Davis Cup presents opportunity to raise profile of Jamaican tennis — Phillips
Members of Estonia's Davis Cup team (back row, from left ) Johannes Seeman, Kristjan Tamm, Jürgen Zopp, Oliver Ojakäär, Kenneth Raisma, Ekke Tiideman pose with their Jamaican counterparts (front row, from left) Randy Phillips, Daniel Azar, Mel Spence, Tennis Jamaica President John Azar during a Davis Cup press event at the AC Hotel in Kingston on Friday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

FOR Jamaica's Rowland "Randy" Phillips, the start of today's Davis Cup Two play-offs tie against Estonia presents a massive opportunity for the country to cement its spot in Group Two and raise the profile of Jamaica's tennis internationally.

The tie, which is expected to attract a full crowd at the 1,000-capacity Eric Bell Tennis in Kingston, is set to get underway at 3:00 pm.

Phillips, who is the country's number two player, will first face Kristjan Tamm, the number one player from Estonia.

Blaise Bicknell, who is Jamaica's number one-ranked player, will go up against Estonia's number two-seeded Jurgen Zopp. The return singles and doubles matches will be on Sunday's final day of the two-day championships.

The tie is Jamaica's first on home soil in over 15-years, and according to Phillips — who has been in excellent form recently — it presents a huge opportunity for Jamaican players to beat the Estonians.

"This is massive for us because I believe that if we beat Estonia, it will certainly make a lot more countries and players internationally start looking at us," he said.

"I am feeling very excited because I feel like we have put in the work and now it is the time to show the work that we have done. I am actually happy that I am playing their number one player first because I really want to start off playing him, and so it is going the way that I wanted it to go for us," Phillips disclosed.

He pointed out that he is mentally and physically prepared for the championships and is also looking forward to parading his skills in front of the home fans. Phillips stated that he has done his homework on today's opponent, therefore, he is looking forward to a very exciting contest.

"There is no pressure on us because we just really have to go out there and play tennis — and at the end of the day that is what it comes down to so there is no point in worrying about any other thing than just playing tennis," Phillips reasoned.

"I have looked up his results and I try to watch some videos of him and so I am quite familiar with how he plays, and so I am ready to go out and give my best for the country," he added.

Tamm, who has also been playing good tennis recently, said he is also feeling very confident ahead of today's matchup with his Jamaican opponent.

"I am feeling good because we are going to give a good fight starting tomorrow [today] and we will see how it goes," Tamm said.

"Physically and mentally I am feeling good but I don't know him so much and I don't know how he plays, but just let's see what happens on court. I bring good fighting and good physical play and so I am just going out there to do my best," the Estonian said.

Bicknell said is prepared for the championships and is looking forward to putting on a good show in front of the home fans.

"I am looking forward to it because I am well prepared and the whole team is very prepared for this moment," said Bicknell. "I am confident because I have been playing good tennis, and playing at home in front of our home crowd will definitely give us that extra push," he went on.

Meanwhile, head coach and captain of Jamaica's team Mel Spence said he is expecting exciting contests during the championships and is quite optimistic that the Jamaicans will come out on top.

"They are a good team and so it is going to be an epic battle because we are pretty evenly matched, I would say, and so I think it is going to depend on what happens throughout the matches," said Spence. "My players are extremely confident. Randy looks fantastic and I watched Blaise play yesterday [Thursday]) and he looks very good and we are raring to go," he ended.

BY ROBERT BAILEY Staff reporter robertb@jamaicaobserver.com

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