Two of the greatest players in the history of Chilean tennis, Nicolas Massu and Marcelo Rios, have been chosen by the Chilean Tennis Federation to lead the national Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team.
The task at hand for the new recruits is a great challenge. Chile lost to Dominican Republic in the Americas Zone Group I relegation play-off in September, meaning that Massu will begin his reign in Zone Group II, a Group in which Chile have not competed since 1991.
However, Massu as well as Rios both expressed their great enthusiasm and ambition at starting what they believe to be a new era in Chilean tennis, in which they will try to help Chile achieve its tennis potential.
“Tennis is my passion, I love it, you can leave the game professionally but I always said that I wanted to stay as close as possible to the sport which gave me so much,” new captain Massu said. “I contacted the Federation and they asked me if I wanted to take on the role. I told them I did, that I loved the idea of being Davis Cup captain. It’s a huge motivation for me and at this time it’s an important challenge for me because I think I’m still quite young, I’m only 33.”
Massu, a double Olympic champion in Athens in 2004, played 56 Davis Cup rubbers, finishing with 32 wins and 24 defeats, and reached the World Group quarterfinals on two occasions (2006 and 2010).
Former world No. 1 Rios will take up the role of technical coach and has said that his job will be to focus specifically on developing the talent of up-and-coming Chileans.
“I want to start from scratch, at the very bottom, work our way up and I hope we will be able to reach the World Group and go further than I did,” declared the new technical coach. “Perhaps, one day we might win the Davis Cup. Why not?”
Rios was a renowned Davis Cup player with 28 wins from 45 rubbers. Rios, who was a finalist at the Australian Open in 1998, revealed that since he retired his objective has been to rebuild Chilean tennis from the ground up, working with young players and that this is the perfect time to make the changes a reality.
Massu, like Rios, wants to point out that this is a long-term project with the young players acting as a cornerstone without forgetting that putting excessive pressure on the young players to succeed can end up being counterproductive. For the new captain, long-term results are more important than short-term ones.
“You have to keep 16 and 17 year olds calm, help them, don’t demand too much straight away, and little by little they will progress and improve,” Massu said. “I hope that we perform better than we did but obviously, for the most part they are 17-year-old boys. This is a long-term goal and we are going to try to teach them everything we know. I hope we will be able to start winning straight away against Barbados but, if that’s not the case, I hope it remains clear that we are building for the future.”
For their next Davis Cup tie, Chile will have to travel to Barbados for the first round of Americas Zone Group II on 31 January – 2 February 2014.
“The important thing is to get out of our group as quickly as possible, get back to Group I where the players can grow and, as Marcelo said, in the future, progress to the World Group,” concluded the new captain.