Officials rage as Finns refuse to complete Davis Cup tie

Irish tennis officials were left fuming after Finland refused to play the final match in the Davis Cup tie at the Castleknock Club.

Yesterday’s programme kicked off with Daniel Glancy, the first Mayoman to play Davis Cup for this country, scoring a 6-2 2-6 6-2 win over Micke Kontinen in the first of the two dead singles rubbers.

But then a major verbal set-do developed between Tennis Ireland CEO Des Allen and Finland non-playing captain Kim Tiilkainen on the side of the court.

And arising out of the discussions, the visiting outfit, who had built up an unbeatable 3-0 lead after Friday’s two singles and doubles on Saturday, declined to play the remaining singles contest between Sam Barry and three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Jarkko Nieminen.

As a result, a very large crowd who had paid €20 each for their tickets felt short-changed.

The excuse given by Tiilkainen was that neither Nieminen, nor the other two players, Harri Heliovaara and Micke Kontinen’s brother, Henri, were fit enough to take part in a match, which instead of the live-match format of best-of-five sets would be merely best-of-three.

But that was rubbished by Allen, who was supported by ITF representative Clare Wood in his robust attempts to persuade the visiting team to play the final match.

“From Tennis Ireland’s perspective, it’s an unmitigated disaster. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s unprecedented that a country would fail to fulfil a tie in the complete sense,” fumed Allen.

“None of the three Finnish players were declared unfit by the independent on-site medical officer who we employ for Davis Cup ties. I’ve never come across anything like this before, and we plan to make a follow-up complaint about this to the ITF tomorrow (Monday) morning.

“Clare (Wood) worked extremely hard to persuade the Finns to play the match, and she was very concerned by the Finnish team’s action.”

With regard to the effect on the crowd, Allen said: “It’s most unfortunate for all the people who came along here today that we weren’t able to offer them a second match.”

Defending his team’s decision, Tiilkainen said: “We’ve had injury problems with our players for the last three years and none of them was fit to play today.

“We’re very sorry that we couldn’t play the second match. (After winning the tie), we should be celebrating, but you see our faces, we are sad because we feel so bad about this.”

In response to the Finnish captain’s claims, Allen said: “The Finns are not the only country with injury problems. Because of a string of injuries, we were without Louk Sorensen for three years in the Davis Cup, and Conor Niland was forced to retire prematurely 12 months ago because of problems with both hips.”

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