Cyprus Squad Must Defeat Morocco to Avoid Relegation
COPENHAGEN – Yale freshman Photos Photiades and his fellow Cypriot teammates traveled to Denmark this weekend to participate in the prestigious Davis Cup tournament, but were unable to pull out the upset against Denmark. The tie between Cyprus and Denmark was a first round encounter in the Europe/Africa Zone Group II bracket, and the Danish players emerged victorious by a 4-1 margin. Despite the loss, it will have been a memorable experience for Photiades, who was not only selected to the team but was also called upon as one of Cyprus's players in Saturday's pivotal doubles match.
Photiades earned his selection to the Cyprus Davis Cup team over winter break, when he won four qualifying matches against his countrymen. This is the second time Photiades has been chosen to play for his country; the first time was in April of last year when he was part of the Cyprus squad that defeated Benin to avoid relegation and remain in Group II. For the first round tie against Denmark this weekend, his teammates were Petros Chrysochos, who recently reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open junior tournament, Christos Hadjigeorgiou and Sergis Kyratzis. As the average age of this quartet is 19, it was clear from the outset of the tie that Cyprus was fielding a fairly young, but talented and ambitious roster against an older and more experienced Danish squad. The Danish squad featured Frederik Nielsen, who is currently ranked No. 45 in the world in doubles. Nielsen is also a Grand Slam champion, having won the 2012 Wimbledon Championships doubles title.
Denmark got off to a better start on Friday, the first day of the tie, when Martin Pedersen recorded a straight-set win over Kyratzis, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Despite this deflating loss, however, Cyprus remained energetic, with Chrysochos winning the first set against Nielsen in the second singles match of the day. Nielsen, who is ranked No. 618 in the world in singles, used his experience to his advantage, however, to pull away with the 2-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-6(4) victory. In doing so he gave Denmark a nearly insurmountable lead heading into Saturday's doubles clash.
Saturday's lone doubles match saw Photiades take to the court for Cyprus, alongside Hadjigeorgiou. The two Cypriots were pitted against Nielsen and Thomas Kronman. While Hadjigeorgiou and Photiades fought valiantly, Nielsen's doubles expertise saw him and Kronman roll to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 triumph, clinching the tie for Denmark. Though the tie had been won with the doubles win, Sunday's play saw two reverse singles matches take place, with Chrysochos notching Cyprus's lone victory of the weekend in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pedersen.
With the 4-1 win, Denmark advances to the second round of the 2014 Davis Cup, where its team will face Luxembourg, a 3-2 winner over Morocco this weekend. Cyprus, meanwhile, will head to Morocco the weekend of Apr. 4-6, where its team will try to replicate last year's win over Benin to again avoid relegation and remain in Group II for the 2015 Davis Cup.
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity