Donald Young will make his Davis Cup debut against Andy Murray in the first singles match.
© Ron Angle
Sam Querrey, the No. 1 singles player for the U.S., will face James Ward in the second singles match.
© Ron Angle
By Sandra Harwitt, special to USTA.com
This weekend Donald Young is going from the minor leagues to the majors at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.
Young isn’t a baseball player and he won’t be rounding the bases. But over on the red clay tennis court that was built in left field, Young will make his Davis Cup debut when the U.S. faces Great Britain in this first-round tie.
Young’s appeared at previous Davis Cup ties as a practice partner for the U.S. But with America’s top player John Isner hobbled by left shin tendinitis, the 79th-ranked Young will finally get his turn to compete, taking on reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the opening match of the weekend.
“I just want to go out there and play well and hopefully get a win for the team,” said Young, who received a call from Davis Cup captain Jim Courier last week. Courier painted a clear picture for Young in that phone call, telling him that officially he was coming to practice with the team but that in all likelihood he would see action.
“We called Donald last week and let him know that we would like him to be here with the team, and that it was pretty likely that he going to be playing,” Courier said during the draw press conference at The Prada in San Diego’s Balboa Park on Thursday afternoon.
In the second match on Friday, the 49th-ranked Sam Querrey, a native of Southern California, and now playing the No. 1 position for the U.S., will face the 175th-ranked James Ward. On Sunday, the two No. 1s will play their match first with Young and Ward pulling up the rear in the fifth match.
“I think whether you’re in the No. 1 or the No. 2 spot or doubles, it’s all the same,” Querrey said. “Every point is worth the same amount, and we’re out here to get three points.”
On Saturday it will be the always reliable Bryan brothers – Bob has a 21-4 Davis Cup record while Mike is 22-4 – slated to take on Murray and Colin Fleming.
It came as no secret that British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith would opt to play Murray in three matches if that was possible. According to Murray, who had back surgery last September, he’s ready to play the three consecutive days if necessary.
“I obviously want to win as many matches as possible,” Murray said. “I’ll try to win as many points as I can. If I’m required to play all three days, I’ll give it my best shot.”
Smith selected Ward to play his second singles slot, feeling that Ward practiced well on the clay court during the week. Up-and-coming 19-year-old Kyle Edmund was considered to play in second singles but withdrew from the tie and doubles specialist Dominic Inglot replaced him on the roster.
Picking a clay court is something of a departure for the Americans, but Courier said it was an easy decision to reach.
“We chose clay after consulting with the players when we found out we were hosting Great Britain,” Courier said. “Clay was the unanimous decision. We like to play on that surface. Thought it gave us the best chance.”
Traditionally, the U.S. has had good results playing Davis Cup on clay; they’ve played 89 ties on the surface for a 63-26 win-loss record. The Brits haven’t fared too badly on clay either, having played 104 Davis Cup ties on dirt for a 62-42 win-loss record.
No other nations can go back as far together as the U.S. and Britain in Davis Cup competition. It was the two nations that vied for the first-ever Davis Cup title in 1900 – the U.S. won that initial outing, 3-0. Overall, the two nations have played 18 times in Davis Cup, with the U.S. winning 11 of those encounters. The last time they played was on British soil – in Birmingham, England, in 1999 – Courier defeated Greg Rusedski in the fifth-and-decisive rubber in a first-round encounter.
“We’re excited to be part of this rich history between the U.S. and Great Britain,” said Bob Bryan.
The U.S. has won a record 32 Davis Cup titles, with its last victory coming in 2007 against Russia. Great Britain has won the Cup on nine occasions, with its last victory back in 1936.