By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
The Bahamas split its pair of singles and won the doubles to secure a 2-1 decision over Panama as they opened play in the American Zone III Davis Cup tie at the Club de Tenis La Paz in La Paz, Bolivia, on Monday.
Playing out of Pool B, the Bahamas got an identical 6-3, 6-3 win from No.2 seed Devin Mullings over Panama’s Luis Fernando Garcia. But top seed Kevin Major Jr suffered a a 3-6, 3-6 defeat at the hands of Panama’s Walner Espinoza as the two countries levelled the playing field.
In the clincher in the doubles, the Bahamian duo of Marvin Rolle and Jamal Adderley pulled off a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Panama’s Jose Gilberto Gomez and John Silva, their playing captain, to end the day with their initial lead in the week-long tie.
Major Jr has replaced Timothy Neilly, who was unable to travel because of an injury.
Efforts to contact the team, captained by John Farrington, in Bolivia after the performance were unsuccessful.
This is the second time that the Bahamas has played Panama. Last year in Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago in their Group B round robin play, the team of Rodney Carey, Marvin Rolle and Philip Major Jr won 3-0.
A total of nine teams are participating in the round robin format of the tie, which has been divided into two pools.
The Bahamas is playing out of pool B with Panama, Costa Rica, Bermuda and Honduras. Playing out of pool A are Paraguay, Jamaica, Bolivia and Cuba.
At the end of the round robin play, the top two teams in each pool will cross over to play to determine the final two teams that will advance to zone II in 2014.
Last year in Tobago, Rolle, Carey, Major and Jody Turnquest, captained by Dentry Mortimer, finished tied for third with Costa Rica as they both missed out on the opportunity to advance.
Guatemala and Haiti, by virtue of taking the top two spots, were promoted.
This year’s team, with the exception of Major Jr, who replaced Neilly, is back together after they last played in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in 2011 where they finished fifth. That year, both Barbados and Bolivia were promoted to zone II.
The Bahamas, with the team of Mullings, Neilly, Rolle and Bjorn Munroe, captained by Farrington, last played in Zone II in 2009 at the National Tennis Centre where they lost 3-2 to Guatemala and were relegated to zone III.
As a point of interest, the team of Mullings, Neilly, Rolle and Mark Knowles, captained by Farrington, lost 4-1 to Paraguay at the NTC in the second round of the tie to remain in zone II in 2008.
The Bahamas was elevated from zone III in 2007 in Guatemala after beating Bolivia 2-1.
In 2005, the Bahamas team of Mullings, Rolle, H’Cone Thompson and Ryan Sweeting, captained by Farrington, lost 5-0 to Colombia in Group II relegation playoffs.
The year before in Mexico, Farrington captained the team of Christopher Eldon, Bjorn Munroe and Thompson, which was blanked 5-0 by Mexico in the second round of the American Zone II.
The Bahamas was eliminated from Group One when the team of Mullings, Christopher Eldon, Davin Russell and Matthew Sands were blanked 4-0 by Venezuela in Venezuela. The team was also captained by Farrington.