Tickets sell out after Louk breakthrough

Lindie Naughton

THANKS largely to Louk Sorensen's wonderful run at the Australian Open, tickets are completely sold out for this weekend's Davis Cup Europe-Africa Zone Group II clash with Turkey at Fitzwilliam.

Irish tennis fans are clearly hoping to see a resounding victory for the national team of Sorensen, Conor Niland, James McGee and Barry King.

Key player for the visitors is 23-year-old Marcel Ilhan currently ranked 126 in the world.

Although he is ranked more than a hundred places higher than either of them, both Sorensen and Niland have beaten Ilhan in the past.

In 2008, Sorensen beat him in three sets on his way to the quarter-final at the Donetsk Challenge.

Last September, when Ilhan was top seed, Niland beat him despite dropping the middle set at the Turkey Futures in Istanbul.

Most recently, he went out in the opening round of the Doha Open qualifying draw to Czech player Lukas Dlouhy who was ranked 73 in the world back in 2006 but is several hundred places below that at present.

Niland will face Ilhan first when play begins tomorrow at Fitzwilliam (4.0). Sorensen will play him in Sunday's reverse singles.

Ilhan is joined on the Turkey team by Haluk Akkoyun, a regular on the Turkish team since 1998, who played at the Davis Cup round robin held at Fitzwilliam in 2005.

The third member of the team is Baris Erguden, who made his David Cup debt at Fitzwilliam in 2005. Both are ranked just outside the top 1,000 in the world.

Last year, Turkey finished second in Europe/Africa Group III earning promotion to Group II for the first time since 2001.

By contrast, the Irish have held their own in Group II over the past few years and have good reason to be optimistic of making the second round of matches again this year.

Should they beat Turkey they are likely to face Great Britain, demoted from Group I last year. They face Lithuania this weekend in their first match of the season.

The second round of matches is scheduled for July 9-11.