Wednesday, April 17, 2024

King’s back on track


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BARBADOS’ TOP-RANKED MAN is now in top shape too.
The King is back and raring to go, as the country’s No. 1 tennis player, Darian King, revealed he has fully recovered from his back ailments and is fit for next weekend’s pivotal Davis Cup encounter against visiting El Salvador.
King gave the assurance during yesterday’s Press launch at the National Tennis Centre ahead of the pivotal Americas Group II semi-final tie.
“It’s been one thing I’ve been working on for the last six weeks because I had a lot of difficulty playing in the last tie against Chile,” said the 21-year-old.
“But I think I have recovered fully now, so I will be ready for El Salvador. I’ve been playing some tournaments over the last six weeks and one of my goals was to get back into the 300s, which I have, but we’re playing Davis Cup now so that’s all I’m thinking about.
“Forget all the individual stuff. Now it’s about playing for my country,” he added.
It’s the best news possible for a keen home side, with King coming back home with a huge tournament win in Florida along with three other quarter-final results.
That is a far different narative from earlier this year when the local No. 1 injured his back entering the opening round tie with Chile.
But he still put Barbados on that same balky back, winning both his singles matches against the higher-rated Christian Garin and Gonzalo Lama while teaming up with Haydn Lewis to take the doubles too.
But he did show signs of distress, especially towards the end of the reverse singles, when he was seen favouring his back after wrapping up the last of 11 marathon sets over three days.
“Everyone is in good shape and in good health so we’re ready to take it one step further for our country,” said non-playing captain Kevin Yarde in dismissing any injury concerns.
“[That victory] was a very good accomplishment for us [and] I believe we can do the job again once we get the crowd support that we had in February.”
Now a different challenge awaits the ballyhooed Bajans, who are set to meet a familiar foe in El Salvador – a nation that currently holds a 4-1 record in the teams’ head-to-head match-ups.
The Central Americans even beat Barbados as recently as last year, taking the opening round rubber 4-1 in Santa Tecla after also winning the previous meeting at home four years ago.
However, that last result was against a squad missing Bajan No. 2 Haydn Lewis and playing on the less favourable clay surface.
And the hosts will be playing with the confidence of a unit that hasn’t lost a single tie since returning to Group II following wins over Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Chile.
“Revenge plays a factor because we haven’t beaten them in a while but we’re out for revenge definitely and hopefully home court advantage will play a big part in us getting it,” said Yarde.
“They prefer the slower surface and we know they have two very good players, but I think we have the artillery to deal with them.
“Marcelo [Arevalo] has a pretty big serve and that’s going to be a challenge on the hard court. But I think Haydn [Lewis] has more firepower to deliver and Darian has a very good return so he should get into the points very easy.
“Plus, I think the pressure will be on them, especially with all the results we’ve had at home so far. They would’ve seen what we’re capable of,” he added.
The tie opens on Friday, April 4, at the National Tennis Centre with the two opening round ties before the teams return the next day for a solitary doubles match.
If needed, the rubber will conclude on Sunday, April 6, with two reverse singles.
Barbados will be playing for their first ever trip to the Americas Group II final.

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