The Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group III cycle rolls into action at the Aviation Tennis Club in Dubai today at 7.30pm Cambodian time after the official draw clustered Cambodia in Pool B along with Pacific Oceania, Vietnam and hosts United Arab Emirates while assigning Pool A to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Oman and Iran.
Cambodia, which caused a flutter in Doha last year by earning promotion to this group with a clean sweep in their Davis Cup debut, will open their quest against their neighbours Vietnam.
Teams topping the respective groups will be guaranteed promotional tickets to next year’s Group II while the two bottom finishers will drop down to Group IV
“By the look of it, Pool A certainly looks the tougher of the two but in any layer of Davis Cup there is no such thing as an easy draw,” Cambodia’s non-playing captain Tep Rithivit told the Post by phone after attending the draw ceremony yesterday.
“Every rubber makes an impact either for promotion or relegation. We have to take one tie at a time and keep doing our best.
“Our aim is to repeat the Doha winning dose. Every step you climb, the competition gets a lot stiffer. Retaining our Group III status is of paramount importance and any achievement over that will be a bonus,” he added.
The Cambodian players were put through their paces yesterday by national coach Braen Aneiros as the squad got the first feel of Dubai’s sweltering weather conditions. The matches, however, are scheduled to start at the much cooler clime of 4:30pm local time.
Cambodia is three hours ahead of Dubai on the time scale but this should not pose any problems for the national team, according to Aneiros, who represented Panama in the Davis Cup during his playing days
“We have had a couple of late evening sessions in Phnom Penh under the lights to simulate conditions here in Dubai,” said the coach.
Ranked at 71st among Davis Cup playing nations, Pacific Oceania, made up of players representing various island nations in the region other than Australia and New Zealand, lost their relegation battle in Group II to Lebanon last year.
The best Cup run for Pacific Oceania came in 2005 when the team made it to the second round of Group II.
The United Arab Emirates earned promotion in Doha alongside Cambodia last year. It was 11 years ago that UAE achieved their best record by finishing third in Group III.
For the fourth year running, Vietnam find themselves in Group III. The country stayed away from Cup competition for more than three decades after the Vietnam War and returned to the fold only in 2003.
In the other pool, Hong Kong has by far the best credentials having spent many seasons in Group II. Malaysia, Oman and Iran have had varying degrees of success in this bracket and are regarded as well-heeled teams.