This article, by Dave Seminara came to my attention today thanks to a tennis head on a board I frequently check on. I've said here before that the attitude of some players - that it's a waste of their valuable time - is elitist in some cases and just plain wrong. Yes there are scheduling issues for the top players and injury concerns for all but there should be some honor attached to making the sacrifice of playing for your country. I think you'll come away with an appreciation for those players who make the sacrifice no matter how old or how young.
Gadonfin Yaka’s record-setting Davis Cup story began with a faulty alarm clock. “I was Togo’s captain, and we were traveling to Mauritius to play a match,” he recalled. “One of my players overslept and missed the flight, and another was going to have to leave early, so I had to play.” Yaka, who was born in a modest thatched roof dwelling in a remote Togolese village without electricity or running water, had retired from his job as a librarian five years before and wasn’t expecting to make a Davis Cup debut at the ripe age of 60.
Andre Agassi complained in his memoir Open that the Davis Cup “played havoc with my manicure schedule,” and many of today’s stars are similarly unwilling to commit to an event that offers scant remuneration and no ranking points. The Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual sporting event; this year 133 nations competed across 13 divisions. The stories of the youngest and oldest men ever to compete in the tournament indicate that the cup’s most compelling moments often involve players nowhere near the top of the ATP rankings.
Two of the three youngest players in Davis Cup history, Kenny Banzer of Liechtenstein and Hadi Badri of the United Arab Emirates, were both serving as ball boys only months before their Davis Cup debuts. The sport’s governing body officially recognizes Bangladesh’s Mohammed Akhtar Hossain as the youngest Davis Cup player in history at 13 years, 326 days. But Hossain, who now teaches tennis in Beijing, acknowledges that he was actually 15 when he played Davis Cup.
Kenny Banzer, second from left
Kenny Banzer, who in 2000 became the actual youngest Davis Cup participant at 14 years, 5 days old, fought his way onto Liechtenstein’s squad by winning a playoff match against a schoolmate. Banzer, who had to take a week off from the seventh grade in order to compete, teamed up with Wolfgang Strub, then 42, for a series of Davis Cup matches in Ghana.
So while some players feel that being asked to participate in Davis Cup is a form of lèse majesté think about the men who find honor in participation.
Meanwhile I've been watching Davis Cup on Tennis Channel. Watching John Isner run out of gas and Sam Querrey get outplayed was depressing to say the least. From the commentary it seems that Captain Patrick McEnroe has started playing what will become the new United States line up. Isner played doubles today and is first up tomorrow. I hope he gets the rest he needs.
In other news this man was photographed at Indian Wells. He said he was going to try and play.