Friday, May 24, 2024

Niland urges Irish Davis Cup fans to bring the noise

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Ireland’s Davis Cup captain Conor Niland is hopeful that a raucous home crowd in Limerick can give his team a lift when they take on Austria in a highly anticipated tie in Limerick this weekend.

The World Group I play-off will take place at a sold-out University of Limerick’s Sports Arena on Saturday and Sunday and is the first home tie for Ireland since 2015 as well as one of the most significant occasions for Irish tennis in the Davis Cup in just over 40 years.

Simon Carr, Osgar O’hOisin, Michael Agwi, Conor Gannon and playing vice-captain David O’Hare make up the five-strong Irish team, with Limerick native Niland serving in the traditional non-playing captain role.

The official draw for the order of play for this weekend’s five play-off matches takes place on Friday morning at UL Sports Arena and speaking on Wednesday as the Irish team trained on the venue’s hard court, Niland told RTÉ Mid West Correspondent Cathy Halloran that he was hopeful the home support could help bely Ireland’s ranking vis a vis the Austrians.

“We tend to raise our level at Davis Cup. Our ranking isn’t as high as the Austrian team but two and a half thousand people here hopefully giving a lot of noise and a lot of support will hopefully help us to put on a good performance,” he said.

“And ultimately it’s about showcasing Irish tennis and how good we are and how good an event this can be. So we’re really excited.”

Simon Carr, left, and Conor Gannon got to grips with the UL Sports Arena’s surface on Wednesday

Tennis Ireland CEO Kevin Quinn echoed that sentiment, adding: “We’re really looking forward to it so we want the crowd to get behind it, welcome the Irish team out but also to let Austria know that they’re up against it when they come here.”

Niland’s Austrian counterpart Juergen Melzer acknowledged that his team, who are ranked 27th in comparison to Ireland’s 50th place position, would need to be wary of falling foul of an upset across the four singles matches and one doubles clash.

“We come in as the favourites if you look at the rankings. There’s no doubt that we are coming as favourites,” he said.

“But in Davis Cup, there have always been surprises and you have to look out for that and so we are hopefully prepared on the weekend and trying to take those three points to Austria.”

Irish team member Simon Carr has also been speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of this weekend:

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