Azar joins ace Bicknell, Phillips in call for Jamaicans to support team in Davis Cup tie
BICKNELL...when we went to play Greece in Greece last year, in the Davis Cup play-offs, there were over 1,000 people chanting Greece on every point, and so for us playing in Jamaica we need to create that sort of atmosphere (Photo: Observer file)

With Jamaica set to host it first Davis Cup group two play-offs for the first time in over 15-years against Estonia this weekend, the country's top tennis players Blaise Bicknell and Rowland "Randy" Phillips said they will be banking on the support of their home fans to spur them to victory in these massive encounters.

The two-day championships will be held at the Eric Bell Tennis (centre) in Kingston on Saturday and Sunday starting at 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm, respectively, on each day.

The Eric Bell Tennis Centre was recently renovated with a brand new lighting system as well as expansion of seating that will now see the venue with a capacity for 1,000 spectators.

Bicknell, who is the country's number one player going into the championships, says he is urging Jamaicans to come out and support the national team because this will give players confidence throughout their matches in the tournament.

"When we went to play Greece in Greece last year, in the Davis Cup play-offs, there were over 1,000 people chanting Greece on every point, and so for us playing in Jamaica we need to create that sort of atmosphere, and so we need the fans to come out and cheer for us," said Bicknell.

"We need all the support that we can get because if we get the support, then that will give the team a lot of confidence and it will also help us to win our matches and beat this Estonia team," he added.

Bicknell, who attends the University of Tennessee in the United States, shared that he is in excellent shape going into this weekend's championships, and therefore he is feeling very confident at the moment.

"I am ready for the championships because I have been playing really well. I am also much fitter and stronger now, and mentally I am also feeling very strong, and so I am just looking forward to it now," he noted.

"I know that everyone on the team has been playing well, and so we are all just ready to go against this Estonia team that is a very good team, but I feel like we can win this tie at home," Bicknell went on.

The 21-year-old Bicknell has been having an excellent year so far for Tennessee where he helped the team to qualify for the ITA Men's National Indoor Championships on Sunday after winning his singles match in three sets.

Phillips, who is the country's number two player, said the home crowd support is very critical in these matches because it helps to push players and give them the requisite confidence boost.

"This is extremely important because I think that [fan support] can be the determining factor for us," said Phillips. I think that can push us further and allow us to fight a little bit harder and do our absolute best in front of our home fans."

Phillips stated that while the Estonia team is a very good one, he is nevertheless confident that Jamaica can come out victorious in the tie.

"I feel good physically and mentally. I am well-prepared and I am feeling pretty confident going into this tie," he said. "It is going to be a tough tie because any team that is playing at this level is going to be good, but they are beatable and I know that playing at home, we can beat them.

"I think that the singles matches are going to be our main focus because I think that we are stronger in the singles. However, we just have to go out there and compete well and make sure that we handle the environment and bring the pressure to them and see if they can handle it," Phillips said.

The other members of Jamaica's team are John Chin, Daniel Azar and Jacob Bicknell.

BICKNELL...we need all the support that we can get
PHILLIPS... I think that [fan support] can be the determining factor for us (Photo: Observer file)

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