Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baseball Stadium to Be Site of Match

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baseball Stadium to Be Site of Match

Article excerpt

Through the years, Davis Cup matches have been played in Spanish bullrings and an airplane hangar at the Vienna airport.

U.S. Davis Cup venues have looked conservative by comparison, but that will change next year when the U.S. team plays host to Britain at Petco Park, the baseball stadium that is usually home to the San Diego Padres.

The first-round encounter will be played from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, which also happens to be the end of Super Bowl week. But the Americans and their captain, Jim Courier, have done their best to generate novelty. Not only have they chosen to play in a baseball stadium, but they have chosen to play on clay, a surface that was Kryptonite to previous generations of American stars but has gradually become a safer haven. The last time the United States hosted a series on clay was in 1992, when the Americans beat Sweden, 4-1, in Minneapolis in the semifinals.

"A home tie on clay feels weird, and it sounds weird," said Jeff Ryan, the senior director for team events at the U.S. Tennis Association and the man who has long identified and booked venues for the Davis Cup.

"But I guess I'm also in a weird way happy we've finally reached this point because I know Patrick McEnroe and the guys in player development are working on it quite a bit to get our younger players to be more comfortable on clay, and our older guys are becoming more comfortable on it."

The Americans beat Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and the Swiss in the first round of the Davis Cup on indoor clay in 2012, then beat the French on outdoor clay.

But the American men remain in a historically deep slump, struggling to be a factor at the top of the game. For the first time in the history of rankings, no American man was in the top 10 at the end of 2012. This year it will happen again, with John Isner ranked 14th this week and Sam Querrey, the next highest American, ranked No. 47.

But Isner has been ranked as high as ninth and Querrey as high as 17th, and the U.S. Davis Cup team also has perhaps the greatest doubles team in history in Bob and Mike Bryan, who won 11 titles this year, including three Grand Slam titles. …

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