U.S. DAVIS CUP TEAM
ADDS FORMER PRO GINEPRI AS COACH
Pat Mitsch | January 31, 2018
NIS, Serbia – There’s a new face on the bench of the U.S. Davis Cup Team, but rarely does a new face look and feel so familiar.
Robby Ginepri is the new coach for captain Jim Courier’s Davis Cup squad, rejoining the team in the role long held by Jay Berger, who left his posts as Davis Cup coach and head of men’s tennis for USTA Player Development to go into private coaching last year.
The 35-year-old Georgian’s first tie as a coach officially begins Friday, when the U.S. and Serbia square off in the World Group first round in Nis, Serbia. But when practice began Tuesday on the red clay court inside the Sportski Centar Cair, Ginepri took the court, racquet in hand, and began to deploy his coaching acumen developed over the last three years since officially ending a 15-year playing career in 2015.
“When I first started playing, Jim was the assistant (under then-captain Patrick McEnroe), and I’m now taking his position.
It comes back full circle, which is unique,” Ginepri said. “Any time you get around these guys, the fellowship and the camaraderie, you couldn’t change it for the world.”
Though he only officially played in one tie, Ginepri is undefeated in Davis Cup. He kicked off the Americans’ 2004 campaign with a five-set victory over Jurgen Melzer in the first match of an eventual 5-0 drubbing of Austria at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and he won the dead fifth singles match over Stefan Koubek in straight sets.
Though Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and Bob and Mike Bryan carried the U.S. to the final against Spain that year, Ginepri (pictured above) stayed close to the team. He and Fish served as hitting partners when the U.S. won its 32nd and last Davis Cup title in 2007, and Ginepri joined the celebration on court when the Bryan brothers cinched victory in Portland.
“It’s good to be back in the action, and it’s a good change of pace being on the other side of the net,” Ginepri said. “The toughest thing is just articulating what came so natural and easy for me in my head and explaining it to the younger guys out there.”
Ginepri ascended as high as No. 15 in the world as a player, won three ATP titles and famously reached the semifinals of the 2005 US Open, where he lost to Andre Agassi in five sets.
Shortly after he retired from playing in 2015, he started his Ginepri Performance Tennis Academy in Marietta, Ga., and was tabbed by USTA Player Development general manager Martin Blackman to serve as a traveling coach for many of the up-and-coming American men.
He started studying tennis like he never had before, watching film and putting in 12-hour days at the USTA Pro Circuit and Challenger level, coaching the likes of Stefan Kozlov, Mitchell Krueger, Noah Rubin, Sekou Bangoura and, of course, Frances Tiafoe, with whom he continues to work.
As such, when Courier began looking for Berger’s successor, the fit was natural.
“He’s been coaching now for several years, so he knows how to speak to players. He knows about the different stressful situations they’ve been in,” Courier said. “He also knows a lot of these guys – he’s friendly with them. He’s played in Davis Cup, so he understands the scenarios. There will be an instant level of trust the players have with him because of all those factors.
“There’s a real easy fit for him to come into this team,” Courier added. “Jay Berger has been the coach of this team forever, so we thought long and hard, and I consulted with the players in depth about who would fit this role best and be the right person for it. Robby checks all the boxes, and we’re happy to have him.”