Great Britain’s Davis Cup embarrassment
The Davis Cup may be perceived as a somewhat unfashionable competition in comparison with the four major Grand Slams, but the premier international event can still attract the crowds and ignite a sense of pride within a nation; as seen when Spain claimed the mantle last year in Madrid.
Such success seems a faint and distant hope for the Great Britain team who were unceremoniously dumped out of the first round by Lithuania. British captain John Lloyd must now prepare for a clash against Turkey in the relegation play-off. The British media have widely described it as the most embarrassing defeat ever inflicted on the team.
Lithuania only gained its independence a mere 20 years ago. It has battled to establish itself as a tennis nation, receiving limited funding while inhibited by a small pool of players from which to select a team from.
Nevertheless it appeared irrelevant on Sunday when 18-year-old Laurynas Grigelis, who is ranked 521st in the World, captured the imagination of the viewing public with an inspired performance.
It helped edge his country to a 3-2 victory. James Ward picked up a victory in his singles match on his Davis Cup debut while Dan Evans fought admirably but came up short in both his matches, twice losing in five sets.
Andy Murray was unavailable for selection for the match and it appears unlikely he will be able to compete against Turkey in July, with the relegation play-off coming a week after Wimbledon. It leaves Great Britain in serious trouble.
Should Great Britain lose to Turkey in July they will slip into the lowest tier of Davis Cup tennis, facing the likes of Andorra, Moldova and San Marino. A staggering prospect considering the amount of money the LTA pumps into British tennis.
Meanwhile Ireland enjoyed a successful weekend as they completed a comprehensive victory over Turkey, winning 4-1 in Dublin.
Last Friday, Conor Niland and James McGee both won their opening matches against opponents ranked higher in the ATP system. Ireland were without their Australian Open hero, Louk Sorensen.
The Irish moved into an invincible position with a straight sets victory in the doubles. They eventually cantered to victory and set up a tie with Lithuania, and not Great Britain as had been expected.