Mallory proud of Bermuda’s Davis Cup display
Bermuda came up short in a bid to gain promotion to Davis Cup Americas Zone Group II in La Paz, Bolivia last week.
But non playing team captain and coach Ricky Mallory said Bermuda’s players having nothing to be ashamed of having produced the Island’s best ever Davis Cup showing in Americas Zone Group III in trying conditions at the Club de Tenis La Paz.
“Bermuda should be very proud of the fight and determination the players displayed,” he said. “This is the best Bermuda have ever performed in Group III.
“I feel our overall experience in Bolivia was a good one. Not only did the players get to compete against some top players from around the world, they got to experience what it's like living at one of, if not the highest city in the world, and also see a completely different culture and way of life.”
Tennis ace Gavin Manders echoed Mallory’s sentiments.
“I believe we left our stamp on Group III and will leave Bolivia with our heads high knowing we represented Bermuda to the fullest on and off the court,” he said. “Almost every match was a battle and if three or four points went our way we would have been in contention.
“We leave with the best performance ever in Group III for a Bermuda team; something to be very proud of moving forward.”
Bermuda lost all of their Group B matches against Costa Rica (2-1), Bahamas (3-0), Panama (2-1) and Honduras (2-1) but managed three wins in singles.
Manders, Bermuda’s most successful Davis Cup player, managed two of the wins while Na’im Azhar, a late replacement for David Thomas, claimed the other — his first at this level.
“The highlights for me as a coach was watching my players dig down deep, finding strength from within to win matches against Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras,” Mallory added. “The lows were knowing that we actually had a chance to win fixtures having lost matches that could have gone either way.”
Mallory said his players’ biggest challenge was playing at high altitude with a ball they are not accustomed to.
“Running around on a tennis court is similar to running constant shuttles; adding thin air to the equation obviously makes this more difficult,” he said. “On top of that because of the altitude the players had to use special balls, which flew through the air a lot faster than regular balls at sea level. All of the players had to cut the strings out of their rackets and get them restrung at a night tension in order to gain more control.”
Based on last week’s results in Bolivia and the potential coming up through the youth ranks, Mallory predicts a bright future for local tennis.
“The future for Bermuda Davis Cup and tennis as a whole in Bermuda is bright,” he said. “The majority of the players on the team are young and we have some juniors coming up behind these guys that are getting a lot more exposure in tennis through the help of our governing body the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association and The Temple of Tennis.
“Davis Cup is the largest annual international team competition in sport. So for a little tiny Island like Bermuda to produce tennis players that can compete at the same level as countries like Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba and Paraguay — who all have professional players playing on tour — it will be only a matter of time we have a world ranked player playing on the ATP tour.”