August 9, 2004

From One Capitol To Another

Aug. 9, 2004

Following the National Clay Court Championships in Washington D.C. I packed my bags and headed south to the Junior Davis Cup. Formerly known as Intersectionals, Davis Cup was held on the campus of the University of South Carolina, home of the Gamecocks and reknown football coach, Lou Holtz. The event featured seventeen teams from each section of the United States Tennis Association ("USTA"). Included were Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Southwest, Intermountain, Missouri Valley, Texas, Midwest, Northern, Mid-Atlantic, Middle States, Southern, Florida, Eastern, New England and Carribean. Teams carried six players competing in five singles and two doubles matches. Each match was worth one point with the winning team ultimately tallying four or more wins. The event was of particular interest as it gave college coaches the opportunity to watch prospects compete in a team environment, a significant difference from the standard, individual-based tournaments. The Gamecock campus is located in Columbia, South Carolina. The state's capitol, Columbia is rich with history dating back to the 1700's. A large collection of churches and traditional brick architechture lined the city streets, as the hot and humid weather resulted in lots of sweat and dirty laundry. Unlike Washington D.C., there wasn't much traffic in Columbia,which gave the town a more mellow mood. And the southern hospitality welcomed and greeted visitors with smiles and comments such as "How y'all doin?" or "Y'all come back and visit us." The recruiting plan focused on a selection of sectional teams. It was nice to see familiar faces again, but this time they represented their region and battled on the courts as a team. I focused quite a bit on this element as comradiery and teamwork were learned and instilled in the Santa Clara tennis program. Future Bronco teams would need individuals who relished and thrived in this culture. Being from the San Francisco Bay Area, I had a little natural bias towards Team Norcal, while a future Bronco from the Pacific Northwest team battled throughout the event while sporting his Santa Clara gear with pride. In addition to these teams, interested Santa Clara prospects hailed from Team Southern, Intermountain, Florida and Midwest. Team Southern was the defending champion, however it was Southern California that was awarded the No. 1 seed. Texas was No. 2, followed by Florida and Southern in the No. 3 and 4 slots. One of the event's surprises occurred on Day 1 as the Pacific Northwest upset Team Midwest, the 2002 champion. Team PNW pulled off a come-from-behind 4-3 victory after trailing 6-3 in the deciding doubles match (8-game pro-set). They followed up that result with another stunner on the final day, defeating Florida by a similiar 4-3 margin. A fair amount of coaches attended Junior Davis Cup to witness and take note of how the players competed in a team environment. After all, the future for many of these young athletes consisted of representing their school of choice in many battles over a four-year collegiate career. Each team seemed to have their own distinctive personality. Whether it was through loud and passionate cheers of encouragement, fashionable sleeveless uniform tops, long bleached locks under ballcaps or cool, calm and confident composure, the goal was to fight for each other regardless of ranking, seeding or the very humid conditions. In the end, Southern California defeated Texas 6-1 for the 2004 championship, while Team Southern squeeked out a win over the Missouri Valley for 3rd. The "cup" was to return to the West Coast for a year before things got rolling again next summer. The week was filled with solid competition, further evaluation and lots of heat. Continued inroads were made with recruits as the list of potential Broncos grew stronger. A couple loads of laundry were necessary before heading to Charlotte, North Carolina to catch a flight for the final event. The "Nats at the Zoo" (National Hardcourt Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan) were next on the schedule as the "Bronco Recruiting Road Rules" continued.