22 Apr Fed Cup 2009 Day 2 Review
Ireland suffered a reversal of fortunes today (April 22nd) when they came up against group favourites Greece in Group III of the Euro/Africa zone with a 0-3 whitewash in Marsa, Malta. The young Irish team went into the tie hopeful more than confident of taking the match to a third and deciding rubber. With confidence high after their excellent victory over Algeria yesterday ther Irish were certain that the Greeks would prove to be one of their toughest competitors during the weeks action. The Greeks, unlike the Irish, had the luxury of being able to call on no less than four WTA ranked players for their Fed Cup squad. The Greeks travelled with their current No.1 star Anna Gerasimou (207), former world no. 14 Eleni Daniilidou (312), Irini Georgatou (589) and Stamatia Fafaliou (650) to the Mediterranean island, and were clearly looking to stake their claim on promotion back to Group II of the Euro/Africa Zone.
The Greeks were not taking the young Irish team for granted however and made sure to name their strongest possible line-up throughout the days tie. This gave the young Amy Bowtell, playing in only her second Fed Cup match, an opportunity to square up against a former top twenty player in the guise of Eleni Daniilidou. The Greystones girl started well, holding serve twice in her first two service games, but the experience of Daniilidou soon meant that she found herself on the backfoot and one set down. Although playing well throughout the second set the 15 year-old was unable to break down her Greek counterpart losing in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.
Playing as the Irish No.1, it was up to Rachael Dillon to try and square the match up in the second rubber of the tie. Like Amy Bowtell before her Rachael faced an uphill struggle against a far more experienced opponent than herself. World No. 207 Anna Gerasimou was always in complete control of the tie against the Dubliner and eased to victory in just over 53 minutes with a 6-0, 6-2 win to take the rubber and the tie with an unsurmountable 2-0 lead over the Irish.
Even with the tie wrapped up Greek Captain George Kalovelonis decided to field his strongest doubles pairing possible – Daniilidou and Gerasimou – a daunting prospect for the inexperienced Irish duo of Jenny Claffey and Lynsey McCullough. Although losing out in straight sets the performance will have pleased the Irish pair, who battled hard in every point, but just couldn’t convert their fighting spirit into winning points. Greece winning the final rubber 6-2, 6-2 and the tie outright by 3-0.
Garry Cahill’s squad will no doubt face a similarly tough test tomorrow when they face Finland, the one team likely to challenge Greece in the race for top spot of the Pool and promotion to Euro/Africa Zone Group II in 2010.
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