By Alexandra Willis in Ovieda
You have to pity Team Kazakhstan. In their first World Group tie in 2011 they drew Czech Republic in the icy conditions of Ostrava, a mining town in the far east of Czech Republic. Puffer jackets at the ready, and not too big a deal given the normal temperatures in their capital Astana, you might think.
But next, they drew Argentina, and not during a balmy Pampas summer, but in July, and outdoors, too. With snow on the courts as they arrived for their Davis Cup quarterfinal, the tie put a new spin on the idea of playing through the cold.
That tie overcome, you can imagine the relief that swept through the camp, their loyal band of supporters too, as Spain came up for their first round tie in 2012.
A nice sojourn in Marbella, or Mallorca, or even Murcia, thought Andrey Golubev, the Kazakh No. 2, with relief. But no. The Davis Cup fates decided to subject Team Kazakhstan and their puffer jackets to one more outing, in Oviedo, almost as far north as you can get in Spain.
And then, to add insult to injury, during their post-draw practice yesterday afternoon someone decided to open all the doors. Kazakh No. 1 Mikhail Kukushkin’s nose was almost the same colour as his pale blue kit.
Just wait till we get a home tie, they must have been thinking, we’ll show everyone what 'cold' really means.
A word of praise to their supporters though, who are once again in situ, bongo drums, trumpets and all, supplemented with the odd song and shriek. Who knows where they’ll be off to next.
The Alpine horn anthem
By Chris Bowers in Fribourg
The 'Star Spangled Banner' has been performed in various guises, but could the opening ceremony have seen a 'first' for the American national anthem? After the presentation of the teams, the anthem was played on an Alpine horn by the Swiss folk group Burki Alphorn. It was a hauntingly beautiful rendition, even if its lyrical interpretation didn't make it easy to sing to.
The Alpine horn was just one of many typical Swiss features that are coming to characterise the Switzerland-USA tie. The Swiss fans, shimmering in their uniform red clothing, are amply equipped with cow bells, large drapes depicting chocolate box scenery adorn the walls of the Forum Fribourg, and all the local restaurants are treating their international guests to that delightful Swiss gastronomic speciality, the cheese fondue, ensuring the visitors will leave several kilos heavier than when they arrived.
The opening ceremony was preceded by a presentation to the Swiss team that reached the final in 1992, losing to the USA in Fort Worth, Texas. All a little older - and in some cases showing their own signs of too much fondue - the crowd warmly greeted Marc Rosset, Jakob Hlasek, Claudio Mezzadri and Thierry Grin. They were beaten by arguably the greatest American team ever, consisting of four past, present and future world No 1s: John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
Chichi captain Courier
By Chris Bowers in Fribourg
The US captain Jim Courier is continuing his trend-setting role in the fashion stakes. Instead of wearing his team tracksuit, Courier is on the US bench for the tie against Switzerland clad in a snappy grey suit and striped tie. He began the trend last year, and when confronted about it, he said he set no store by looking the same as his players as that was not his role.
In other team sports, the head coach frequently appears in a suit on the sidelines, so Courier is a pioneer only in tennis terms. Of course, Courier is donning a Hugo Boss suit - the company is a Davis Cup international sponsor. The big question: Has Courier started a trend? Will other coaches start following Courier’s lead and be ringing up Hugo Boss so they can sport the dapper rather than sporting look?
Lights, Camera, Action
By Sandra Harwitt
The Vancouver Tourist Board has a great deal to boast about when it comes to their city.
For starters, it’s a unique multi-cultural city where if you wanted to you could ski, golf, sail and swim all in the same day. The Vancouverites want to keep their city pristine and the way it is so there’s never been a downtown freeway built, and any suggestions of doing so are quickly thwarted.
Vancouver is the second largest port city in North America next to New York and is the fourth largest cruise ship terminus in the world. It is also the city in North America where the locals eat out more than any place else - you won’t have a problem finding a restaurant with good food and vegetarian fare is common.
One of the greatest industries in Vancouver is it’s a mini Hollywood. It’s among the top three film production cities in North America – it’s second behind Los Angeles in TV production, and third behind LA and New York in film production.
Why so? Tax concessions to the industry, good year round weather, and a variety of scenic offerings from mountains to sea.
Some of the TV shows that film in Vancouver through the years: X-Files, Viper, Outer Limits and Police Academy.
And some famous actors were born or grew up in Vancouver and its surrounding areas: Raymond Burr, Michael J. Fox, Pamela Anderson, Jason Priestly, Yvonne de Carlo, and James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek). Crooner Michael Buble is also a Vancouverite.