Pacific Oceania Davis Cup captain Jeff Race of the Northern Mariana Islands has pared down his search for players that would represent Pacific Oceania in next year’s Davis Cup tie.
The long-time CNMI national player announced that he has narrowed down his search to five players. The list of players are led by 2004 Davis Cup veterans players Michael Leong of Solomon Islands, Brett Baudinet of Cook Islands, and Juan Langton of Samoa. The other two candidates are Cyril Jacobe of Vanuatu and Muka Godinet of American Samoa.
“Based on past Davis Cup record and available results for the last 18 months, the following players have been selected to be part of the Pacific Oceania team,” said Race.
Race said the five-man team would be training in the coming months and will compete in the New Zealand Futures events in Hamilton and Auckland set for the second half of February.
He said the results of the Futures events, coupled with the results of challenge matches to be played at the same time, will determine the final four players that will represent Pacific Oceania in its Asia/Oceania Group II Davis Cup tie against a strong Lebanon team.
The team’s Davis Cup encounter with the Middle Eastern power would be held in Lautoka, Fiji in March 4-6.
Last year Race served as captain and alternate but the bigger budget for Group II competition allowed Pacific Oceania to take in an extra player.
With Leong, Baudinet, and Langton cooking up a storm and Race expertly guiding the squad on the sidelines, Pacific Oceania advanced to Davis Cup Group II play last April. The team was able to do this after topping Group III in the competition held at the Phu Thu Tennis Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last summer.
Leong, Langton, and Baudinet, went 4-0 in Pool B defeating Tajikistan, Syria, Bahrain and host Vietnam before losing to a tough Pool A topnotcher Kazakhstan in the finals.
If Pacific Oceania beats Lebanon they would have an away tie with the winner of the tie between Korea (the No. 2 seed) and the Philippines. Meanwhile, if Pacific Oceania losses then the second round tie would be at home against the loser of the Korea/Philippines match up. The second round ties will be played from July 15 to 17.