VANCOUVER - Davis Cup tennis was being discussed during Super Bowl viewing Sunday after Canada’s team polished off Spain to move on to the quarter-finals of the World Group (top 16 countries) for the first time.
With a short, two-month turnaround before Canada plays Italy, winners over Croatia, in the next round, scheduled from April 5-7, Vancouver is once again a likely contender to play host to the next tie. The Stampede Corral in Calgary, where Canada is 5-0 all-time in Davis Cup competition, is the other obvious choice.
Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, home to the Winnipeg Jets, launched a social media campaign to attract the Canada-Spain tie but the building is unavailable in early April because of NHL scheduling.
“We’ll talk about it over the football game,” said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau, following his team’s 3-2 win over Spain Sunday. “There are a lot of levels to looked at by Tennis Canada. As the captain, my job is to get all the feedback from the players -- to see what surface they want to play on, what kind of conditions they want to play under. There are economic and political decisions to be considered by the board. We’ll put all of that together and come up with a decision. Because it’s a short turnaround, we’ll address it as soon we can.”
The best-of-five competition against a Spanish team without its most recognized stars drew audiences of 6,012, 5,889 and 5,895 over the three days of competition at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, played against the backdrop of a Super Bowl weekend and a Vancouver Canucks’ game Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sarah Grossman, manager of communications for Tennis Canada, said the overall count represents an attendance record for a Canadian Davis Cup event.
The UBC rink was configured to seat 6,214 spectators for tennis and thus meets the minimal 6,000 requirement set by the International Tennis Federation for a quarter-final round.
ATP players such as Milos Raonic will have a large voice in determining where the next round is played, since the object is to win and gamesmanship is an integral part of Davis Cup. Taking the international visitors out of their comfort zone in terms of playing surface, travel distance and biological clocks is standard procedure.
“It would be great,” Raonic said, when asked about the possibility of another Davis Cup return to Vancouver. “But a lot of this is politics, which I don’t involve myself in.”
Canada’s Davis Cup team should have an even deeper talent pool from which to choose against Italy with the addition of Ottawa-born Jesse Levine, No. 81 in the ATP Tour singles rankings and an accomplished doubles player. Levine, who grew up in Florida and is resident there, applied to the ITF for reinstatement as a “Canadian” but had to sit out a mandatory 90-day waiting period. That didn’t allow him to be available to play against Spain.
“Jesse’s going to bring us a lot of comfort, mentally,” Raonic said. “Knowing we have another player who can really play, he gives us more room for error, in the sense of an injury or somebody’s not playing well at a certain time. He’ll contribute a lot.”
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