Depleted Ireland fall to Belarus in Davis Cup
Conor Niland hopes to have his best players available for the relegation playoff in July
Ireland captain Conor Niland encourages his side during their 5-0 defeat to Belarus at Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO
Ireland must look to July to save their Group 2 status in the Euro/African zone after falling to Belarus at Castleknock Tennis Club in the first round.
A home team missing Tour players James McGee and Louk Sorensen just didn’t have enough against a side that looked like it has the ability to earn promotion from the group. Ireland now have a relegation battle against Turkey or South Africa.
Sunday’s reverse singles were unimportant after Belarus swept to a 3-0 lead after two days’ play.
Dead rubbersSam BarryDaniel Glancy
The Belarussian number one and two were considerably higher ranked than the Irish pair with their top player, Egor Gerasimov at 246 in the world and Dzmitry Zhyrmont at 275.
Barry with a ranking of 347 and Glancy at 933 were hoping to punch above their weight, but the strength and shot play of the visitors was never in question.
Massive differenceConor Niland
“Two would be great. The reality is that Louk hasn’t played [Davis Cup] since around 2009, so we don’t generally plan for Louk to be involved. We ask him and that but it’s a case that if he doesn’t make himself available it’s no real surprise.
“James missed the tie last year. He missed today so hopefully he plays in July but it’s a relegation match and we’re on the back foot and then he has to go and perform and then he’s really putting pressure on himself.”
It was also a disappointment for former Grand Slam competitor Niland, who sat in the chair as team captain for the first time since taking over from Garry Cahill.
But there was little he could do for the fans who largely filled the arena at the indoor court in the north Dublin club.
McGee and Sorensen are both on the circuit with McGee taking time out in the hope he would get into the qualification event for the Indian Wells Masters.
McGee hopes to make a breakthough into a higher level this year and has concentrated on getting his ranking up and again earning a place in a Grand Slam.
“That’s a good side Belarus has,” added Niland. “In the match-ups we were down in the all the singles in terms of the ranking, especially the number two singles for us.
“Daniel played well on Friday night, Sam had chances and the guys played well in the doubles but the two guys [from Belarus] made semis in a Tour event a few weeks ago and are ranked 80 in the world [in doubles] so you’re up against it.”
Ireland 0, Belarus 5: S Barry lost to D Zhyrmont 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 2-6; D Glancy lost to E Gerasimov 2-6, 3-6, 3-6; J Cluskey and D O’Hare lost to S Betov and A Bury 6-7 (7), 7-5, 3-6, 4-6; S Barry lost to E Gerasimov 6-7(6), 2-6; D Glancy lost to D Zhyrmont 2-6, 0-6.