The Venezuelan Davis Cup team will host its “home” matches against the Bahamas this weekend at the Doral Park Country Club.
Due to the economic turmoil and security concerns in Venezuela, Davis Cup officials moved the event to Doral, which is almost like home considering it is the city with the largest Venezuelan population in the United States (17 percent) and is nicknamed “Doralzuela.”
The proximity to the Bahamas also will make it easy for fans of the Bahamian team to attend, so a lively atmosphere is expected for the matches Friday through Sunday. Both teams advanced from Zone III playoffs last summer to the Zone II matchup this weekend. The winner faces the winner of Mexico-Guatemala in April.
Among the four players on the Bahamas team is Miami native Spencer Newman, 23, who attended Gulliver Academy through middle school, and played at the University of Florida. Newman’s father, Eric, was born and raised in the Bahamas, so Spencer is a dual citizen, as is his younger brother, Baker, also a member of the Davis Cup team but unable to play this weekend because he is on the Vanderbilt University team and has a big match he couldn’t miss.
The Newman brothers had to switch membership from the U.S. Tennis Association to the Bahamian Lawn Tennis Association to become eligible to represent the Bahamas. Spencer also had to pay the USTA back $27,000 for money that had been invested in his development and training.
“I had to jump through hoops to play for the Bahamas, but it’s a really cool opportunity for me and my brother,” said Newman, who is a real estate agent and coaches at Tennis305 at Continental Park in East Kendall. “The USTA did a lot for me, but I’d have to be in the Top 20 to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team, and that’s not where I’m at. I always knew in the back of my mind this was a possibility, so when I was approached about it, I decided to go for it.”
The other Bahamas players are: Philip Major Jr., Justin Lunn and player/captain Marvin Rolle. The Venezuela roster includes Ricardo Dominguez, Luis David Martinez, Jordi Munoz-Abreu, and Miguel Angel-Este with Johny Romero as captain. Matches begin Friday at 10 a.m.