January 29, 2014

Yale Freshman Photos Photiades Earns High Honor in Selection to Cyprus Davis Cup Team

Cyprus Takes on Denmark in First Round of Competition Starting Friday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This upcoming weekend will surely be one to remember for Yale freshman Photos Photiades, as he travels halfway across the world to Denmark to play alongside his Cypriot countrymen in the first round of the 2014 Davis Cup.  The Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men's tennis, and consists of more than 130 countries fielding their most elite tennis players in competition.  Photiades, who hails from Cyprus, recently earned a spot on the 2014 Cyprus Davis Cup squad, and will have the honor of representing his country as the team takes on Denmark in the first round of Europe/Africa Zone Group II competition, starting on Friday.

Cyprus first began playing Davis Cup in 1985, and its best performance came in 2009 when the squad reached the final round of Europe/Africa Zone Group II.  In the tennis world, Cyprus is best known as the home country of Marcos Baghdatis, a professional who burst onto the tennis scene with an entertaining run to the 2006 Australian Open final as an unseeded player.  In that match, he led then-World No. 1 Roger Federer by a set and a break before falling in four sets.  Photiades had the chance to play alongside Baghdatis when both played for Cyprus in a crucial tie against Benin last April.  That was the first time Photiades was selected to play for his country, and in that tie, Cyprus pulled out a thrilling 3-2 victory to remain in Group II (instead of being relegated to Group III) for 2014. 

We caught up with Photiades to learn more about his impressive achievement and the upcoming tie against Denmark:

Q: How did you earn a spot on the team this year?

Photiades: I was selected through tryouts since I haven't played any domestic or international tournaments since joining Yale – I played qualifying matches against four other players during the winter break and qualified by winning all four.

Q: Who are the other members of the team?

Photiades: The rest of team includes Petros Chrysochos, a rising star of Cypriot tennis who recently reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open juniors, Sergis Kyratzis and Christos Hadjigeorgiou.

Q: What was it like to play alongside and learn from world-class tennis player and former Grand Slam finalist Marcos Baghdatis?

Photiades: During the week of the Davis Cup, I practiced with him and learned valuable lessons from my childhood hero both about tennis but also about life.  He gave me important advice on all aspects of an athlete's life, including how to handle adversity and failure. 

Q: What does your selection to the Cyprus Davis Cup Team mean to you?

Photiades: The selection for the Davis Cup is a huge honor representing my country at the highest level.  This was always one of the goals I set for myself when I started playing tennis competitively, and to manage to play for the team for the second consecutive year means a lot to me.    

Q: What is the outlook for the tie against Denmark?

Photiades: With Marcos Baghdatis not part of the team [this year], we are definitely the underdogs against a strong and experienced Danish side, which includes Frederik Nielsen, an excellent doubles player who won the Wimbledon Championships in 2012.  Additionally, the average age of our team is 19, but we are confident we can go there and perform an upset.

Q: What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

Photiades: I'm looking forward to reliving the experience of the Davis Cup which is something remarkable.  Similar to college tennis, there is some competition with your teammates as to who is going to play but in the end, everybody is behind the team and giving their best efforts for the win.  The tie against Denmark will be the first away tie experience and I'm really looking forward to seeing the atmosphere during the game in such an important match such as this.

The clash against Denmark will take place at the indoor hard courts of the Hørsholm-Rungsted Tennisklub in Copenhagen.  Friday's action will see the first two singles matches, with the doubles match to follow on Saturday.  Reverse singles matches are scheduled for Sunday.  The winner will face the winner of the tie between Luxembourg and Morocco in the second round of the 2014 Davis Cup, which takes place in April.    

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity