By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Under the circumstances, captain/coach Marvin Rolle said he’s pleased with the selection of the men’s team by the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association for this year’s Americas Zone II Davis Cup tie.
And Rolle, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s 2018 Coach of the Year, said the selection of the team for the Fed Cup is not a bad one either. Last year, Rolle was selected to serve as the coach of that team as well.
On Wednesday at the National Tennis Centre, the BLTA made the announcement of both teams following a revolt by some of the top players, who refused to play in the main draw of the Giorgio Baldacci National Open in December that served as the qualifier for both teams. “I think these are some good selections,” said Rolle, who played in the main draw, but was unable to complete his match because of an injury. “I think we have some good players on both sides.
“Hopefully, the two teams can get some good results.”
Rolle will once again lead the Davis Cup team of tournament champion Donte Armbrister, runner-up Justin Lunn, Kevin Major Jr, Baker Newman and Philip Major Jr.
Although no coach has been named, selected to the Fed Cup team are tournament champion Sydney Clarke, runner-up Sierra Donaldson, Kerrie Cartwright and Danielle Thompson.
A fifth player is also expected to be added before the team travels April 15-19.
The two Majors, Newman, Cartwright and Thompson all advanced to the main draw, but they objected to the way the seeding was set up for the main draw and they refused to play.
As a result of their actions, Armbrister emerged as the men’s champion over Lunn, while Clarke disposed of Donaldson for the ladies’ titles.
The BLTA, in their selection criteria, named the four players to the team and added the others based on their national and international rankings.
“It was sad to see it go down that way,” said Rolle about what transpired in the main draw. “I guess the way it happened, it shouldn’t have happened, but we can’t do anything about it now.
“Hopefully we can move forward with a positive attitude and get both teams in the right frame of mind to play so that we can continue to move up in the group play.”
Last year in Costa Rica, Rolle captained the team of Baker Newman, Philip Major Jr and Jodi Turnquest to a victory in their group of the American Zone III tie to advance to Zone II.
As the team gets ready for the Davis Cup tie when the draw is decided on February 5, Rolle said he would like for Team Bahamas to be ready. “We have some players who have been on the team before,” he said of everybody except Armbrister, who will be making his debut. “They will have to lead the team, but we have a good youngster coming up.
“I think we will have to come together and get into a training camp before Davis Cup, that would be good. We would need to see where their fitness level is at and where their mental game is. We need to do that at least a month before we travel.”
Not only will they use the camp for their own assessment, but in terms of who plays which position on the team, Rolle said it will come down to the International Tennis Federation’s ranking system that enables the team’s highest ranked player to play No.1 and follow in that order.
“We have some players with some rankings and so based on the ITF ruling, we will have to take that into consideration,” he stated.
Last year in addition to Rolle being named as the Coach of the Year, the Davis Cup team was named the Team of the Year. That, according to Rolle, is all the more reason for them to want to put the best team forward.
“I know we’re still young and we still have some room to improve,” he said. “But we have to make one step forward and take one step back so that we can achieve our goal.”
He noted the fact that after playing in Zone II, the team dropped to zone III, but they made it back to zone II. He said the goal this year is to either stay in zone II or advance to zone one.
As for the Fed Cup team, Rolle said based on what he saw last year working with them, he is confident that with the team they have this year, they should be able to continue to improve.
Last year, the team of Kerrie Cartwright, Simone Pratt, Danielle Thompson and Sierra Donaldson, captained by Rolle, reached the final of the American Zone II, only to lose out to Ecuador.