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Bermuda hold nerve to clinch Davis Cup promotion

Job done: Bermuda’s victorious Davis Cup team in Trinidad & Tobago after sealing a place in Americas group three next year with a 2-0 win over Cuba. From left, Gavin Manders, James Finnigan, Trey Mallory, coach Ricky Mallory and Tariq Simons (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda have been promoted from Davis Cup Americas group four at the first time of asking after beating Cuba 2-0 in the promotion play-off at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, Trinidad & Tobago, on Saturday.

Captain Trey Mallory got the ball rolling for Bermuda when he eased past the previously unbeaten Osmel Rivera Granja 6-1, 6-1 in the opening match.

Then Bermuda No 1 Tariq Simons launched the celebrations with an incredible 7-6, 6-0 defeat of Osviel Turino, which was the epitome of “a game of two halves”.

If Mallory’s win over the Cuban No 1 that confirmed his own unbeaten record was straightforward, Simons’s progress was anything but.

In an opening set that took 1hr 15min to complete, there were six breaks of serve with neither player establishing a real foothold.

Simons broke Turino’s serve for a final time to force the tie-break and reeled off four straight points from 2-3 down to establish three set points. But, typically for this first set, Turino came roaring back at 6-6 before Simons crucially claimed the next two points.

After a toilet break, the second set was a procession for the 21-year-old Bermudian, Simons immediately breaking serve, consolidating it and then racing off into the distance to ensure that Bermuda’s top seeding heading into this nine-team round-robin competition was upheld.

It meant that veteran Gavin Manders and James Finnigan, who were spectacular in the 2-1 pool-stage defeat of Antigua & Barbuda, were not required to contest their doubles assignment against Rivera and Yoan Pérez.

Coach Ricky Mallory had earlier been effusive about the effort that this team have put in. Included in the successes has been a second straight defeat of Honduras, having been previously winless against them in eight, and today beating Cuba for the first time after three earlier Davis Cup defeats.

“I am definitely elated with how the team have performed over the past few days,” the coach said this week. “It’s been an absolute wonder start to the campaign having defeated Haiti 3-0 and then battling with Antigua and winning the tie 2-1. It was a total team effort with not only the players but the travelling contingent giving vital support to the team.”

Manders hailed the accomplishment as an historic day for Bermuda tennis all-around.

“Pure undefeated feats across the board,” he said before catching a flight to Miami. “Bermuda undefeated as a team at 4-0. Trey and myself undefeated in the tournament with 5-0 and 3-0 records. Truly a team effort with every player on the team leaving the campaign with a winning record.

“The energy was contagious, as we became fan favourites throughout the competition. I am proud to be a part of this team and help Ricky lead this team into the future.

“Group three needs to watch out for this team, as I believe we are just scratching the surface of our full potential. Thanks to all those who travelled with us and supported us.”

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Published August 08, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated August 08, 2022 at 2:33 pm)

Bermuda hold nerve to clinch Davis Cup promotion

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