Jamaica take on USVI in Davis Cup opener
Jamaica will play the US Virgin Islands in their opening International Tennis Federation Davis Cup America Zone Group III match today in Panama, and coach/captain Dominic Pagon said nothing but a win is expected.
The tournament is set to run from June 30-July 3 and the team, which consists of Blaise and Jacob Bicknell, Randy Phillips and Dmitri Bird, has been placed in Group C with hosts Panama, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and Pagon believes that with the quality players and preparations they’ve had leading up to the tournament, they should get off to a comprehensive victory in today’s opener.
“The guys are well prepared. They have been training over the past couple of weeks in Jamaica and based on the work that they have been putting in, they are ready to play,” said Pagon.
“We will play US Virgin Islands and the guys are confident that they will pull through and get the win. With how Rowland (Randy Phillips) and Blaise are playing, and Dimitri and Jacob, the team is confident that we are going to get a 3-0 win tomorrow (today) and after that we are just going to take it one game at a time,” he added.
Two nations will advance from Group III to contest the 2022 World Group II Play-offs.
There will be two groups of four teams and one group of three teams. The teams finishing first in their groups, as well as the best second-place nation, will contest the play-off promotion to the World Group II Play-offs in 2022.
In 2019, Jamaica won promotion to Group II after a decade in Group III. That team included Pagon, Phillips, Bird and Jacob Bicknell, but they were relegated the following year.
However, with the addition of Blaise Bicknell, who led the University of Florida to the 2021 NCAA Division One Championship, and the experience Phillips has gained in Challengers Cup appearances over the last two years, Pagon thinks they are an even better team now and he is confident they can top the tournament and secure promotion.
“In 2019, we won and went to the play-offs and I feel this team is even stronger. So I feel confident we will make it all the way this time,” Pagon said. “Randy has been playing for Jamaica for some time now and his experience has done a lot for the team, and the addition of Blaise Bicknell has made the team that much better.
“It is going to be tough because every country is sending all their best players, but we are very confident of the way we are playing and I think we will win all the matches,” he added.
“The expectation is to win the competition. The toughest team in the group is Puerto Rico but I am confident we will end up beating them as well. So we are going to raise the flag high and make the country proud,” said Pagon.
Tennis Jamaica President John Azar also has very high expectations for the team.
“It is going to be difficult but I would fancy their chances. They have been together training for the last couple weeks. They have prepared well, so we certainly expect them to give of their best, and once they do that, I am confident that they will do themselves proud and Jamaica proud,” Azar said.