Racquets: Sorensen and Niland relishing rise in Davis Cup heat
THE exploits of Louk Sorensen and Conor Niland in the Australian Open have led to the highest level of Davis Cup interest among tennis fans here since Ireland's memorable tie against John McEnroe's USA at the RDS back in 1983.
In the wake of Sorensen winning a match in the main draw of the Melbourne Park event and Niland only narrowly missing out on a place in the last 128, this weekend's clash against Turkey at the Fitzwilliam Club in Dublin is a sell-out.
"All our 800 tickets for the tie were sold out over two weeks ago," Tennis Ireland's Aileen Rogan revealed about the Group Two first-round showdown. "And indeed we could easily have sold another 800."
A big screen in the refreshment area will facilitate those without tickets for the five-match tie and the tickets of fans who may have to leave early will be redistributed.
Of course, although Sorensen's and Niland's outstanding runs generated massive interest, the invariable downside of this is that it increases the level of expectation on the pair.
However, both 226-ranked Sorensen and 241-ranked Niland gave the impression at yesterday's pre-tournament press conference that this unavoidable factor is something that they can comfortably cope with even though they will have to face a much-higher ranked player in Turkey's No 1 Marsel Ilhan, who is placed at 121 in the world ladder.
"We welcome the fact that there is much more interest than normal in this Davis Cup tie," said Sorensen. "The Australian Open has given me a lot of confidence that I can beat players who are a good bit higher than me in the world rankings."
Niland added: "I know I have the ability to beat a lot of players in the top 150 of the rankings... the Australian has given us a lot of extra self-belief." The draw for the event, which will open with the team's respective No 1s facing the respective No 2s, will be held today.
Meanwhile, John Murphy is gunning for revenge in the national table tennis championships at DCU on Saturday. Last year, Murphy came up short in the final against fellow Dubliner Gavin Maguire in a five-set thriller. The pair will face a strong contender in Down's Paul McCreery, who won two singles titles in the Cardiff Open last weekend
In the women's event, Na Liu is unable to defend her title, and that opens the door for Ulster trio Amanda Mogey, Ashley Given and Claire Nelson, and Leinster duo Sara Dolan and Rebecca Kenny.
In squash, Ireland's Madeline Perry will be hoping to bounce back from her shock 3-0 defeat by Mexico's Samantha Teran in the Burning River Classic when the No 4 seed takes on New Zealand's unseeded Jaclyn Hawkes in the first round of the Chennai Open in India.