have an advantage because of the unique conditions we have at the tennis centre. It is quite windy which is challenging for our team as well but we are a bit more accustomed to it compared to a team that is playing in it for the first time. So, I think that gives us a little advantage for sure,” he said.