LA PAZ, BOLIVIA: Paraguay and Costa Rica, seeded No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group III event, started with their best foot forward in the Tennis Club La Paz.
Paraguay had to dig deep to get past Cuba, with the tie being decided in the doubles, while Costa Rica also had a fight on their hands against Bermuda, as they also won in the doubles.
For Bolivia, however, it was plain sailing and with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Jamaica they secured their place as one of the favourites to advance to Zone Group II next year.
The tie between Paraguay and Cuba started with a singles rubber in which Juan Carlos Ramirez succumbed to Cuba’s Randy Blanco 63 36 63 in a match that last two hours eight minutes. The Paraguayan Juan Borba, nevertheless, evened the score for his team after defeating William Dorantes 63 76(4) in another long match that lasted more than two hours.
The deciding rubber went the way of Paraguay, whose doubles duo used their experience and better ranking to break the Cuban impetus. Jose Benitez and Ramirez eventually winning 64 46 75 in the longest match of the day at two hours 15 minutes. The match was the last to finish and as such drew a crowd among all of the other officials and players.
The Paraguayan captain, Gustavo Ramirez, said: “It was a difficult start being a set to the bad, then we were able to draw level and in the doubles it wasn’t easy – all of the matches will be like this or more difficult.”
Costa Rica also left it until the doubles rubber to decide their tie against Bermuda. The latter took the lead when Gavin Manders overcame his rival Pablo Nunez 67(1) 62 36 in a match that lasted two hours 11 minutes.
Revenge came about immediately courtesy of Costa Rica’s No. 1 Ignaci Roca defeating Jenson Bascome 62 64. Roca made the best of his big serve to progress without any problems.
Finally, in the doubles, it was the partnership of Roca and Maurizio Feoli who overcame Bascome and Manders 61 63. It was a hard-fought tie but with victory Costa Rica confirmed their status as favourites in Pool B.
For the hosts, Bolivia, it was a proverbial walk in the park. Three rubbers played without the loss of a set and none of the matches lasted more than an hour. Hugo Dellien’s power, Federico Zeballos’ accurate serving and the supportive play of Boris Arias gave the first point for their country.
Bahamas also clinched their tie against Panama in the doubles rubber. Devin Mullings defeated Luis Garcia 62 60 before Walner Espinoza levelled the score with a 63 63 victory over Kevin Major.
In the doubles, Jamaal Adderley and Marvin Rolle overcame John Silva and Espinoza 76(4) 64.
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