Thursday 22 March 2018

Racquets: Ireland face tough task

Paddy Hickey

IRELAND'S Davis Cup team will have to contend with the intimidating prospect of a player chasing a place in the top 100 of the world in next week's Dublin clash against Turkey.

The Turkish Tennis Federation have revealed that their team will be anchored by 128-ranked Marcel Ilhan in the Europe-Africa Zone Group Two first-round tie at the Fitzwilliam Club from March 5-7.

Ilhan will be joined on the Turkey team by 1190-ranked Baris Erguden, Haluk Akkoyun (1197) and Anil Yuksel (1401). Because of the inclusion of Uzbekistan-born Ilhan in their line-up, the Turks will fancy their chances of prevailing in one of the two singles contests.

Ilhan will face Irish No 2 Conor Niland on the Friday and national No 1 Louk Sorensen in the first of the two reverse singles on the Sunday, which complete the five-match tie.

A home victory will be hard-earned in either contest, but Ireland team boss Sean Sorensen will be hoping for a minimum of a 50pc return from the two ties involving Ilhan.

If that doesn't materialise, it will put massive pressure on the home side in their bid to clinch a likely home second-round tie against Great Britain, who are fancied to overcome first-round opponents Lithuania.

Meanwhile, James Cluskey has returned to the doubles world rankings for the first time since June 28 last, as a result of claiming his first doubles title in a world-ranking event.

The Dubliner and American Mark Venus won the ITF Futures event in Eilat, Israel, beating Belarus pair Alexander Bury and Pavel Katliaro in the final. The duo picked up 18 ranking points, earning Cluskey a place at 1,088 in the rankings.

In badminton, Ireland won two of their three ties to finish second in the European Men's Championships in Warsaw.

The Irish beat Greece 4-1 and Estonia 3-2, but lost 1-4 to Netherlands in the tie to decide which country would progress to the knockout stages.

Irish Independent

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