So as today is World Tennis Day, it seemed a good reason to talk about what an awesome weekend I just had in Glasgow, cheering on Team GB in their Davis Cup tie against the USA.
If I’m completely honest, I didn’t really rate our chances going into the tie, which was for a quarter final spot in the annual tennis tournament. Even though we beat the USA in San Diego at the same stage last year, after a shock win for James Ward against Sam Querrey, it seemed unlikely we’d manage it again. Particularly since their number 1, John Isner (all 6ft 10in of him) was back from injury.
Still, I’m a Brit, and if there’s one thing we Brits know how to do, it’s cheer on our team to the bitter end (did someone say Tim Henman?) – so my mum, sister and I headed off to Glasgow armed with flags, hand clappers and a healthy dose of optimism. If nothing else, we figured, it would give us a weekend away.
There’s always a very special atmosphere at Davis Cup ties, whether home or away. It’s the one time you can wholeheartedly throw your support behind your team, cheer double faults and net cords, and generally destroy the reputation of tennis as a polite sport. But I’ve been to a fair few ties now, including the ill-fated Lithuania and Italy trips, and I’d have to say this was probably the best yet. 8,000 fans packed into the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, a good 95% of whom were cheering for GB, and it was LOUD. Even before the players arrived on court, we were all hyped up and ready for a good time, thanks in no small part to the Stirling University Barmy Army, who come to all the ties and are famous for their cheerleading.
So we were fully prepared to enjoy ourselves whatever happened, and a fairly routine win for Andy Murray over Donald Young got us off to a good start. And then came James Ward, the world number 111, against John Isner, ranked 20. Once we’d all got over the horror that was James’ shirt (he’s sponsored by Ted Baker, who I can only assume paid him a lot of money to wear it), we got right behind him and even though the first two sets went to Isner, we were undeterred. And fortunately, so was he, because then came the comeback.
It took five hours and a gruelling fifth set, during which we endured several tense moments, but somehow James Ward pulled off another amazing win. And the arena went mad. We jumped up and down, waved our arms in the air, sang along at ear-splitting volume with The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles – and even though we’d missed our dinner and then spent half an hour queuing for the train in the pouring rain, we got back to the hotel in high spirits.
And so to day 2, and the doubles match, which, again, we didn’t really expect to win since it was Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot, who haven’t played together since they were juniors, against the Bryan brothers, world number 1 pairing and legends of the sport. Predictably we started badly, due to an unfortunate issue with Jamie Murray’s serve, but then, somewhere in the third set, our guys got their act together and turned it around. Before we knew it, we were into another fifth set and it looked like it could go either way, so even when the Bryans just nicked it, we weren’t too bothered; to have got that close, especially after such a rubbish start, was pretty good going. And it meant the tie was still alive going into day 3…
… which began with Andy Murray against John Isner, who, bless him, was still pretty shattered after the epic battle against James on Friday. Even so, he’s still got a ferocious serve that can get him out of trouble, and it was a lot tighter than we’d expected. We had several anxious moments during the first set, before Andy somehow won through on his way to a straight sets victory, sealing the tie and our place in the quarter finals for a second year running. Cue more Proclaimers, jumping up and down etc.
One of the best things about the weekend, besides the incredible atmosphere and the fact that we won (obviously) was seeing the team working together and supporting each other. Tennis can often seem like a bit of a lonely sport, and I think that’s why I love Davis Cup – because it’s not just one guy doing his thing for his own gain. In particular, it was great to see Andy Murray, often accused of being humourless and surly, on his feet cheering on his friends and brother (although, for some reason, the women behind us on day 2 wanted him to shut up and sit down). Not to mention joining in with the singing. I never had Andy down as a singer, somehow.
Next up, we’re taking on France for a place in the semis. It was at this point last year that we so nearly beat Italy in Naples, and it would be amazing to go one better this year, particularly as it’s another home tie. But whatever happens, this weekend was brilliant, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe the weather.
Oh, and apparently we were on TV! Fame at last…