Monaco faces Finland in Davis Cup on clay in Europe/Africa Zone Group II

Matches open to the public free of charge Friday, Saturday & Sunday

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this week, the best tennis pros will be playing the Davis Cup tournament all over the world, including Monaco that will face Finland in the Europe/Africa Zone Group II, on the clay courts of the legendary Monte-Carlo Country Club (MCCC). The Monaco team counts with the invaluable financial support of the Monaco Tennis Federation. Matches are open to the public free of charge, so everybody is invited to come in red and white to cheer for the Monegasques. Public encouragement is important in Davis Cup so we count on you to get behind our local team!

The last time Monaco and Finland were confronted was in 2009 with an advantage for the Finns. Team captain Kim Tiilikainen told the journalists” “Monaco has a good quality team, and it was not easy to beat back in 2009.” The visiting team is the favorite but the Monegasques will certainly play to win, clay is their turf and the fans will be there to support them.

Monaco and the Davis Cup

It will be Monaco’s 75th participation as Monaco first played Davis Cup in 1929 (74 years) and has twice reached the Europe/Africa Zone Group I semifinals, in 1981 and 1985. It was also a Europe Zone semifinalist in 1972.

On the previous tie on April 4-6, 2014, Monaco recorded a convincing win over Norway in the relegation play-off to ensure that another year would be spent in Zone Group II. All four members of the team contributed to the victory, with Benjamin Balleret and Romain Arneodo both winning in straight sets on the first day, before Guillaume Couillard and Thomas Oger combined to claim a doubles triumph, also in straight sets.

At the press conference this past Wednesday, Monaco team captain Christophe Boggetti was asked how did he see their chances against Finland, to what he responded: “Day by day, we will see how things progress”. He added: “Each match will be difficult, Finland like Portugal (potential adversary in the second tour) are difficult to beat.”

The Monegasque team 

Benjamin Balleret (Ballou) – Born 01/15/1983, singles classification No.361 & No. 139 in doubles

Romain Arneodo (Sacha) – Born 08/04/1992, singles classification No.615 & No.177 in doubles

Guillaume Couillard – He is the national trainer since 2007. Born 12/10/1975, best singles classification in 2002: No.569, best doubles classification in 2002: No.839

Thomas Oger – Born 03/22/1980, best singles classification in 2007: No.249, best doubles classification in 2007: No.138

Captain: Christophe Boggetti who first participated in the Davis Cup in 1989 playing through 21 selections

Finland, the visiting team

Finland on the other side were defeated in 2014 by Bosnia/Herzegovina in a dramatic tie at the Tali Tennis Center in Helsinki. After a surprise loss for Jarkko Nieminen left the Finns 0-2, the team performed exceptionally well to claw its way back into the tie, with Nieminen making amends for his opening day loss with a straight sets victory to take the tie to a crucial fifth defining match. Juho Paukku held four match points against Bosnia/Herzegovina’s Mirza Basic, but was unable to convert them and Basic turned the match around to win 64 in the fifth, and consign Finland to another year at this level.Finland’s best Davis Cup performances have been reaching the World Group play-offs, which they did in 1990, 1999 and 2002. Its first appearance in the competition was in 1928.

The Finnish team 

Jarkko Nieminen – Born 07/13/1981, singles classification No.70, doubles classification No. 126. Nieminen had been No. 13 in the world back in 2006 and remained in the ATP top 50 during 10 years.

Micke Kontinen – Born 12/18/1992, singles classification No. 415 & No.692 in doubles

Henrik Sillanpaa – Born 04/12/1991, singles classification No. 602 & No. 727 in doubles

Henri Kontinen – Born 06/19/1990, best singles classification in 2010 No.220 & doubles classification No.49

Captain: Kim Tiilikainen

Official draw

The draw for the matches took place at noon today in the presence of Georges Marsan, Mayor of Monaco, Isabelle Bonnal, director of National Education, Youth and Sports and Francis Truchi, director of the MCCC. The draw was conducted by Romanian referee Mihaela Testiban who will be officiating the Davis Cup matches in Monaco, accompanied by Melanie Antoinette de Massy, member of the Monte-Carlo Country Club Committee, and Teemu Purho, the Finnish Tennis Association general manager. The selected international chair-umpires will be Manuel Absolu and Florian Couturier from France.

Below is the order of play and the players for each match. The official ceremony will be on Friday, March 6 at 10:45, with the first singles scheduled for 11:00 where Romain Arneodo (youngest of the Monegasques) will open the competition by facing experienced Jarko Nieminen, not an easy task; followed by Benjamin Balleret versus Micke Kontinen (the youngest of the Finns). On Saturday there will be the doubles confrontation and on Sunday the other two singles. Monaco’s captain has changed the composition for the doubles as the duo will now be Balleret/Arneodo who have been successful in recent competitions. Great idea! 

Davis Cup – A little bit of history

Davis Cup began in 1900 as a competition between USA and Great Britain. It’s now the world’s largest annual international team competition in sport, with 122 nations taking part in 2014. The idea of Davis Cup was conceived a year earlier by four members of the Harvard University tennis team, who wished to set up a match between USA and Great Britain. Once the two respective national associations had agreed, one of the four players, Dwight Davis, designed a tournament format and ordered a trophy, buying it with his own money.

The tournament was originally known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, but soon became known as Davis Cup after Dwight Davis’s trophy, which was designed by William Durgin and crafted by Rowland Rhodes. In 1981, the current Davis Cup format was introduced and a 16-nation World Group created to compete for glory each year. The remaining nations were split into regional Zone Groups with promotion and relegation up for grabs.

Let the games begin!

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