Ireland Davis Cup boss Garry Cahill will take considerable encouragement from Saturday’s excellent performance of his doubles pairing ahead of the relegation play-off against Egypt in Dublin on April 4-6.
For various reasons, Cahill was without his top three ranked players, James McGee, Louk Sorensen and Sam Barry, for the Europe-Africa Zone Group Two first round tie against Belarus in Minsk over the weekend.
But, pitted against the powerful home duo of Max Mirnyi and Alexander Bury, the first-time partnership of James Cluskey and David O’Hare gave an unexpectedly good account of themselves in the indoor hardcourt contest.
In fact, Cluskey, making his first appearance in the competition since the clash against Tunisia, at Dublin’s Riverview in July 2011, and O’Hare, on his Davis Cup debut, came within a whisker of pulling off a sensational win over former doubles World No 1 Mirnyi and his partner.
Stunning the home crowd by storming into a two sets to one lead, doubles world No 152 Cluskey and his fellow Dubliner O’Hare, a tennis scholarship student at Memphis University, had a match point when leading 6-5 in the fourth set tie-break.
Unfortunately, for the Irish duo, Mirnyi, a doubles quarter-finalist in last month’s Australian Open, and Bury steadied the ship.
And after a marathon 18 point tie-break, the home pair went on to level at two sets all before coming up trumps on a 6-7 (3/7) 7-6 (8/6) 5-7 7-6 (10/8) 6-2 margin.
Following the respective singles defeats sustained on Friday by Daniel Glancy, in his second Davis Cup match, and John Morrissey, on his debut, against Dzmitry Zhyrmont and Egor Gerasimov, the doubles result meant Belarus had built an unbeatable 3-0 lead.
So yesterday’s two reverse singles matches were merely dead rubbers and of minimal significance. In the first, Gerasimov saw off Glancy 6-3 6-3, and then the home country conceded a walkover in the final contest between Zhyrmont and Morrissey.
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