Davis Cup returning to Birmingham in February

Davis Cup returning to Birmingham in February
Davis Cup tennis, which drew fans from 30 states to Birmingham in 2009, is coming back in February. (Contributed)

Davis Cup tennis returns to the Deep South early next year, and it’s coming back to the same address.

The United States Tennis Association announced Thursday at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame that Team USA will open play in the 2017 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

That first-round tie will be against Switzerland Feb. 3-5, 2017.

Coincidentally, the same teams faced one another in 2009 in Birmingham.

“We loved Birmingham the last time we were here,” said Jeff Ryan, senior director of USA Team Events for the USTA. “Players talk about it. We liked the atmosphere and it helped us win last time, so why can’t it happen again?”

Davis Cup returns to Birmingham from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The big rematch

Gene Hallman said he and his Bruno Event Team have been trying to get the Davis Cup back to Birmingham since hosting the tie in 2009.

“It was so successful,” he said. “We sold tickets in 30 states, and we anticipate that happening again.”

Andy Roddick called the 2009 Davis Cup tie between the United States and Switzerland the best Davis Cup tie in which he had ever played.

“Of course, they had just won,” Hallman recalled, “but that’s our goal again, to rally the community, show our Southern hospitality, show our patriotic nature, support the U.S. team to victory and have everyone leave saying that was a great experience.”

While the same countries will play one another, the U.S. team will be much different, as Roddick and James Blake have retired.

“Things have changed since that last time,” Ryan said. “There’s a whole new crop of young, very accomplished American players out there.”

Potential team members

Top Americans who could take the court include former University of Georgia standout John Isner, who is ranked No. 19 on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour.

Jack Sock, who teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to win gold in mixed doubles in the Rio Olympics, is ranked No. 23. Other top Americans are No. 31 Sam Querrey, No. 33 Steve Johnson and No. 70 Taylor Fritz.

Team USA could also include the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.

Switzerland’s top players are former world No. 1 Roger Federer and current world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. Federer missed the 2009 tie in Birmingham because of injury. He has not played since losing to Canada’s Milos Raonic in the semifinals of Wimbledon to rehab his surgically repaired knee.

Team captains will name the members of their teams no less than 10 days before the tie. Jim Courier, a former world No. 1 player, is captain of the U.S. squad.

Hallman said his aim is to give the Americans a huge home court advantage. Toward that end, he hopes to tap into the membership of the USTA Southern Section, perhaps the largest of the USTA’s 17 sections with 178,000 members.

“It’s fantastic for the city and fantastic for Alabama,” said Elaine Francis, executive director of USTA Alabama. “It will increase, we hope, our tennis-playing public when they can see what fun it is and how much enjoyment they get from it.”

USTA members get the first chance to buy tickets with a presale event Dec. 7-8. Three-day tickets, ranging from $90 to $500, go on sale Dec. 9 through Jan. 5.

Depending on availability, single-day tickets go on sale on Friday, Jan. 6. Those tickets will be $40 to $175.

Tickets are available at www.usta.com/daviscup or by calling 888-484-USTA.

Related Stories