Bermuda’s number one tennis player Gavin Manders says equalling the island’s all-time Davis Cup singles wins record during their impressive win over Jamaica was emotional.
But the 28-year-old insisted being part of the island’s first win against a country of 2.8 million people was ‘way bigger’.
Manders, who has battled back from multiple injuries in a bike accident to reclaim top spot in the rankings, is now tied with team-mate Jensen Bascome on 12 wins. However, it’s the team spirit that helped Bermuda beat Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Puerto Rico in the Davis Cup Americas Zone group three last week, which has filled Manders with the most joy.
“For us moving forward, beating Jamaica was definitely a good thing for our confidence and respect at this level,” he told the Bermuda Sun.
“To be honest, it’s one of the biggest team efforts, a family type of win, that I have been a part of for a while. The way we came together on the court and off the court – in terms of cheering, we were definitely one of the loudest teams, and that really helped a lot against Jamaica. It was a milestone win for Bermuda tennis.”
Bermuda ultimately finished sixth in group three, their best ever at that level.
“Our tennis is just getting better. Since my injury and time away from tennis, I have a new found appreciation for the game.
“And we are a close-night family. That helps — we push through the hard times together.”
After Manders had won his singles match, David Thomas took the Jamaican number one Dominic Pagon to three sets before Bascome and Neal Towlson recorded a memorable doubles triumph.
Manders said: “I equalled the record when I won my singles and then David went to war with their number one. He lost but it put their best player in a tough position to play doubles. Neal and Jenson were fresh and it showed the depth of our squad.”
He added that the late Craig Bean, a junior tennis player who lost his life in a bike accident in 2000, inspired his victory.
“I didn’t know about the record until I checked the website,” said Manders. “It’s one of those emotional things you keep to yourself. I had seen the end of my career… I had my crash near where Craig Bean had his and I just feel like he was looking over me.”
He added: “Jenson is like a big brother to me – he said records are there to be broken.”