By Morissa Lindsay
Barbados needs to up its game if it is to remain in the Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group ll. National captain Damien Applewhaite has described the island’s latest 3-2 defeat to Ireland as a wake-up call.
The home side was left feeling disappointed after losing to Ireland this past weekend in the first round World Group ll Davis Cup tie played at the National Tennis Centre in Wildey. Now, the Bajans are faced with a must-win situation against Pacific Oceania.
Yesterday, the Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group l and ll playoff draws were decided by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Barbados seeded at number five will take on Pacific Oceania who were promoted to World Group ll.
“We did not get the result we wanted. We knew that the tie would have been keenly contested, but we lost the crucial doubles, so I think that they really gave us a wake-up call. That was our first ever group two loss since we entered the group two phase. So, it really shows us that the other teams are getting better and we should continue to up our game and not to become complacent,” Applewhaite said.
While the dates of February 3-4 and 4-5, 2023, have been decided by the ITF for the playoff draws to be played, it has not yet been confirmed exactly what dates Barbados will play but they do have the option to either host Pacific Oceania or travel and compete. More than likely the Barbados Tennis Association will go with the opportunity to play at home.
Barbados’ recent performance against Ireland is not for a lack of trying but the time has come to face reality that national top ace Darian King cannot continuously do it by himself. Therefore, the younger members of the team Xavier Lawrence, Kaipo Marshall and Matthew Foster-Estwick need to start getting the right levels of exposure to improve their tennis and become more competitive.
Pacific Oceania is made up of 14 countries – Australia, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
On paper with those lists of countries it may appear that Pacific Oceania will be a force to reckon with but ability-wise, they are on par with each other because Oceania’s highest ranked player Colin Sinclair has a world singles ranking of 619 and 585 in doubles.
Whereas the other players, Clement Mainguy, Matthew Stubbings, Gillian Osmont and Brett Baudinet, have yet to acquire singles points which is the case with Barbados because Lawrence, Marshall and Foster-Estwick do not have singles rankings.
King has shown time and time again his quality and capabilities and he did so brilliantly against Ireland even after not competing for a couple months. He won his first single match against Ireland number two Osgar O’Hoisin to even the tie at 1-1 for Barbados after Foster-Estwick lost his singles to their number one seed Simon Carr.
On the second and final day of the tie, King and longstanding doubles partner Haydn Lewis needed to win and they did brilliantly to come from 4-1 down in the first set to equalize 6-6 and forced the match into a tiebreak situation.
Both countries knew the importance of winning the doubles, King and Lewis held the upper hand during the tiebreak 5-2 but Simon Carr and Davis O’Hare equalized 6-6 and went on to win the tiebreak 8-6 and claimed the match 7-6 in what was a superb battle between the players.
The Irish went on to win 6-3 in the second set and they took advantage of the fact that Lewis was not having a good doubles match – he struggled with his serves and returns which was evident as his frustrations showed.
That once again put King in a must-win situation because Barbados were down 2-1 in the tie and yet again he delivered with an emphatic singles victory over Ireland’s top ranked Carr. However, it was not enough to stop the visitors as they went on to successfully claim the tie 3-2 when Osgar O’Hoisin defeated Kaipo Marshall in the fifth and decisive encounter of the tie.
During the interview with Barbados TODAY, Applewhaite also acknowledged that the players need more match experience and said from now until February before they meet Pacific Oceania that would be the focus.
“Kaipo is still very young, he is in school right now and he has been doing a lot of collegiate matches. Before the year is out we will try to identify one or two professional tournaments like in Trinidad for example for those guys to play so that they get the necessary match experience that Darian has at such a high level,” captain Applewhaite explained. [email protected]