Playing against their more seasoned and higher ranked players, the young Canadians put up a splendid fight before going down fighting in the opening day singles match of the Davis Cup at Sportcampus Zuidepark at Hague on Friday.
Now Canada needs to win all three matches on Saturday to secure a spot in the Davis Cup Finals next fall.
In the opening match, Alexis Galarneau (no. 332) put up a gallant fight against the top-ranked player in the competition, Botic van de Zandschulp, who entered the Top 50 for the first time in his career (no. 48) earlier this week. Although the Dutchman was able to win in straight sets 7-5, 7-6(9), the Quebecer was able to keep it close on several occasions, especially in the second set when he was trailing 3-2. Showing great calmness, Galarneau immediately responded to get back to even. He did the same later on in the tiebreak, overcoming a 2-5 deficit before earning a set point. Although he was unable to complete the comeback, he surprised the crowd in The Hague with his dynamic play and impressive resilience.
“It was a good match. It was my first Davis Cup tie, so I had a little bit of nervousness and excitement. My team helped me a lot with good energy and I thought I did a good job of managing the first few games. Maybe I didn’t manage my energy so well after that. But overall, my tennis was really good and I had a lot of fun on the court,” said Galarneau after the match.
In the second match, Steven Diez (no. 294) faced the no. 2 player from the Netherlands, Tallon Griekspoor. Once again, despite losing in two identical sets of 6-4, the Ontarian imitated his compatriot and gave the world no. 54 a tough battle. He kept fighting until the last game of the first set, and even built an early lead in the second set thanks to a break of serve right out of the gate. However, the Dutchman managed to get back on even terms in the contest a few minutes later and regained the lead to close out the match after one hour and 38 minutes.
“There were a lot of mistakes [today]. But I tried to fight until the end [and] that’s what I did,” said Diez at the conclusion of his game. “I had a few chances in the second set, a few moments where I could have turned it around. For tomorrow, I’ll just try to play loose, forget about today’s match and just go for it.
“It was a tough day for us result wise going down 2-0. We had chances in both matches. Luck wasn’t on our side,” said Team Canada’s captain Frank Dancevic. “On a positive note, I was really happy to see Alexis play his first Davis Cup match. He was inspired by the moment and played some amazing tennis. We are still alive for the doubles tomorrow and will leave it all out there.”