James Cluskey will be among the star attractions at Castleknock LTC this weekend

THE FIRST weekend of March marks a momentous couple of days for Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club as the Dublin 15 club is hosting a Davis Cup fixture for the third time.

Ireland will welcome Belarus to the north Dublin facility from Friday to Sunday for three days packed with top quality tennis action.

The Irish squad selected by team captain Conor Niland includes Sam Barry, Daniel Glancy, James Cluskey and David O’Hare. Unfortunately, Ireland number one and Castleknock’s own James McGee was unavailable for selection due to tournament commitments at the qualifiers for Indian Wells.

Nonetheless, speaking to GazetteSport in the week leading up the event, president of Castleknock LTC Geoff Ross was hopeful the Irish squad could pull off an upset over the weekend.

“The previous two years have gone well in terms of the club’s organisation. We played Finland two years ago; Egypt last year and now Belarus are the opposition.

“The team would have played Belarus last year in Belarus and the Irish side lost 4-1 but we’re hoping that home advantage will make a difference.

“We’re hoping the club and Irish tennis supporters get behind the Irish team.”

On how the club are preparing for the event, Ross said that there is plenty going in over the course of the weekend.

“We normally have social tennis on the Saturday night with food and music afterwards which brings a good buzz to the club,” he said.

“We’re expecting we’ll be busy on the Friday night too as there’s two matches scheduled to start at four so, in all probability, they’ll run into the evening, which will be good for the bar takings and provide a good atmosphere around the club.”

There will be added reason for positivity for Castleknock members this week after their former President; Dr Gerry More O’Ferrall received the Raymund Egan award on Wednesday night from Tennis Ireland. The award is the most prestigious form of recognition any individual can achieve from Tennis Ireland and emphasises the outstanding contribution he has made to tennis in Ireland.

Looking ahead to the weekend’s task for the Irish side, Ross was under no illusions of how tricky the Belarus side will be. “On paper they would be slightly stronger,” he said.

“They have Max Mirnyi, who was previously ranked number one in the world in doubles and still plays at the highest level in the doubles circuit. He’s not declared on the team for now but I believe he is coming over with the team so there is a possibility he still might play in the doubles. But as I said we’re just hoping home advantage can do the team a favour.”