Jamaica defeat Estonia to advance in Davis Cup
Jamaica's tennis players and staff soak up the acclaim after they beat Estonia to advance in the Davis Cup at the Eric Bell Centre on Sunday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

THERE were joyous celebrations among Jamaican players and supporters inside the Eric Bell Centre on Sunday after the country gained qualification to the semi-finals of Group Two of the Davis Cup. The Jamaicans won the two-day play-off tie 3-2 over the European nation Estonia.

However, the fourth match between the country's number one player Blaise Bicknell and Estonia's Kristjan Tamm ended dramatically after the latter was defaulted (disqualified) by the match referee.

After losing the first set tie-breaker 5-7 to Bicknell, Tamm threw his racket, which hit one of the match officials on the foot, resulting in the disqualification.

This is the first time that the Jamaicans have gained qualification to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup Group Two play-off in over 20 years.

Jamaica's John Chin (right) plays a return as teammate Daniel Azar (left) looks on during day two of the Davis Cup men's doubles match against Estonia at Eric Bell Tennis Centre on Sunday. Estonia won 6-1, 6-2. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Bicknell said he was very delighted that they were able to accomplish this feat on home soil.

"I knew that I was going to win that match because I had the momentum going into that second set. I felt good, and the crowd was behind me and the team was behind and so it was incredible to get the job done for the country," said Bicknell.

"This is massive for Jamaica's tennis... we can't explain this feeling because we have been trying for years to get to this point," he said.

"We lost to El Savador three years ago — me and Randy Phillips — and we lost to Greece last year, and we went down to Group Three and now we are promoted again," Bicknell said.

Jamaica's tennis player Blaise Bicknell celebrates during the Davis Cup match against Estonia's Kristjan Tamm at Eric Bell Tennis Centre on Sunday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

He added: "I think that on paper we were not the favourites coming in, Estonia were the favourites, so I think that it shocked a lot of people that Jamaica came away with the win."

Ekke Tiidemann, captain of Estonia, said Tamm made a costly mistake.

"Everybody saw what happened so he made a mad decision by throwing the racket, and if you do that then you are defaulted immediately," said Tiidemann.

The Jamaicans held a 2-0 lead entering Sunday's final day of the encounter after Randy Phillips and Blaise Bickenell recorded impressive victories on Saturday.

The hosts got off to the worst possible start on Sunday when John Chin and Daniel Azar lost their doubles encounter against Kenneth Raisma and Jurgen Zopp 1-6, 2-6.

Jacob Bicknell, who is the older brother of Blaise, lost the final match of the tie 1-6, 0-6 to Johannes Seeman in a game of academic interest.

Phillips, the country's number two player, said he was happy that they have progressed.

"It was an unfortunate ending but an amazing feeling because I have been up to this play-offs three times and we have not won, and so it is a great feeling for us to go through on Jamaican soil," he said.

"We have a young team and we are building and we are getting stronger, and so this should be great for Jamaican tennis going forward," Phillips said.

BY ROBERT BAILEY Staff reporter

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