By BRENT STUBBS
IT IS not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
DESPITE the way the team performed, it was obvious that the absence of Baker Newman and Kevin Major Jr made a difference in the outcome of Team Bahamas performance in the first round of the American Zone II Davis Cup tie.
Without the two players - seeded at number one and four – player/captain Marvin Rolle had to joggle the team’s lineup against the No. 2 ranked Venezuela after adding Philip Major Jr and Justin Lunn.
With their home tie played at the Doral Park Country Club in Miami, Florida, instead of hostile Venezuela, many expected the outcome to be a lot different than the 5-0 whitewashing that the Bahamas suffered.
But Philip Major Jr was the lone player from the Bahamas to have won a set. He did it twice in the two singles he played, both in tiebreakers before he went on to lose the rest of the matches.
Just imagine what could have happened if the Bahamas had Baker Newman and Kevin Major Jr. Both possess the big power games that only Philip Major Jr was able to deliver.
However, while we have to commend Major Jr on his performance, it was obvious that he lacked the stamina to keep it going as the Venezuelan players used their finance to wear him down late into the matches.
It might be taking it a bit too far to say that the Bahamas could have won the tie. But I believe that if the two players were on the team, the outcome would have been slightly different.
Now it remains to be seen what the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association will counter what when the second round is played in Bolivia over the weekend of April 7-9 in Bolivia in the relegation playoffs. Bolivia is coming off a 3-2 loss to El Salvador over the weekend as well.
The Bahamas has played Bolivia twice and has split the match-up. In their initial meeting in 2007 in Guatemala City, Guatemala in Group III, the Bahamas won 2-1. But in their last meeting in 2011 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Bolivia won 3-0.
The Bahamas will need to beat Bolivia in order to remain in zone II for 2018. If the Bahamas loses, the country will be relegated to zone III.
Hopefully by then, Baker Newman should be finished with his commitment to University of Vanderbilt and he will prepared to join the team.
It’s not known if Kevin Major Jr will get the chance to travel as he has just enrolled at Seminole State Junior College in Oklahoma. So it may be more difficult for him to make the trip.
Rolle has indicated that if they can’t get Baker Newman and or Kevin Major Jr to travel, they will work with what they have and make the best out of it.
BLTA president Elwood Donaldson said he’s been in talks with veteran Mark Knowles, who had indicated that he was prepared to come out of retirement and help the team out in doubles.
Whether or not that is the best solution is another story.
It would appear that the players just need to get out and play a lot more of the Futures Tour, even if it’s just in the Florida area because they need to be more tournament ready than anything else.
At zone II and above, matches are best-of-five sets, rather than best-of-three sets, which mean that the players will have to endure much longer matches. So if you’re not physically fit and mentally ready, it will be a long tie.
We will have to wait and see how the BLTA response in naming the team to face Bolivia. However it is decided, it will be one of the most important ties that the Bahamas would have to get prepared to play in.