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Datacipher
11-13-2004, 04:54 PM
Tennis Week:

"Obviously, the chemistry of our team is very good and it's been successful to this point," McEnroe said. "To turn around and change at this point makes no sense in my mind. You're certainly entitled to disagree and he's certainly entitled to state his case."

Spadea counters that each Davis Cup tie is, in effect, a new tournament and the very fact that the Davis Cup format requires countries to select a squad before each tie compels captains to pick the best players for that tie.

"As for the argument that another legitimate factor in the selection process should be sticking with the team that got you to the final, that contention holds no merit whatsoever," Spadea told Tennis Week. "If that were the way the process was meant to work, then team selections would occur only once a year on January 1. We all know that is not the structure of the selection process, and that in fact, selections are made before each Davis Cup match. The only logical explanation for that structure is to allow countries to pick the best players at the time the selections are made."

Despite their Davis Cup differences, McEnroe and Spadea share a common history. Both are sons of attorneys, both spent their formative in large cities, both were highly successful junior players, both based their games on penetrating two-handed backhands and both are opinionated, intelligent individuals.

"My best years were late so I have a real understanding of what he's been able to do, particularly with not having all the natural game," McEnroe said of Spadea. "He's a workhorse and so I have a lot of respect for what he's done."

An arm-chair analyst might conclude McEnroe sees some of himself in Spadea. And as a man who grew up under the same roof as one of the game's most gifted players he recognizes the power of potential and simply feels more confident going with a player who has yet to fully tap his talent than a player who may well have maximized his own talent.

"I believe Mardy has the best chance to win the match, based on his ability, based on his experience playing Davis Cup, based on the fact he played well in the Olympics, he's played well in some big, big matches for us," McEnroe said."I still believe Mardy's got a tremendous upside as far as his career goes. And I think he's got a lot of game. I don't think he's lived up to his potential yet."

The 30-year-old Spadea feels he's trapped in a Catch-22: he has been bypassed for players with more Davis Cup experience, yet Spadea himself cannot gain Davis Cup experience if he is not selected to the team in the first place.

Spadea has invested an immense amount of time, effort and sweat into clawing his way back from the brink of oblivion when he suffered an ATP Tour record 21 straight losses and fell so far off the radar he was reduced to playing challengers to this year when he captured his first career tournament title and produced the best year of his career. Understandably, Spadea believes he has paid his dues, kept his end of the bargain and has rightfully earned his right to represent his country. To be rewarded for his efforts with another Davis Cup rejection is a bit like spending a year working on commission only to be presented with a promissory note and watch as a colleague gains the promotion he's worked for.

There's no question Fish has the ability to compete with just about anyone on the planet not named Federer (then again, Fish was the only man to take a set off Federer at Wimbledon 2003), the question is he fit, fast and focused enough to win against two former top-ranked French Open champions?

McEnroe believes he is and has compelling statistics to support his case. Fish is undefeated against probable Spanish singles starters Moya and Ferrero, while Spadea is winless against the pair. Additionally, Fish's victory over Karol Kucera in the 2003 World Group Players on red clay essentially saved the U.S. from falling out of the World Group. McEnroe believes without Fish's contributions, the United States wouldn't be in the final in the first place.

"I have to pick guys who I feel are best prepared to play on particular surfaces," McEnroe said. "The morale of the team is important. Match-ups, the fact that Mardy has matched up well with these guys, on different surfaces, but I watched him play Moya at the Australian and that was pretty slow conditions. I watched him play Ferrero at the Olympics. I mean, that's not a guarantee that he's going to win, but that helps."

The implication with Fish the best is yet to come and with Spadea this season may just be as good as it's ever going to get.

Spadea states sports isn't about speculation it's about results. And just as results are a direct representation of wins and losses, Spadea asserts that a selection process which is not based on rankings and results is inherently unfair and potentially discriminatory. At the core of Spadea's contention is how can a country field its best team if the captain does not select the best players according to the rankings?

"The USTA's goal in selecting a team for Davis Cup should be to assemble the best players available and field the strongest team possible," Spadea told Tennis Week. "That is never going to happen as long as the selection process involves the consideration of irrelevant and unjust factors like age or friendships. As for age, if it were a legitimate basis upon which to measure a player's ability then logically all of the players younger than me, including Fish and Dent, would be ranked ahead of me. They are not. In fact, at No. 19 in the world, there are few that are. You cannot argue with the rankings. You can ignore them, and offer other illegitimate reasons for selecting lower ranked players, but that does not change the fact that the rankings objectively, without regard to bias or personal preference, determine who the best players are."

A primary part of the Davis Cup captain's job is to use his judgment to choose the players who will give his team the best chance to win. McEnroe believes taking that responsibility out of the captain's hands and placing it on the hard drive of the computer rankings would not only be restrictive, it would be senseless. Theoretically, such a system could limit a captain's ability to adjust his team based on variables such as surface, match-ups with opposing players and potential parings in doubles. It could also leave a nation vulnerable should one of its top players sustain an injury. For instance, if injuries sidelined the current corps of American starters next year and prevented them from defending ranking points, McEnroe might be forced to field a team of Kevin Kim, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., Glenn Weiner and Paul Goldstein — all currently ranked between 102-135 — rather than Roddick, Fish and the Bryan brothers.

Ask McEnroe what he thinks of adopting a ranking-based selection system and he looks at you like you've just asked permission to perform root canal surgery on him with a rusty pair of pliers.

"No, that's absolutely never going to happen," McEnroe said. "Absolutely not. It will certainly never happen as long as I'm the captain."

The possibility of Spadea playing Davis Cup during McEnroe's tenure is not nearly as definitive.

Asked if he was concerned his public stance could diminish his prospects of being picked to play Davis Cup for the future, Spadea said he's willing to take that personal risk to take a stand on principle.

"I am not concerned about how articulating my thoughts on Pat McEnroe's selection process will affect my future chances of being named to the team because this is an issue of principle for me," Spadea told Tennis Week. "It is unfortunate, on a personal level, that in this instance the bias in his process is adversely affecting me. But the bigger picture is that it will continue to hurt other players, the overall strength of the team, and the integrity of the sport in the United States if the Davis Cup captain continues to base his selections on all factors other than performance and ranking. It is patently wrong to discriminate based on age in any professional environment. Further, to allow off court factors and personal preferences, rather than players' rankings and records, to dictate the Davis Cup selections is wrong. I know it and anyone who understands sports knows it. I feel compelled to speak out against the blatant unfairness of the selection process and I would never regret calling it as I, and most others, see it."

"Obviously, the chemistry of our team is very good and it's been successful to this point," McEnroe said. "To turn around and change at this point makes no sense in my mind. You're certainly entitled to disagree and he's certainly entitled to state his case."

Spadea counters that each Davis Cup tie is, in effect, a new tournament and the very fact that the Davis Cup format requires countries to select a squad before each tie compels captains to pick the best players for that tie.

"As for the argument that another legitimate factor in the selection process should be sticking with the team that got you to the final, that contention holds no merit whatsoever," Spadea told Tennis Week. "If that were the way the process was meant to work, then team selections would occur only once a year on January 1. We all know that is not the structure of the selection process, and that in fact, selections are made before each Davis Cup match. The only logical explanation for that structure is to allow countries to pick the best players at the time the selections are made."

Despite their Davis Cup differences, McEnroe and Spadea share a common history. Both are sons of attorneys, both spent their formative in large cities, both were highly successful junior players, both based their games on penetrating two-handed backhands and both are opinionated, intelligent individuals.

"My best years were late so I have a real understanding of what he's been able to do, particularly with not having all the natural game," McEnroe said of Spadea. "He's a workhorse and so I have a lot of respect for what he's done."

An arm-chair analyst might conclude McEnroe sees some of himself in Spadea. And as a man who grew up under the same roof as one of the game's most gifted players he recognizes the power of potential and simply feels more confident going with a player who has yet to fully tap his talent than a player who may well have maximized his own talent.

"I believe Mardy has the best chance to win the match, based on his ability, based on his experience playing Davis Cup, based on the fact he played well in the Olympics, he's played well in some big, big matches for us," McEnroe said."I still believe Mardy's got a tremendous upside as far as his career goes. And I think he's got a lot of game. I don't think he's lived up to his potential yet."

The 30-year-old Spadea feels he's trapped in a Catch-22: he has been bypassed for players with more Davis Cup experience, yet Spadea himself cannot gain Davis Cup experience if he is not selected to the team in the first place.

Spadea has invested an immense amount of time, effort and sweat into clawing his way back from the brink of oblivion when he suffered an ATP Tour record 21 straight losses and fell so far off the radar he was reduced to playing challengers to this year when he captured his first career tournament title and produced the best year of his career. Understandably, Spadea believes he has paid his dues, kept his end of the bargain and has rightfully earned his right to represent his country. To be rewarded for his efforts with another Davis Cup rejection is a bit like spending a year working on commission only to be presented with a promissory note and watch as a colleague gains the promotion he's worked for.

There's no question Fish has the ability to compete with just about anyone on the planet not named Federer (then again, Fish was the only man to take a set off Federer at Wimbledon 2003), the question is he fit, fast and focused enough to win against two former top-ranked French Open champions?

McEnroe believes he is and has compelling statistics to support his case. Fish is undefeated against probable Spanish singles starters Moya and Ferrero, while Spadea is winless against the pair. Additionally, Fish's victory over Karol Kucera in the 2003 World Group Players on red clay essentially saved the U.S. from falling out of the World Group. McEnroe believes without Fish's contributions, the United States wouldn't be in the final in the first place.

"I have to pick guys who I feel are best prepared to play on particular surfaces," McEnroe said. "The morale of the team is important. Match-ups, the fact that Mardy has matched up well with these guys, on different surfaces, but I watched him play Moya at the Australian and that was pretty slow conditions. I watched him play Ferrero at the Olympics. I mean, that's not a guarantee that he's going to win, but that helps."

The implication with Fish the best is yet to come and with Spadea this season may just be as good as it's ever going to get.

Spadea states sports isn't about speculation it's about results. And just as results are a direct representation of wins and losses, Spadea asserts that a selection process which is not based on rankings and results is inherently unfair and potentially discriminatory. At the core of Spadea's contention is how can a country field its best team if the captain does not select the best players according to the rankings?

"The USTA's goal in selecting a team for Davis Cup should be to assemble the best players available and field the strongest team possible," Spadea told Tennis Week. "That is never going to happen as long as the selection process involves the consideration of irrelevant and unjust factors like age or friendships. As for age, if it were a legitimate basis upon which to measure a player's ability then logically all of the players younger than me, including Fish and Dent, would be ranked ahead of me. They are not. In fact, at No. 19 in the world, there are few that are. You cannot argue with the rankings. You can ignore them, and offer other illegitimate reasons for selecting lower ranked players, but that does not change the fact that the rankings objectively, without regard to bias or personal preference, determine who the best players are."

A primary part of the Davis Cup captain's job is to use his judgment to choose the players who will give his team the best chance to win. McEnroe believes taking that responsibility out of the captain's hands and placing it on the hard drive of the computer rankings would not only be restrictive, it would be senseless. Theoretically, such a system could limit a captain's ability to adjust his team based on variables such as surface, match-ups with opposing players and potential parings in doubles. It could also leave a nation vulnerable should one of its top players sustain an injury. For instance, if injuries sidelined the current corps of American starters next year and prevented them from defending ranking points, McEnroe might be forced to field a team of Kevin Kim, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., Glenn Weiner and Paul Goldstein — all currently ranked between 102-135 — rather than Roddick, Fish and the Bryan brothers.

Ask McEnroe what he thinks of adopting a ranking-based selection system and he looks at you like you've just asked permission to perform root canal surgery on him with a rusty pair of pliers.

"No, that's absolutely never going to happen," McEnroe said. "Absolutely not. It will certainly never happen as long as I'm the captain."

The possibility of Spadea playing Davis Cup during McEnroe's tenure is not nearly as definitive.

Asked if he was concerned his public stance could diminish his prospects of being picked to play Davis Cup for the future, Spadea said he's willing to take that personal risk to take a stand on principle.

"I am not concerned about how articulating my thoughts on Pat McEnroe's selection process will affect my future chances of being named to the team because this is an issue of principle for me," Spadea told Tennis Week. "It is unfortunate, on a personal level, that in this instance the bias in his process is adversely affecting me. But the bigger picture is that it will continue to hurt other players, the overall strength of the team, and the integrity of the sport in the United States if the Davis Cup captain continues to base his selections on all factors other than performance and ranking. It is patently wrong to discriminate based on age in any professional environment. Further, to allow off court factors and personal preferences, rather than players' rankings and records, to dictate the Davis Cup selections is wrong. I know it and anyone who understands sports knows it. I feel compelled to speak out against the blatant unfairness of the selection process and I would never regret calling it as I, and most others, see it."

Roforot
11-13-2004, 06:38 PM
Interesting article. I do think in this case the captain has the right and reasonable argument for choosing his team. I think he's going w/ young guys that will hopefully play and improve over the years; in addition, I think they're all friends, whereas Spadea would be the old man out.


On the other hand, I remember when John McEnroe was the captain; he snubbed Jim Courier who's career was on the decline except during Davis cup when he put on some great matches. I felt that was disloyal!

big ted
11-13-2004, 07:31 PM
spadea beats ppl he's suppossed to beat but rarely beats the topgunners. mardy fish is more of a loose cannon. he can lose to anyone but he can beat just about anyone too. i agree with pat mcenroe. fish has a better chance of beating moya and ferrerro then spadea does. spadeas never beaten them, fish has. if u know the dynamics of how match ups work its not a tough decision to pick fish over spadea. with spadea in there its almost a guarantee ur down 0-2.

as long as fish wins one of his matches, roddick wins one or two and the doubles win is what pmac is hoping for

Fee
11-13-2004, 07:59 PM
Am I dyslexic tonight, or was part of that article pasted in twice? Anyway, Spadea got screwed. McEnroe could just have easily named a team of five, made Mardy and Vince play for it once they got to Sevilla to try out the surface and named his final choice at the draw ceremony. If I remember correctly, he made Blake and Fish play for it in September of 2003 before Fish went on to earn the spot and Kucera. I'm not particularly fond of Vince, but that would have been the fair thing to do and it might have given the US at least some chance to win the tie.

BigboyDan
11-13-2004, 08:08 PM
Select a new captain every two years; it isn't a fiefdom - do it like the Ryder Cup.

big ted
11-13-2004, 08:16 PM
fee just cuz spadea can beat fish dont mean spadea can beat fererro and moya. fish has a better chance of beating these players hes got a more explosive game and he's a better big match player.

Fee
11-13-2004, 10:21 PM
I agree Ted, but playing each other on the actual surface would be a more fair way to pick the last singles player since they are evenly matched by some of the other factors. They could get over there to the clay bog and find out that Mardy can't deal with it and Vince can, or vice versa. Would be better to have one more option.

big ted
11-14-2004, 03:48 AM
i suppose so but no coach in his right mind is going to put in a brand new player who never played davis cup in his life into the final round in spain against two of the best clay courters today thats just suicide. can u imagine how wild the crowds going to be ? i think thats why pmac chose ginepri as the alternate over spadea as well.

Feña14
11-14-2004, 04:42 AM
Spadea has earned his spot and is the better player on Clay. We all know that Fish can't beat any of the Spanish team on Clay, Ferrero can still perform on clay and beat him at 50%, Moya has won a TMS on clay this year and pushed Coria at RG, no way could Fish take 3 sets of either of them. Robredo and Nadal are both in top form aswell.

I just see the decision of putting Fish in as an early sign of defeat. As a neutral I want to see the best final possible and to tell you the truth, this could be as good as over after the first day. Spadea is probably better on clay that Roddick.

On the other hand, seeing Fish (or should I say Bamby? :wink: ) trying to beat the Spaniards on clay will be hilarious! This could be a good decision afterall!

Fee
11-14-2004, 11:15 AM
I know that it was a very traumatic event for lots of people who might wish to block it out, but Vince does have Davis Cup experience, in Spain, on clay, against Ferrero. Vince got a set off of him in a dead rubber back in July of 2000. Pretty sure that was the last team coached by John Mc, when the top ranked players bailed on him and he had to take Todd Martin, Vince, JMG and Chris Woodruff. Unlike anybody on the current squad, Vince knows exactly how brutal the Spanish crowd can be and as fond as I am of Ginepri, I'd put Vince's mental fortitude up against his anyday.

Liam, Bambi is Andy's nickname from a few years ago. Funny that you would use it for Mardy now.

Feña14
11-14-2004, 11:51 AM
Well I actually call Gaudio Bamby he can play on clay, but when you get him on hard with the world class players then he will resemble Bamby on ice trying to compete. :lol:

Similar to Fish trying to keep up with the Spaniards on clay.

Chopin
11-14-2004, 07:12 PM
I think Spadea would be a better clay court pick than Fish!

davey25
11-16-2004, 07:41 AM
Heck Spadea is better on clay than Roddick! Patrick will get his due when Spain slaughters the U.S though.

BigboyDan
11-16-2004, 03:38 PM
Patrick will get his due when Spain slaughters the U.S though.

Completely agree. What I love best about sports it that it rewards intelligence and punishes stupidity.

Max G.
11-16-2004, 05:52 PM
Am I the only one here that agrees with the pick?

True, overall Spadea is better than Fish - but Fish has a better head-to-head against both Moya and Ferrero. Also, Spadea is simply too stereotypical of a claycourter - no big guns to force the issue with. Fish has the loose-cannon-aspect for him, and he's got more variety than Spadea. It was a close choice regardless, and I'm not sure whether Spadea would do any better than Fish will.

davey25
11-17-2004, 07:31 AM
Lets put it this way, if Moya and Ferrero are playing so badly in the Davis Cup final that Fish beats them on clay, they would have lost to any of the top 10 americans probably, so Spadea would have beaten them in that case too. Fishs success against Moya and Ferrero is on hard courts which means nothing here. Roddick killed Ferrero in the U.S open final last year, but had they played in the French Open final that same year Ferrero would have killed Roddick atleast as badly. So surface is a HUGE difference with Ferrero, and to a lesser extent Moya; particularly against Roddick, and to a lesser extent Fish.