The Zimbabwe Davis Cup will be hoping to make a statement towards return to the elite World Group, when they take on highly-rated Poland in a Euro/Africa Zone Group II tie at the Hala 100 Lecia Sopotu, in Sopot, Poland this weekend.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Despite being ranked 68th, eleven places below Zimbabwe in 57 position, Poland were competing in the World Group, as recent as 2016.
The Polish also have world number one doubles player, Lukasz Kubot, as well as another doubles specialist, Marcin Matkowski, ranked 46th in the world, while their number one singles player, Hubert Hurkacz is 171st on the ATP rankings.
However, Zimbabwe captain, Gwinyai Tongoona reckons his team is ready for the challenge.
“It’s an important tie for us. The Polish team is very strong, far much stronger than Turkey. They’ve fielded their best team for this tie, but we are prepared to give it a go this weekend,” he told Newsday Sport.
“We have to put some pressure on them on Saturday in singles. If we pull off a win in at least one of the singles, it will also put pressure on them going into Sunday. So we are prepared to fight for each and every point,” Tongoona said.
It’s the first time that Zimbabwe are playing in Poland since they won 3-2 in the initial meeting between the two countries in Warsaw in 1985.
Poland levelled the head-to-head record at the last meeting two years later in Harare.
The winner of the tie progresses to the Euro/Africa Zone Group I promotion play-off, while the loser remains in the Group II.
“We are playing on an indoor hard court, the surface is okay for us. It is a little chilly here at the moment though not much colder than Harare in June or July,” Tongoona said about the conditions in Turkey.
He was buoyed by the fact number two player, Takanyi Garanganga, who is recovering from a knee injury managed to train on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The team is made up of top player, Benjamin Lock, as well as youngster, Mehluli Sibanda and Mark Chigaazira.
Lock is ranked 472 in singles, while Garanganga is 490.