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Bothwell fired up for Irish Davis Cup promotion quest

 

By Barry Lennon

Peter Bothwell puts his education at SotoTennis Academy on hold this week for another test - gaining Irish promotion to group II of the Davis Cup.

The 21-year-old swaps the Costa Del Sol camp, where he spent the past four years, for the tournament at Sozopol on Bulgaria's Black Sea.

The Hillsborough man has developed under former British doubles No 1 Dan Kiernan's tutelage since leaving for Spain while still at school.

"I finished my GCSEs and I moved there because of the hard court surface and because I could play outside all year round really," he said.

"There's a lot of Futures Tour events in Spain and Portugal. A lot of time we can drive to events so that does save money too."

He added: "Everyone speaks English at the academy. I tried to learn a bit of Spanish when I first went out."

While the language remains a challenge, the move paid dividends as Bothwell makes his second Davis Cup team under non-playing captain Conor Niland.

Niland praised the Co Down man's debut performance last year which saw him claim victory in his opening match before losing to the Cypriot No 2.

"Pete was great last year and if we can produce performances like we did last year, we're putting ourselves in a real good position to get promoted," Niland said.

As a result he made the team again alongside Irish No 1 James McGee, David O'Hare and Sam Barry for the competition.

"My mum's friends were so keen to come out and support until they saw how difficult it was to get there. But there's not much notice about it (the competition) at home really. It's a small sport," Bothwell admits.

Tennis is in the blood as his mother Louise Tuff is a former Irish international thanks to the coaching of her late father Sammy.

Louise represented Ireland at a Junior Wimbledon Championships and Federation Cup while also encouraging Peter's younger brother Sam to take up the game.

"I think it was always going to happen that I'd play some sort of tennis. (Mum's) claim to fame is that she lost to Sue Barker at Wimbledon," Bothwell said.

Despite his mum's reminders of playing the best at Wimbledon, Bothwell is relieved he won't face such a challenge this week.

If Ireland make it out of their pool, they could face hosts Bulgaria who are, thankfully, without World No 12 Grigor Dimitrov.

"To see him play and the aura he has around him would be cool of course. But if he played and we ended up losing 2-1, that could be the difference. I'm glad he's not there really," he admitted.

Ireland get their pool campaign underway against Andorra today and face Kosovo tomorrow and Montenegro on Friday.

Winners from the four pools then play off against each other for the two places in next year's Europe/Africa's group II.

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