By Sandra Harwitt in Austin
The draw ceremony for the USA v Spain World Group quarterfinal tie in Austin, Texas, was one of the more entertaining Davis Cup experiences.
The intriguing event was held at Austin City Limits – it’s a brand new theater – and came complete with a concert by Grammy-winning artists “Asleep at the Wheel” before the draw ceremony commenced.
Tennis fans filled the place to see the concert and to observe the draw ceremony and following press conferences. Draw ceremonies usually don’t come complete with concerts, and the public is not usually accorded the privilege of attending.
But it was what we learned about Andy Roddick that really made the event special.
Prior to the draw ceremony we had a particularly unique introduction to Karon Wheeless. Who would she be? Well now that you ask, she would be Andy Roddick’s second grade teacher at Valley View elementary school in Austin.
She was brought on stage for a short interview and revealed to the crowd that at times during class, Roddick would go to the back of the room and do practice forehand and backhand shadow swings.
“He was a good kid,” Wheeless later told the DavisCup.com blog. “He’s one of those you remember. I think I’m going to get to see him later.”
When Roddick was asked what he remembered of the second grade teacher, he offered a public statement of gratitude, “Thank you for teaching me how to read. That was great of you. It’s served me very well. Appreciate it. I don’t lose in Scrabble.” Yes, he got a big laugh.
After everything was over, Wheeless did indeed have a backstage reunion with her favorite teacher’s pet. He recognized her as soon as she walked towards him, and quickly embraced her in a hug, and posed for a few personal photos.
Wheeless then revealed to DC.com just how Roddick learned to read, which he confirmed: “He would bring his baseball cards to class and he learned to read by reading them.”
According to Roddick he believes he still has those baseball cards at his house in Boca Raton, Florida.
Warm up with wine
By Maximiliano Boso in Buenos Aires
In Argentina, the answer to keeping warm in the winter could be in drinking a good bottle of Malbec.
For the most part, the winters in Buenos Aires are pretty mild. But, as if on cue, the temperatures decided to dip just in time for Davis Cup to come to town.
The cold weather is an issue in Buenos Aires for both teams, which is understandable because the temperatures are in the low 50s during the day.
First request of the Argentine team when they started training: woolly hats and neck gaiters for the morning sessions.
First request of the Kazakhstani team: woolly hats, neck gaiters and also woolly tights.
Undoubtedly, the Kazakhs were more surprised and upset by the weather (it wouldn’t be appropriate to retell what Evgeny Korolev said about it) than the Argentines. That seemed surprising because they are used to far more frigid winters in Kazakhstan or Russia, where team members were born and raised.
Yegor Shaldunov, Kazakhstan’s captain, said during the official dinner: “I thank everybody for the warming welcome. We are very happy to be here despite the cold weather. But the truth is that our own winter is harder than this one, with temperatures as low as 12 or 13 degrees Celsius. So, at the end, is not that hard.”
In this sense, Argentina’s captain, Tito Vazquez, came up with an interesting recommendation during his speech the same evening. “We’re going to sleep in a few minutes, if you don’t mind, but you can stay longer and enjoy the good red wine,” he said, with a smile.
After all that was said, everybody welcomed the sun today and the decision of the referee to start an hour later. But the players took their precautions: In the first match, Monaco and Golubev wore long sleeve shirts under their competition ones, just in case.
By Chris Bowers in Stuttgart
It's hard to be in Stuttgart and not to think of cars, a point made by French Davis Cup captain Guy Forget and French Tennis Federation President Jean Gachassin in their speeches at Wednesday night's official dinner for the Germany v France World Group quarterfinal.
Forget, speaking in the city that is home to Porsche and Mercedes, felt compelled to make the point that the French also make nice cars. Nevertheless, Forget confessed his need to compliment French car makers was partially motivated by the fact that his team generally drives German cars.
In his speech, Gachassin made note that he had heard about Stuttgart's reputation for giving the winner of its tournament a Porsche. “In conclusion,” said Gachassin, “I'd like to thank the Davis Cup's title sponsor BNP Paribas, all the other Davis Cup sponsors, and special thanks in advance to Porsche for the car I'm sure they're going to give us when we win this weekend.”
Elementary, dear Llodra
By Chris Bowers in Stuttgart
Always up for a bit of fun, Michael Llodra turned up at the official dinner in Stuttgart with the beginnings of a Sherlock Holmes-style side whiskers and moustache combo.
With his matinee idol looks, Llodra only needs to lets his facial hair grow a little, get hold of a deerstalker hat, and he would be perfect for the role of Holmes, or perhaps Dr Watson.
Alas, he looks set to be clean-shaven for Saturday's doubles.