By Morissa Lindsay
Darian King has turned into the saviour for Barbados as he once again came to the rescue and won his singles match in straight sets against Osgar O’Hoisin of Ireland to draw level in the first round World Group ll Davis Cup tie at 1-1, at the National Tennis Centre, Wildey, St. Michael.
After Matthew Foster-Estwick lost 6-2, 6-1 against Ireland’s number one ranked player Simon Carr on the opening day of competition, it was left up to King – winning 7-6, 6-3 – not to let the Irish go up two straight in the tie heading into the second and final day of competition tomorrow.
During the post-match interview, King said that he felt amazing to register the win over O’Hoisin knowing that this has been six months since he played tennis. “First match in six months playing on home soil against a good team Ireland. We see how Osgar played today. We can tell he is on tour playing a lot of matches. For me I am just happy and excited to be playing for my country again but also being back on court.”
King added: “We needed the win, we were down 1-0 and I am glad that I was able to deliver.”
With the Barbados and Ireland flags being flown at half-staff as a sign of respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, the first match got underway at 1:30 p.m. because of persistent rain. However, when the hardcourt dried, it was an intense battle by the top players from both countries.
King won the toss and opted to receive as the 811-ranked O’Hoisin took the lead 1-0 but it did not take that much long for the national ace to equalize. Knowing that Barbados’ hopes in the singles rested on his shoulders, King, currently ranked 868 needed to take care of business against O’Hoisin who went ahead 2-1.
The rallies between the two players were entertaining to watch, with some fantastic shot selections. King, with those great forehand and backhand swings, was patient in his approach to O’Hoisin, forcing the Irish to make the mistakes. That resulted in King equalizing 2-2 and in search of the break point but that never materialized because O’Hoisin extended the lead 3-2 in his favour.
That was okay in the eyes of King as he answered the challenge of responding each time from behind 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6 but O’Hoisin showed great resistance not to allow the Bajan ace to take the lead. King at times struggled to get his returns over the net but that did not really matter in the end because he got the job done in the first set 7-6, winning the tiebreak 9-7.
The second set was no different as King upped his game as well as O’Hoisin accounting for the first break point of the match accompanied with a 2-1 lead. But King with great composure came from behind and equalized 2-2 in which he broke O’Hoisin and had his first hold of the match at 3-2 which was the position he needed to be in with victory in sight.
King continuously held the upper hand as he found a rhythm and played tennis like the world class player he is, not discrediting the tremendous play of O’Hoisin who had his moments.
However, as King who won the second set 6-3 said during Wednesday’s press conference before the tie, anyone who wants to beat him on home soil has to come good and his excellent home record remained tops after two hours of competitive tennis.
In the other encounter, Ireland number one player Simon Carr with a world ranking of 767 won the toss and asked Foster-Estwick who went into the match as the underdog to serve. It was a positive start from the Barbadian with his strong attacking style of play.
Even though Foster- Estwick won the first point in what was an aggressive start, he needed to slow it down a bit especially with those long serves that went out of bounds.
Carr capitalized on those errors and managed to tie the game 1-1 and took a 3-1 advantage in the opening set. Foster- Estwick needed to reduce his power going after those forehand shots and particularly the backhand returns in the front court.
Capturing the fifth point was a must for Foster-Estwick and after being down 30-0 he dug deep to win 40-30 finishing the point off in style with a lovely volley to trail 2-3 and keep his hopes alive in the set.
However, Foster- Estwick while executing brilliantly at crucial moments of the match was also growing in frustration at his unforced errors. There were times he double faulted but once he got the serves right they were beautiful to watch especially those aces.
It is evident that Foster- Estwick’s game has improved thanks to competition played on the International Tennis Federation Futures circuit. Even though he struggled to get his serves over the nets with sweat dripping from his palms which seemed part of the reason he was unable to grip his racquet properly, technically his game looked good.
Carr with his tremendous serves that had lots of power and speed behind them, advanced and went on to take the opening set 6-2 and put the Barbadian number two seed under a bit of pressure.
In the second set Foster- Estwick serving from the end closest to the National Aquatic Centre did similar to what he did in the first stanza and got off to a good 1-0 start.
Knowing that a win in the second period was a must, Foster- Estwick needed to bring his best and each point won was met with a fist pump and rightfully so given Carr on paper is Ireland’s best player and far from a walkover.
Carr did similarly to what he did in the first set and came from behind in the second to once again tie and then went on to lead 4-1 over Foster- Estwick.
At that stage of the game, whether Foster-Estwick could come from behind remained to be seen. There were the constant calls for Foster-Estwick to stay locked in but unfortunately he was unable to hold on and lost the second set 6-1.
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. the doubles will take place as King and Haydn Lewis will team up against Conor Gannon and Osgar O’Hoisin followed by the reverse singles. [email protected]