Sport: Pacific Oceania hope to keep Davis Cup winners intact
The Pacific Oceania wins promotion in the Davis Cup but faces challenges to retain all their players and secure more funding.
Pacific Oceania hopes to keep its winning tennis team together after earning promotion back to Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group Three.
The Dolphins beat the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in the playoff final to complete a clean sweep of their time in Bahrain.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
Team captain Gilles de Gouy says his players were forced to dig deep against the UAE, following wins over Iraq, Bahrain and Jordan in the round robin. Vanuatu's Cyril Jacobe won the opening singles match but Tahiti's Heve Kelley succumbed in straight sets to send the play-off to a deciding doubles rubber. Brett Baudinet from the Cook Islands and Guam's Daniel Llarenas prevailed in a tight affair 7-6 7-5, to maintain their perfect record throughout the week and elevate the Dolphins into Group Three in 2016, alongside Singapore. After being relegated to the bottom group two years ago, Gilles de Gouy says they needed to perform.
GILLES DE GOUY: We know that if we didn't get to the third group or division next year maybe the men's Davis Cup would purely and simply be cancelled for Oceania. It was also some pressure from us to do well, and we did it so it's great. We had to wait the last game with the crucial margin with a lot of suspense. It's even better when you win like that.
The President of Cook Islands Tennis, Brian Baudinet, says the achievement was all the more impressive considering the squad, including his son Brett, only arrived in Bahrain a day before their first match and had to combat temperatures in excess of 40 degrees.
BRIAN BAUDINET: The great thing about them is, being Pacific boys, they've got a little bit of built-in fighting spirit in them and that's come to the fore, and I think you have to also recognise that the other teams a lot of them were from American universities, I believe, and so a lot of them had been playing together before, so the win is even more momentus because of that.
Gilles de Gouy is hopeful the entire squad will return next year. Cyril Jacobe has a new-born child and increasing business commitments, and had signalled this would be his last Davis Cup appearance, after making his debut in 1999, but says he's now in two minds.
CYRIL JACOBE: When you end on the win like this it's a good thing because you end on a positive and you can actually say look I finished well and I did help the team to win the promotion but maybe I should give it another shot, you know? We did speak longly with the team and Gilles was actually quite disappointed that I was going to pull out of Davis Cup but I am actually contemplating now about doing next year again. He did say what about if you ask your partner and bring your kid over and we have one more together to see if we can actually do the promotion back up to group two.
The final hurdle to overcome will be funding. Pacific Oceania entered teams in both the Davis Cup and women's Fed Cup events this year, for the first time since 2004. And with both showing strong form, the Vice President of Oceania Tennis, Cyrille Mainguy, says the pressure is on to secure sponsorship to keep both campaigns afloat.
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