If you follow on Twitter, you already knew Ottawa was the leader in the clubhouse to host Canada’s Davis Cup tie vs. Great Britain in February.
It was confirmed Tuesday, sort of.
Tennis Canada announced a press conference to be held at TD Place in Ottawa Wednesday. Given Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau and Daniel Nestor will be on hand, it’s not too difficult to add one and one and make two.
At the conference, they will make a “special event announcement.”
Since the Canadian senior nationals took place in Ottawa back in August, that’s probably not it. 🙂
The first-round World Group tie will take place right after the Australian Open, Feb. 3-5, 2017 and is expected to played in the Arena at TD place, also known as the home of the OHL’s Ottawa 67s. It was also the early home of the NHL Senators for the first three years of the franchise’s existence, before the new arena was built. (I was working for the Ottawa Citizen during those years; NHL games in that tiny place were a trip)
There are 67s home games scheduled at the arena on both the Friday and the Sunday, so those will have to be moved or re-scheduled. There don’t appear to be any conflicts during the week preceding the tie, when the court has to be built and the practices held. There is a home date on Sunday, Jan. 29.
Once again, Toronto has been bypassed as the site of a tie, even though Canadian No. 1 Milos Raonic has always lobbied hard for it. Tennis Canada tends to want to spread the tennis around the country – hence the multiple ties in Vancouver, which has always been a terrific host.
That policy doesn’t extend to the women’s version; the Fed Cup ties have mostly been hosted in Montreal and Quebec City in recent years, which both are well-served with the Rogers Cup during the summer and the Coupe Banque Nationale in September.
The last time Ottawa hosted a Davis Cup tie was all the way back in 1994, when Jamaica visited the Ottawa Athletic Club (I was there, having worked for the Ottawa Citizen for a couple years right out of university) – and I’m just remembering this RIGHT NOW.
You know who else was there? Current Rogers Cup Toronto tournament director Karl Hale. 🙂
Oh, and some 21-year-old named Daniel Nestor who managed a pretty decent game of singles.
Doug Burke, who also spent many years in Toronto and captained the team, was a former coach of Nestor. It was pretty much an all-Canadian tie, all the way down in the Americas Zone, Group 2. This will be a couple of big steps up from that.
Before that, we’re talking two ties back-to-back in late October/early November 1976 (if you go way back in Canadian tennis, names like Jim Boyce, Réjean Genois and the immortal Dale Power will ring a bell). They were technically preliminaries for the 1977 Davis Cup campaign.
Before that? An Americas zone quarter-final against Cuba in the summer of … 1924.
Now, the big questions:
1) Will Andy Murray play?
2) Will Milos Raonic play?
The new world No. 1’s efforts in Davis Cup the last two years, culminating in winning the big silver chalice in 2015 and dropping a heartbreaker to Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals this year, would seem to indicate that he has done his job and would focus on narrowing his 2017 schedule to maintain his No. 1 position. But that’s hardly carved in stone; according to published reports in the U.K., Murray hasn’t ruled out playing – at least not yet.
If he reaches the Australian Open final or even wins it for the first time, with the rough turnaround to get to Canada for the tie, that might have an impact.
As for Raonic, he ruled himself out of both of Canada’s ties in 2016 because of injury. An adductor issue suffered in Australia meant he couldn’t answer the call against France in Guadeloupe some five weeks later for the World Group first-round matchup, won 5-0 by France. A ramping situation during a second-round loss to American Ryan Harrison at the US Open in early September meant he couldn’t join the team as it swept Chile in Halifax in a World Group playoff tie a few weeks later.
Doubles legend Daniel Nestor also missed both 2016 ties.