LOCAL tennis star James Cluskey was served some good news recently when it was announced he would represent Ireland in the Davis Cup at Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club between from March 6 to 8.
Cluskey was named as part of a four-man team to take on Bulgaria in the First Round tie of the BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group II first round tie. Sam Barry will lead the team with Daniel Glancy, while Cluskey is one half of a doubles duo with fellow Dubliner David O’Hare.
Speaking to GazetteSport about being named in a squad for a home tie, Cluskey said: “It’s always great to play at home.
“There’s only one professional tournament in Ireland, the Futures event in Fitzwilliam, but obviously I’ve been play a lot of Challenger level tournaments [a grade above] and so don’t always get to play.
“So when you do get to play at home, it’s great in front of friends and family; it’s really special and I’m really excited.”
The Swords man adds that is very different from being out on the road on his own, travelling to some of the world’s more obscure destinations, and he loves the team dynamic.
“Davis Cup has a different kind of feel. You’re very comfortable when you play at home and of course you’re in the team environment where you have everything taken care of.
“All of us guys in the Irish tennis set up know each other well; you’re with your friends basically so it’s a great time compared to when you’re on your own for long parts.”
The two teams met last year at the exact same stage when Bulgaria ran out 4-1 winners in Minsk.
Cluskey is familiar with the opposition, having faced Max Mirnyi and Alexander Bury last year with O’Hare.
Facing Mirnyi in particular is extra special for the Swords native, he explained. The Belarussian has won over $10m (€8.8m) and is a former doubles world number one with Cluskey adding he was one of his idols growing up.
“The first Davis Cup tie I went to as a kid to watch was Ireland vs Belarus and I saw Mirnyi play. To end up playing him last year, where we had match point and lost in five sets in a really close match was one of my best memories in tennis.
“I’m not sure if he will play the doubles this year but I know the other guys and I’m really excited to face them.”
The winners of the tie will face a second round match against either South Africa or Turkey from the July 17-19.