Will ‘Ap­ple’ be sent pack­ing?

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Front Page -

I mean Kevin Yarde was sacked as cap­tain soon af­ter his Davis Cup ten­nis squad was de­moted.

So now what’s go­ing to hap­pen with Damien Ap­ple­whaite?

Yeah, I know it’s been like two months since we lost to Ecuador but surely the Bar­ba­dos Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion (BTA) couldn’t have al­ready for­got­ten con­sid­er­ing just how bad of a de­feat it was on home soil.

And this cur­rent time frame kind of fits with the pre­vi­ous one, as Yarde also had to wait a cou­ple months be­fore re­ceiv­ing a Thor-like axe to the chest.

Like skip­per

Please don’t think for a minute I’m here openly ad­vo­cat­ing for Ap­ple­whaite’s dis­missal though, be­cause I rather like the skip­per on a per­sonal level.

He’s ex­tremely me­dia-friendly and I played ten­nis in my school­days look­ing up to “Ap­ple” as one of the bet­ter play­ers of “my” gen­er­a­tion, so I have no rea­son to want to see him lose his job.

Yet Yarde shouldn’t have lost it ei­ther.

You see, no mat­ter what the as­so­ci­a­tion de­cides to do with Ap­ple­whaite it will only show just how badly they treated the sit­u­a­tion with his pre­de­ces­sor.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Look at the sce­nar­ios for your­self.

If “Ap­ple” is fired, then the de­ci­sion comes over as the very rash re­ac­tion to a los­ing sea­son that ig­nores his pre­vi­ous body of work, but if he’s re­tained, then the ex­ec­u­tive will look wishy-washy for go­ing against a clear prece­dent they set just two years ago.

Now, the as­so­ci­a­tion could’ve got­ten away with say­ing that Yarde’s ax­ing had noth­ing to do with the team get­ting rel­e­gated had they just given us a rea­son for let­ting him go in the first place.

No ex­pla­na­tion

That’s right: the BTA never re­ally ex­plained why they cut Yarde, other than to say it was time to make a change for the bet­ter.

Of course, that time just so hap­pened to co­in­cide with the one year Yarde earned de­mo­tion in his 13 sea­sons at the helm.

I mean, he wasn’t re­moved in the other 12, so this looks like a prece­dent to me.

And what makes it worse for Ap­ple­whaite now is not only was his squad rel­e­gated from Group I but the team didn’t win a sin­gle rub­ber in any of the three ties it played this sea­son. Yikes! Granted Darian King didn’t play against the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic on the road, but he cer­tainly was avail­able for the other two ties at the Na­tional Ten­nis Cen­tre, where Bar­ba­dos man­aged to win just one set in eight to­tal matches.

Yes, you read that right.

Still com­pet­i­tive

At least Yarde can ar­gue that he didn’t have the lux­ury of play­ing at home dur­ing his rel­e­ga­tion sea­son. On top of that the team was still com­pet­i­tive in 2016, hav­ing pushed the same Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic to a de­ci­sive fifth rub­ber that Haydn Lewis nar­rowly lost in four hard-fought sets.

This isn’t a knock on Ap­ple­whaite be­cause you can’t over­look what Bar­ba­dos did last sea­son to win their first ever Group II tie over­seas in Paraguay en route to re­turn­ing to Group I.

But if we should recog­nise “Ap­ple” for his achieve­ments, then what about Yarde?

All he did was take the squad out of the depths of Group IV and lead it all the way up to Group I for the first time in the his­tory of Ba­jan ten­nis.

It wasn’t one and done for Yarde ei­ther, as the team en­joyed two full sea­sons in Group I.

To be hon­est though, Ap­ple­whaite had to con­tend with a short­ened for­mat, which is a death sen­tence for teams who rely on only two play­ers as Bar­ba­dos did with King and Lewis.

Yet that only fur­ther strength­ens Yarde’s case.

No mat­ter who’s in charge, Bar­ba­dos only goes as far as Darian and Haydn can take the team be­cause they’re the only ones who can win matches in Group I and II.

There’s re­ally no co­in­ci­dence that our squad’s rise runs di­rectly par­al­lel with that of Darian’s.

Yarde’s de­trac­tors may ar­gue that he didn’t pre­pare our other guys for this level although I don’t be­lieve any­one could in the short time Davis Cup cap­tains spend with their play­ers.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but I don’t even think that should be in a cap­tain’s job de­scrip­tion, con­sid­er­ing these play­ers all have their own coaches here at home and at col­lege in some cases.

At the end of the day Yarde was sim­ply given a raw deal and that will be ev­i­dent re­gard­less of the de­ci­sion the BTA makes on “Ap­ple”.

I’ll just pre­tend I don’t feel awk­ward with it.

(Pic­ture by Ken­more By­noe.)

WHITHER ‘AP­PLE’?: Will Damien Ap­ple­whaite be re­tained as Davis Cup ten­nis coach?

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