Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tennis Anyone?

In the midst of college football's most important pre-bowl games, college basketball starting to heat up, weekly NFL excitement, post-Euro 2008 qualifiers, and even some solid NBA action, not much attention has, or will I imagine, be given to tennis. I wish that was not the case, especially with this awesome news...
The United States has won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1995 (12 years is the longest span without a title) at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR (which is the first time the U.S. has hosted since 1992). Yes, that was a run-on sentence, but I figured if I didn't know the historical stats before reading the article, odds are you won't either. And for anyone who wants to learn more—like that the Davis Cup was conceived by 4 Harvard students in 1899 and was first played in 1900 against Great Britain—check out the Wikipedia entry. One last sentence of info: It is a 16-team/country tournament put on by the ITF (International Tennis Federation), and the U.S. beat the Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, and then Russia (in that order) to take the title.

So congratulations to Patrick McEnroe (captain), Roddick, Blake, the Bryan Brothers, whom (as a doubles player myself) I believe are the most fun players to watch in the world. Watching Bob Bryan, a lefty, serve 4 straight aces in a game at the Open this year was one of the most ridiculous sports feats I've witnessed in person. (There should be a name for that, but I don't think there is. Anyone? What's the opposite of the golden sombrero.) He was also the model for American Express' serve analysis that they offered for free in Bryant Park.

I've always been a fan of doubles. I've enjoyed playing it mostly for the strategic aspect (as well as the fact that it allowed me to more easily hide my appalling backhand). And I've enjoyed watching the strategy that great teams employ (as well as the speed of net play and the energy that comes from having a partner with whom to celebrate - just look at the Bryans' patented chest bump). I've also always been a fan of team sports, so making this individualistic sport a team one for this tournament has always been appealing...even if I can never find it on T.V. And finally, I like an international competition...even it's no World Cup. Even as an accomplished singles player, Andy Roddick has talked about how this tournament holds the most importance to him for this reason. And that's the main reason I've always supported him. He cares as much about growing the sport of tennis in the U.S. as anyone in the USTA., and he acknowledges he can't do it alone.

Anyway, I'm pumped so I posted. As Mike Bryan put it, “No words can explain how we feel right now, except Woooooooo!” The energy around this event is really good for the sport, and if I ran the USTA, I'd work more closely with the ITF, invest more in getting it on air and making people aware of it, and link it closer to their youth tennis initiatives. Yes, I know there is a significant challenge in that it takes almost a full year to complete (first round in Feb and just finished now). However, as a planner this is a challenge I'd love to take on...with a team!


Clay Parker Jones said...

You see that Sampras beat Federer once?

El Gaffney said...

yeah, but i'm having a hard time believing roger didn't either let that happen or was so psychologically over it that he couldn't mentally prepare for that last of 3 exhibitions. that's not to say sampras isn't still a badass on fast courts (carpet i believe).