Davis Cup hopes rest on Thai No 1 and doubles twins
Host Thailands will have to lean heavily on No 1 Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul and the Ratiwatana twins when they meet Lebanon this weekend in the Davis Cup Zonal Group 2 final round tie at the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand (LTAT) complex.
With the LTAT’s policy of building for the future by fielding the young and inexperienced Palaphoom Kovapitukted as singles No 2 and Kasidit Samrej, as a reserve, Wishaya must win both his rubbers and the doubles team of Sonchat and Sanchai must win their one rubber to seal promotion to the Asia/Oceania region’s Group I next year.
Weerapat Doakmaiklee , left, poses with his Davis Cup players.
However, this will be anything but straightforward for the Kingdom as Lebanon, who were promoted from Group 3 to 2 this year, have two imported players, the 370th-ranked and Germany-based Benjamin Hassan and world No 643 Hady Habib, who lives in the US.
It would be a Herculean task for 18-year-old Palaphoom to win either of his singles rubbers, so Thailand cannot afford any slip-ups by the three main players if they wish to return to Group I for the first time since 2015.
Thai captain Weerapat Doakmaiklee admits he does not expect Palaphoom to earn a single point a point but needs him to make Hassan and Habib stay on court as long as possible.
“The more hours they spend on court, the more advantage we will have,” said Weerapat, who is captaining the side for the first time in a group stage final.
“If Lebanon have to use Hassan and Habib as the doubles on Sunday, they will have limited time to rest before the fourth and fifth rubbers.”
Wishaya faces Habib and Palaphoom takes on Hassan in Saturday’s first two rubbers.
Labanese team pose for a photographer.
While Thailand has no intention of changing Sonchat and Sanchai as the doubles pairing, Lebanon may need to use its top singles players for the doubles if the tie is at 1-1 after day one and the doubles takes on extra significance.
As it stands, Giovani Samaha and Michel Saade, Lebanon’s original doubles nominees, should not pose much of a threat to the two-time ATP doubles winners Sonchat and Sanchai.
The tie will end with the clashes between Wishaya and Hassan, followed by the final rubber between Palaphoom and Habib.
In terms of the singles, Weerapat is confident Wishaya can win both his rubbers, thanks largely to his big serves and aggressive groundstrokes.
“Wishaya has become more mature now and he just came back from two match points down to win his second ITF title last week. It shows that he is mentally tougher,” said Weerapat.
“In my view Hassan is solid but he doesn’t hit big. Habib, on the other hand, has a powerful game but is less consistent. So I’m quite confident we can secure three points.”
Thailand last appeared in Group 1 in 2015 but lost to South Korea in round one before going down to China in the playoff to be relegated to group 2 in the same year.
Thailand has reached the playoff final in both years since, losing in 2016 to Taiwan and in 2017 to Pakistan.