Niland leads the charge against Brit-bashers Lithuania
TICKETS are now on sale for Ireland's crucial Davis Cup second-round match against Lithuania at Fitzwilliam, which starts on Friday July 9.
The team of teenagers from Lithuania caused the shock of the Africa Asia Zone 2 Group when they eliminated a below-strength British team 3-2 in the opening round. Ireland, despite missing an injured Louk Sorensen, had little difficulty beating Turkey.
Although denied a glamour draw against the auld enemy, it means Ireland now have a realistic chance of making the third round of the competition in September, when promotion to Group 1 will be at stake.
Leading the Irish team is Conor Niland, whose victory at the Israel Open saw him rise to an all-time high of 165 on the world rankings a few weeks ago. Niland, after going out in the second round of the French Open qualifiers, is now ranked at 170.
Sorensen went out in the opening round of the qualifiers at Roland Garros, but at least the Germany-based player is back competing. Making up the team for the first round were James McGee and Barry King. With Colin O'Brien also available and James Cluskey playing on the international circuit, Ireland has strength in depth. The nation's best Davis Cup performance goes back to 1983, when it reached the World Group Play-offs, losing to the USA 3-1 in Dublin.
Ireland last played Lithuania in a Group III qualifier three years ago, beating them 2-1. Their key player is Ricardas Berankis, who lost to Niland in that match when aged only 17. He remains the oldest member of team, turning 20 in a few weeks' time, and his world ranking is moving upwards. Most recently he made the third round of the French Open qualifiers and is currently ranked at 188.
Meanwhile, on Monday June 7, the Advantage Tennis Club will hold a 12-hour marathon fundraiser. Advantage members will play tennis for the entire 12 hours, and newcomers are welcome to come along and try out the sport, with some spare tennis chairs available.
Advantage Tennis Club, founded by Garreth Greene in September 2009, encourages wheelchair users with a high level of mobility to get involved in wheelchair tennis. For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
31 May- 5 Jun: Ulster Veterans Championships, Belfast Boat Club.
3-7 June: Veterans Irish Open, Elm Park TC, Dublin.
4-7 June: Co Kildare Senior Open, Naas LTC.
5-7 June: City of Galway Senior Championships, Galway LTC.
6-13 June: Co Carlow Senior Open, Carlow LTC.