Tennis: Barry shrugs off pressure to emerge as Irish hero
JAMES McGEE was supposed to do the business but instead it was relative rookie Sam Barry who emerged as the hero as Ireland eventually saw off Estonia 3-2 in their Davis Cup clash at David Lloyd Riverview.
On the back of the dramatic doubles rubber on Saturday, when Barry and McGee saved two match points before clinching a 6-4 6-3 3-6 3-6 9-7 victory against Vladimir Ivanov and Marek Marksoo, the home side carried the boost of a 2-1 lead into yesterday's two reverse singles.
Home hopes were high that 25-year-old Dubliner McGee would ensure that the final singles would be a dead rubber by putting Ivanov to the sword. But despite recovering from going two sets down to level, the Castleknock man succumbed 6-4 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-1.
But Limerick man Barry, who celebrated his 21st birthday last week, ensured that Ireland will at least retain their Group Two status in next year's Europe-Africa Zone by powering his way to an emphatic 6-2 6-1 6-3 victory over Marksoo.
Another bonus of Barry's victory is that Garry Cahill's charges will now host Finland, 3-2 winners over Bulgaria, in Sofia at the weekend, in a second-round tie on April.
"I wasn't happy with the way I played in the singles on Friday night (he lost to Ivanov in four sets)," said Barry, who was making his home Davis Cup debut after playing in last year's away ties in Hungary and Egypt.
"So it was great to get a chance to redeem myself and in such an important match.
"Of course, there was a bit of pressure on me, but I was fairly confident in my ability to get the job done."