Davis Cup Tennis San Diego 2014
After the match, the courtside interviewer asked Murray whether he thought Great Britain had a chance of lifting the Davis Cup in November.
“It’s obviously a goal, ” he replied. “This is the first time I’ve been involved when we’ve had a chance of winning the competition. It’s obviously going to be extremely tough but we have a great team spirit, we’ve won a lot over the last few years, hopefully we can keep it going.”
On a day when the Superbowl dominated the American sporting agenda, there were a few empty seats visible within the handsome 8, 000-seat arena that has been purpose-built within Petco Park – the home stadium of the San Diego Padres baseball team.
But the atmosphere was vibrant as the majority cheered every point claimed by a resurgent Querrey, while over 100 travelling British fans – many of them draped in Union Jacks – managed to put up an enthusiastic response of their own.
The British assistant coach Nick Weal could barely speak by the end of the match, after three days of exhortation, while the Duchess of Gloucester – the Lawn Tennis Association’s honorary president – came dressed in a tartan scarf to salute the Scottish contribution from Messrs Murray, Smith and Colin Fleming.
“It feels amazing, ” said Smith. “You just think back a few years ago, to a half empty Eastbourne stadium, when we were close to going down to one of the lowest tiers of the division. Then you’re suddenly in this environment here. It doesn’t get much better than this, but the job’s not done for this campaign. We can look forward to a quarter-final match and I don’t think we would have been saying that a few years ago.”
That relegation play-off in Eastbourne – against Turkey in August 2010 – was the first tie that Smith supervised, and it is impossible to overstate his contribution over the past three-and-a-half years. He is a smart tennis tactician, but his real gift is for dealing with people.
You only have to look at the way the two teams have fronted up this weekend. The Americans have given the impression of a group who barely know each other – with the exception of the Bryan twins, of course – while the British come across like a bunch of mates at a college reunion.
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