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Peter Bothwell's delight after his successful Davis Cup bow

By John Flack

Peter Bothwell made a hugely successful Davis Cup debut in Estonia yesterday as Ireland got their Europe-Africa Zone III campaign off to a winning start.

The Hillsborough native, who is based at the Soto Tennis Academy in southern Spain, raced to a 6-0 6-0 victory over Arber Sulstaroba in just over half an hour as Ireland went on to beat Albania 3-0.

"It was my first experience playing tennis with line judges and ball kids which was brilliant for me and I managed to keep my focus on the job in hand and do what was needed," said the 20-year-old.

"Naturally, I was delighted to get the win and get the team off to a good start which is always important. Every rubber is crucial as there are just two singles and one doubles at this level so if you lose one match the team is really up against it."

The Ulsterman had been included in the Irish Davis Cup squad a year ago but wasn't selected to play for the starting team in any of the matches.

However there is every chance that he will make several appearances over the course of the next few days, especially as national No.1 James McGee is unavailable, preferring instead to concentrate on playing on the professional tour.

Ireland, who are the seeded team in their group, play Armenia and Macedonia over the next two days as they bid to win their section and make the play-offs with the top two overall finishers earning promotion to Group II.

Andy Murray was every inch the proud new father as he prepared to return to his day job and lead Great Britain in the defence of their Davis Cup trophy against Japan.

The World No.2 has left wife Kim and three-week-old daughter Sophia at home in Surrey for the first-round tie at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena, which begins tomorrow.

Murray said: "I still practice hard and do all the same things I was doing before. I will find out if it is different on Friday or not. But it can only be a positive thing. I don't see it being negative at all, in terms of my career."

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