Four-time Grand Slam winner and former top-ranked tennis player in the world Jim Courier of the United States has kept himself busy since retiring from the sport nearly 10 years ago.
The 40-year-old has served as a tennis analyst and commentator for several broadcast networks and is the founder of the Champions Series, a league where tennis legends - such as American Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg of Sweden - play against one another in a fan-friendly tournament setting.
Courier now adds Davis Cup captain to his long list of tennis duties, following former captain Patrick McEnroe's resignation last September after 10 years with the team.
Courier considers himself a mentor to several players on tour, and hopes to enhance his relationships with the American players ahead of the team's first-round World Group match against Chile in March.
"Obviously, I've developed relationships with the guys that have been on the tour for a little bit longer, through just being around the circuit," said Courier. "But with the younger players, in particular Ryan [Harrison] and Donald [Young], I'm trying to establish those relationships in the hopes that those guys will be a part of the team here before too long.”
Courier wants to see the younger generation of American tennis players succeed and has always had good personal relationships with them.
"I'm basically a big brother for all the young pros, or all the pros, period, for anything that they need, whether it's advice on how to play, how to schedule, where they want to train," he said. "I'd like to think that I'm a resource for all of the U.S. tennis players to call, and call upon, whenever they need it."
Courier, a Florida-native, played in arguably the greatest era of men's tennis for the United States. Along with Americans Sampras, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, the foursome dominated the tour and finished their careers with a combined 27 Grand Slam titles.
Courier also shined in Davis Cup play, where he recorded a 17-10 record in 14 ties (best-of-five series) and participated on the 1992 and 1995 championship winning teams.
And despite the Americans' recent struggles to win Grand Slams, Courier is delighted by the increase in interest for the Davis Cup among the top players.
"There's been a real selflessness from the team, by and large, and certainly since my era when we had difficulty getting players to want to play," he said. "Now it's the other end of the spectrum, which is everyone wants to play, and you have to make some tough choices."
Courier also has the benefit of having a strong and deep field of players to choose from. The highest ranked American, Andy Roddick, has re-committed himself to the Davis Cup team after skipping the event last year. The number-one doubles team in the world, Mike and Bob Bryan, are also expected to play for the United States, which last won the event in 2007.
The newly appointed captain is glad he will have good options.
"The way I positioned it with the players so far is that as we come into 2011, we're really looking at a six-man team right now,” said Courier. “I know that only four can play at any given tie, but when you have the world's number-one doubles team in the Bryans and four top-20 singles players, you have a lot of weapons at your disposal."
And for Courier, being Davis Cup captain is a dream come true.
"Davis Cup was always something that was near the forefront of my mind as to a goal to be involved in it at some other time,” said Courier. “And Davis Cup is certainly something that I enjoyed as a player, and I wanted to be involved in again, and I'm glad I can now."
Courier's first challenge arrives in March against Chile, but for now, it's all smiles for the new U.S. Davis Cup captain.
This article was written for Voice of America. View it here.
Friday, January 14, 2011
I decided to do another Australian Open pool this year.
So feel free to join if you'd like!
For the record, I had Roger Federer beating Andy Murray last year and Serena Williams beating Kim Clijsters.
Beginners luck? I guess we'll find out...