By Sandra Harwitt in Boise
Bob and Mike Bryan were honoured on Sunday morning at the Taco Bell Arena with the much-coveted Davis Cup Commitment Award.
This award is a new ITF honour that was developed to coincide with this the ITF’s 2013 Centenary celebrations. To receive the Davis Cup Commitment award a dedication to Davis Cup involvement in a minimum of playing 20 home-and-away ties or 50 ties at any level of Davis Cup is required.
The Bryans, who boast a 20-4 record in Davis Cup doubles together, were presented with their award by ITF Board member Roman Murashovsky and USTA president Dave Haggerty.
“Davis Cup has been a big part of our career and our life and it really inspired us to play this game at 10 years old,” Bob Bryan said.“We couldn’t do it without a lot of people, my dad over there. Patrick McEnroe and Jim Courier and all of our teammates. And our fans, especially all you guys.”
“Bob pretty much said it all,” Mike Bryan added. “We were inspired to play tennis by Davis Cup when we were 10 years old [they attended a Davis Cup tie]. We fell in love with the game that day and we’re very lucky to be able to play for our country. We have our greatest memories playing for the stars and stripes.”
Astana: a city of contrast
By Stuart Fraser in Astana
Once billed by CNN as “The World’s Weirdest Capital City”, Astana is surely one of the most unique Davis Cup host cities.
Since Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev moved the capital from Almaty to Astana in 1997, the city has grown rapidly with the population doubling to 750,000 as stunning new buildings pop up across the area.
One person who has seen the remarkable change in the city over the past few years is International Tennis Federation President Francesco Ricci Bitti, who attended the Kazakhstan vs Czech Republic tie this weekend, five years after visiting Astana for a meeting with local government and tennis officials.
“It is unbelievable,” said Ricci Bitti. “At that time [in 2008], there were three icons: the Presidential Palace, the Norman Foster designed Pyramid and the Bayterek Tower, but the city was much smaller and has now developed.
“Now they have the new mosque, which is a little bit like the Taj Mahal. They built a new trading centre, then they built everywhere.”
Ricci Bitti is hugely impressed by the growth of tennis in Kazakhstan with new tennis centres being built across the country to complement the impressive National Tennis Centre in Astana.
“Bulat Utemuratov [the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation President] is a man who clearly has a vision and clearly he knows what to do to develop tennis,” he said. “He has concentrated on what I call the three Cs: competition, coaching and courts. He is building more facilities, he is encouraging programmes in the school with coaching courses and he is arranging a very good circuit of junior competitions.
“The geography of sport is changing,” Ricci Bitti added. “We have to go where these people are trying to develop new activities. It is very important.”
By Sandra Harwitt in Boise
Not surprisingly, there are many studies around the grand USA that have identified Boise, Idaho as one of the more livable cities in the country.
The city comes with a small town feel, yet a very urban persona, which appeals to a variety of people with varied interests.
It seems as if the large majority of adults we’ve run into during our stay in Boise have migrated to this Northwest city from other parts of the country. And all report they’re happy with the Boise lifestyle.
However, there does seem to be one prevailing nuisance that people point out as a Boise negative: Goose Poop.
The influx of Canadian Geese, who have headquartered themselves in the city parks -there’s over 20 miles of path along the Boise River for walkers, runners and bikers - tend to make hanging on the grass an impossibility for humans.
Craig Gabriel, the ITF’s intrepid man on the scene in Boise, the self-proclaimed Multi-Media Mega Star, has the perfect solution for the grief the geese are causing: “Export industry: foie gras.”
Some might think that Gabriel’s entrepreneurial approach is smart. But the U.S. Federal Government would think otherwise as the Canadian Geese is a protected migratory bird