Guide To USTA League Tennis

It’s “Championship Season” in the world of U.S. Tennis Association League Tennis as its championships are determined throughout the fall season. Tony Serksnis has been playing USTA League Tennis for over 25 years and authored the book “A PLAYER’S GUIDE TO USTA LEAGUE TENNIS” available here about the ins and outs of playing on a club, town, school or league tennis team. The following is Serksnis’s introduction to the book, available exclusively to Tennis Ledger readers.

 

I hve been playing tennis in the United States Tennis Association’s League Tennis program since I moved to Mountain View, California in 1985. However, my tennis “roots” are from playing summers as a teen in Cleveland, Ohio. I wish I still had my original wooden Wilson racquet, which had one of those “racquet anti-warp” guards. It was one where you were always tightening and un-tightening the screws to make sure your racquet didn’t get a twisted head due to humidity in those regions of the Midwest. I can also recall using a single (white!) tennis ball for an entire summer. We didn’t have money to be “extravagant” with such things as tennis balls.

Upon arriving in Mountain View, I could see many public court parks that looked inviting to play at. Mountain View also had a tennis club that was mainly social at the time. After joining that club (dues were only $20 per year), I was quick to make friends with the other club members and participated in ladders and club tournaments. It wasn’t long before I noticed that there was some sort of “league play” which turned out to be the USTA League Tennis program and the club sponsored teams at a few levels.

Back in those days, we were given National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) ratings individually by USTA officials. One would gather with several other individuals in search of their “correct” rating, play perhaps 15 minutes, and your rating was established. I started with an NTRP rating of 3.5. I did fairly well, and in two years, I got bumped up to 4.0. I stayed at that level for 23 years (yes, 23 years!) until 2009, when I was moved to a 4.5 rating at the age of 63. That is something I am very proud of. Today, NTRP ratings occur without “external verification” in that one self-rates against published guidelines. After playing a few matches, and definitely after an entire season of competitive play, one gets a computer rating based upon one’s record and “strength-of-opponent.”

League tennis has then been a serious part of my life. I used to run marathons, with tennis being a healthy “alternative” exercise, but now (due to knees being pounded by over 20 marathons) tennis is my main exercise and hobby. I hope to continue league play for as long as my body holds up and league play still remains fun. Since league play is based on playing people with similar abilities, even if one’s level decreases over the years, one can continue to compete at possibly lower levels. Players can have any skill level before their very first rating. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t played much tennis at all before getting an official rating and starting league play. Others may have been on high school teams or even played in college. Thus, USTA League Tennis provides for the entire range of beginning skill levels.

My viewpoint is from a player who plays in sunny California, where we are indeed fortunate to experience very tennis-friendly weather for most of the year. Here, the rainy season lasts for a short period at the beginning of the calendar year. This could lead to a rather narrow view of the entire USTA . One thing is for certain – the competition level doesn’t diminish beyond the Northern California region. Every USTA team steps out on to the court with the hopes of both winning and having an enjoyable experience.

In those 20-plus years of playing USTA League Tennis, I’ve served as team member, captain, and co-captain. In my first season, our team was fortunate enough to actually win our league and qualify for our local district championship and then went on to qualify for the USTA Northern California Sectional Championships. However, we were denied in our attempt to qualify for the USTA League Tennis National Championships. I’ve decided to position this book from the captain’s perspective. The captain certainly must function as an organizer, leader and motivational coach to the rest of the team. All of that for no overt compensation other than knowing that this was the best one could do. Most of the time, the captain is also a player, so while also trying to lead the team, the captain is also trying to improve their own game as player. The captain could be looked upon as the CEO & CFO of the team.

My first thought was to write (and title) the book from a “captain’s viewpoint” but I believe that all players of the USTA will find the book of value and thus, this is a “Players Guide.” I believe that if all players who are members of a USTA team look at the team from the perspective of the captain, the team will be richer for that perspective.

The United States Tennis Association defines its League Tennis program as follows; “USTA League Tennis is organized, competitive team play for women and men age 18 and older of all abilities and experience. Whether you’re new to the game or a former college player, there’s a spot for you. Teams are made up of a minimum of five to eight players depending upon division. Teams and matches are set up according to NTRP ratings, so your teammates and opponents will be at your skill level. The competition is exciting, the atmosphere is social, and since players compete on teams, you have a built-in cheering section. Teams compete in four national divisions: Adult, Senior, Super Senior, and Mixed Doubles. The format features singles and doubles matches for adult leagues, and three doubles for seniors, super seniors, and mixed leagues.”

I would add that USTA League Tennis is a way for people, who have just taken up the game of tennis, to play the sport in a competitive format. The USTA sets up this competitive format at various levels of skill, so that a person just needs to join and participate on a team to enjoy the competition. Playing against people of similar skill, who also are trying to win for their teams, will certainly improve one’s own personal skills. It is a major charter of USTA League Tennis to permit tennis players to work on improving their personal tennis skills through a competitive (yet fun) environment. Any level of player is given the chance to compete against like-skilled players in a team environment.

USTA League Tennis is an organized way to compete at your own particular level. Thus, one just needs to join a team and the USTA will set up leagues within a local geographical area where the team can win local leagues and progress all the way to a national championship. There are few other sports that allow competition to continue beyond winning their local and regional championships and lead to a recognized national championship. If a tennis-playing person moves from one “region” (or state) to another, USTA League Tennis provides an organized and consistent method to participate in a league that has uniform rules across the USA. As the USTA has 17 geographical regions within the USA, a player can expect a consistent set of league-playing rules and skill-level consistency throughout the entire league.

USTA League Tennis is fun. It’s a low-expense hobby with a decent chance of improving one’s fitness through competitive play. There is a social aspect to it in that one can pull for one’s teammates and acquire a healthy respect for the skill of the opposition. Also, the USTA rules as stated in this book could be slightly different for your particular USTA Section, or may change slightly from year to year. The team captain should actually review the USTA rules for their USTA Section each year and print those rules out to keep with them. When issues arise during a match, the rules can be quoted to help resolve that issue. The USTA general rules are meant to cover all players in the USTA , but some different “interpretations” are offered by each USTA Section.

Each player of the game of tennis should be familiar with all of the basic rules so that they can contribute towards issue resolution. I’ve found that tennis players (with rare exception) are not prone to arguments even under extreme “important match considerations.” If every USTA League Tennis match being played under a USTA sanction resulted in a negative aftermath, I’m sure the league wouldn’t be growing in members as it has. Tennis remains a game that is largely self-umpired, and 99 percent of the players “get it right” and thus the game continues to be an overall enjoyable experience.

The USTA ’s national website is www.usta.com. I’m sure all USTA players are already familiar with the site. It is certainly full of the most up-to-date information of a more general nature. In addition, each USTA Section has its own website. For example, for the Northern California (Norcal) Section, it is www.norcal.usta.com. That site would have the most information on the local league schedules, rule interpretations, and events in one’s local area. The rules, of course, must be consistent across the USTA , but I would check one’s local USTA Section’s website as they clarify certain rules for their area. I’d also like to encourage any reader of this book to consult these rules directly as I may have inadvertently put an incorrect interpretation on the particular rule for a USTA Section.

There are over 300,000 league participants throughout the USTA ’s 17 Sections, and I salute them all. I hope you enjoy my book and take something away from this that can help you and your team. Best of luck!

Tony Serksnis

Mountain View, Calif.

Roof Top Tennis in Manhattan

While New York may be labeled as a tennis town, based on the popularity and buzz of the US Open tennis championships, it is a rather difficult place to play tennis. With a lack of real estate – or the value of real estate on the island of Manhattan – tennis courts are not seen as the best use of space. So where can you place a tennis court? How about on top of a roof! Here’s the story on how Manhattan’s Town Tennis Club was founded by 1931 Wimbledon champion Sidney Wood in his book “THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS… AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA” ($14.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com, available for sale here.

In 1952, with the increase in building in New York City fast decimating its numerous empty-lot tennis courts, I got the urge to look into the possibility of utilizing open rooftop areas to save Manhattan’s tennis mavens from settling for racquetball. I knew of no previous exploration of this concept and concentrated my survey on primarily lower buildings.

I could go on ad nauseam, but the final result was the fortuitous discovery of the one time, two-story Doelger Brewery in the upscale Sutton Place area of Manhattan. The street-level space owned by Bill Doelger was occupied by the FBI for a garage on 56th Street. An even luckier find was that the three hi-rise apartment houses that bordered the site to the north and east could not be built on.

Bill immediately saw that a four-court, live action tennis landscape, center-pieced by a remodeled, glass-encased second floor of the brewery as a clubhouse and outer terrace, would be a unique, scenic enhancement for his present and projected buildings. My layout design for a not-for-profit club went straight to his architects, who advised that among the multiple code violations that the project would face, the Doelger’s East 56th Street apartment entrance – the only feasible entry we could have for the club – was a no-chance approval item.  It looked like curtains for us.

But having recruited New York’s Mayor, my friend Bob Wagner, as one of our club’s governors, I asked him if there was any kind of hardship plea worth pursuing. Bob guffawed  and said, “Sid, the city needs tennis courts.” I immediately phoned Bill Doelger who said he wanted to kiss me.

So this and multiple other ensuing code violations were summarily quashed and after phoning the Mayor’s secretary, Mary, a few times for his signature in response to the NYC Building Department code violations, she suggested that I simply initial his name!

I’m reasonably certain that ours was the first-ever rooftop tennis installation, and at present day is still in business. Some of my purist tennis pals may look upon me as a rules and regulation “Benedict Arnold” for the liberties I took to squeeze four courts into an area that was never intended to accommodate them. With 100 feet of width (half a block) to fit pairs of side-by-side, playable doubles courts and leave enough room for the fencing and for the fat lady to pass between the net posts, called for a bit of nimble doings. It came down to cutting nine inches off each outside alley line, (from 4 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. 9 in.) It’s hard to believe, but year after year nobody, including a succession of top-level players on the Church Cup team, the senior version of the Davis Cup, ever had a clue.

Sorry about that, fellows!

With the club humming, my wife Pat suggested that we add a 40 by 80 foot ice rink atop our sitting room, aeons before the Donald Trump-built Central Park skating area came into existence. Even Olympic gold medal winner Dick Button would occasionally drop by for a sunny day spin.

Davis Cup Preview

WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS

Spain (s) v USA (s) Parque Hermanos Castro, Gijon (clay – outdoors)

Argentina (s) v Czech Republic (s) Parque Roca, Buenos Aires (clay – outdoors)
(s) = seed

BACK-TO-BACK FINALS…
Both Argentina and Spain are looking to reach back-to-back finals. If both teams win this weekend, it will be the first time since 1989 that the same two nations have contested back-to-back finals. Sweden and West Germany reached the Final in both 1988 and 1989.

RETAINING THE TITLE…
Since the formation of the World Group in 1981, there have been 5 successful title defences by 4 different nations. Reigning champions Spain were the last nation to successfully defend their title in 2009. The successful title defences in World Group history are: USA 1981-82; Sweden 1984-85; West Germany 1988-89; Sweden 1997-98; and Spain 2008-09.

SPAIN LOOK TO PRESERVE WINNING STREAK…
Spain hold the record for the longest run of wins at home in Davis Cup World Group history. The Spanish have won their last 23 home ties. The last team to defeat Spain at home was Brazil in the 1999 World Group first round. Gustavo Kuerten was the hero of that tie winning all of Brazil’s points as the visitors won 3-2. Italy hold the all-time record with 28 wins at home from 1949 through 1964.

ALL FOUR SEEDS…
For the second consecutive year all 4 semifinalist nations are seeded and it might be good news for Argentina. Four seeds progressed to the semifinals in 2006, 2008 and 2011, with Argentina making it through to the final on all those occasions.

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

(s) Kazakhstan v Uzbekistan National Tennis Centre, Astana (clay – indoors)

(s) Germany v Australia Rothenbaum Stadium, Hamburg (clay – outdoors)

Japan v Israel (s) Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo (hard – outdoors)

Belgium v Sweden (s) Royal Primerose Tennis Club, Brussels (clay – outdoors)

(s) Canada v South Africa Uniprix Stadium Montreal (hard – outdoors)

Brazil v Russia (s) Harmonia Tenis Clube, Sao Jose do Rio Preto (clay – outdoors)

(s) Italy v Chile Tennis Club Napoli, Naples (clay – outdoors)

Netherlands v Switzerland (s) Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam (clay – outdoors)
(s) = seed

• Uzbekistan are looking to qualify for the World Group for the first time. They face local rivals Kazakhstan, who are bidding to maintain their position in the top tier for the third successive year.

• There is a battle of 2 Davis Cup former champions in Hamburg as 3-time winners Germany take on 28-time champion Australia. The Germans have been in the World Group every year since 2006, while the Australians have been in Zone Group competition for the last 5 years.

• Japan, who fought their way back into the World Group for the first time in 26 years by defeating India at the same stage of the competition last year, are aiming to maintain their place among the Davis Cup elite. They play Israel, who defeated Portugal in Europe/Africa Zone Group I in April to book their place in this year’s play-offs.

• Sweden jointly hold the record for most World Group appearances (31) with Czech Republic and USA. That record is at risk as they take on Belgium in Brussels this weekend.

• South Africa, who have lost their last 5 World Group play-off matches, have not been in the top tier since 1998. They play Canada, who returned to the World Group this year for the first time since 2004.

• Brazil and Russia face off in the World Group play-offs for a second successive year. The Russians have played in the World Group every year since 1993 and the 2002 and 2006 champions will be looking to continue that streak. Brazil are bidding to return to the World Group for the first time since 2003. They have lost at this stage of the competition for the last 6 years.

• The Italians maintained their perfect record against Chile with victory at this stage of the competition last year. Italy defeated the South American team to claim their only Davis Cup title in 1976. Chile are looking to bounce straight back to the World Group and are no strangers to the play-offs, having featured in them for 7 of the last 9 years.

• Switzerland were relegated from the World Group by Kazakhstan in 2010. They lost to USA 5-0 in the first round this year and now face the Netherlands, who are trying to gain promotion to the World Group for the first time since 2009.

CHOICE OF GROUND – WORLD GROUP FINAL

The Davis Cup Final will take place on 16-18 November. Below is the choice of ground for all potential match-ups. The venue details are due to be submitted to the ITF by the beginning of October.

Possible Final Venue
SPAIN v ARGENTINA ARG
SPAIN v CZECH REPUBLIC CZE
USA v ARGENTINA ARG
USA v CZECH REPUBLIC USA

PAST CHAMPIONS

In total, 13 nations have won the Davis Cup.

­ USA 32
­ Australia 28
­ France, Great Britain 9
­ Sweden 7
­ Spain 5
­ Germany 3
­ Russia 2
­ Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Serbia, South Africa 1

ALL FIVE TO FIVE…
Only twice have all 5 rubbers of a Davis Cup tie gone to 5 sets: 1946 European Zone semifinal, Yugoslavia defeated France 3-2 and 2003 World Group play-off, Romania defeated Ecuador 3-2.

COMEBACKS FROM 0-2 DOWN…
There have been just 7 comebacks from 0-2 down in World Group ties. Sweden has produced 4 of these comebacks including the most recent one in 1998 (Sweden d. Slovak Republic 3-2, first round). In the Davis Cup overall there have been 47 since the competition began in 1900.

TOP TIEBREAKS…
The most tiebreaks in a Davis Cup tie is 11 (Croatia d. Brazil 4-1, 2008 World Group play-off).

PARTICIPATING NATIONS…
123 nations entered the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas.

DAVIS CUP NATIONS RANKING…
The ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking was launched at the end of 2001. It is published following every tie weekend and measures success over the preceding 4-year period, with recent performances weighted more heavily. It is the sole criteria for seeding at all levels of Davis Cup competition.

Latest Davis Cup Nations Ranking (9 April 2012)

1 Spain 11 Israel
2 Argentina 12 Sweden
3 Serbia 13 Canada
4 Czech Republic 14 Russia
5 France 15 Italy
6 USA 16 Switzerland
7 Croatia 17 Chile
8 Austria 18 Belgium
9 Kazakhstan 19 Japan
10 Germany 20 Australia

DAVIS CUP RECORDS^

World Group Davis Cup
Most Games in a Tie (post-tiebreak*) 275:
France d. Switzerland 3-2, 2001 Quarterfinal 281:
Romania d. Ecuador 3-2, 2003 WG Play-off
Most Games in a Tie (pre-tiebreak*) 281:
Paraguay d. France 3-2, 1985 First Round 327:
India d. Australia 3-2, 1974 Eastern Zone Final

Most Games in a Singles Rubber
(post-tiebreak*) 82:
Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Ivo Karkovic (CRO) 2009 Semifinal 82:
Richard Ashby (BAR) d. Jose Medrano (BOL) 1991 Americas II, First Round
Most Games in a Singles Rubber
(pre-tiebreak*) 85:
Michael Westphal (FRG) d. Tomas Smid (TCH) 1985 Semifinal 100:
Harry Fritz (CAN) d. Jorge Andrew (VEN)
1982 Americas Zone Semifinal
Most Games in a Doubles Rubber
(post-tiebreak*) 77:
Arnold-Ker/Nalbandian (ARG) d. Kafelnikov/Safin (RUS), 2002 Semifinal 78:
Di Laura/Noriega (PER) d. Menezes/Roese (BRA), 1991 Americas I First Round

Most Games in a Doubles Rubber
(pre-tiebreak*) 77 (twice):
Annacone/Flach (USA) d. Cash/Fitzgerald (AUS) 1986 Semifinal
Casal/Sanchez (ESP) d. Gonzalez/Pecci (PAR) 1987 Quarterfinal
122:
Smith/Van Dillen (USA) d. Cornejo/Fillol (CHI), 1973 American Zone Final

Most Games in a Set (singles)
40 (21-19):
Carlos Kirmayr (BRA) v Uli Pinner (FRG)
1981 Relegation Tie
46 (24-22 twice):
Alvaro Betancur (COL) v Dale Power (CAN) 1976 American Zone
Andrei Chesnokov (URS) v Michiel Schapers (NED), 1987 European Zone

Most Games in a Set (doubles) 40 (21-19):
Edberg/Jarryd (SWE) v Amritraj/Amritraj (IND) 1985 Quarterfinal 76 (39-37):
Cornejo/ Fillol (CHI) v Smith/Van Dillen (USA) 1973 American Zone Final

Longest Fifth Set (Singles) 17-15 (twice):
Michael Westphal (FRG) v Tomas Smid (TCH) 1985 Semifinal
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) v Andy Roddick (USA) 2006 Semifinal 20-18 (twice):
Richard Ashby (BAR) v Jose Medrano (BOL), 1991 Americas II, First Round.
Nuno Marques (POR) v Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)
1998 Europe/Africa II, Second Round
Longest Fifth Set (Doubles) 19-17:
Arnold-Ker/Nalbandian (ARG) v Kafelnikov/Safin (RUS), 2002 Semifinal 23-21:
Fernandes/Vieira (BRA) v Avidan-Weiss /Davidman (ISR), 1957 American Zone Semifinal

Longest recorded
playing-time (tie) 21 hours, 2 minutes:
France d. Switzerland 3-2, 2001 Quarterfinal 21 hours, 37 minutes:
Romania d. Ecuador 3-2, 2003 WG Play-off
Longest singles rubber 6 hours, 22 minutes:
John McEnroe (USA) d.
Mats Wilander (SWE), 1982 Quarterfinal see World Group
Longest doubles rubber 6 hours, 20 minutes:
Arnold-Ker/Nalbandian (ARG) d. Kafelnikov/Safin (RUS), 2002 Semifinal see World Group

Fewest number of games conceded in a tie 26:
Germany d. Indonesia 5-0, 1989 First Round 6:
Sri Lanka d. Syria – 1991 Asia/Oceania II, First Round
Longest tiebreak* 15-13:
Patrick Rafter (AUS) d. David Rikl (CZE),
1997 First Round 19-17:
Young-Jun Kim (KOR) d. Aqeel Khan (PAK),
2003 Asia/Oceania Zone Group I
*the tiebreak was introduced in Davis Cup in 1989; ^for further details see 2012 Davis Cup Media Guide, General Records, p. 164-70

SPAIN v USA

Head-to-head: tied 5-5
In 10 previous meetings between these 2 former champions only twice has the away team won – most recently when Spain defeated USA in the 2011 quarterfinals in Austin, Texas. USA will be hoping to avenge that defeat and reach their first final since 2007.

SPAIN v USA

1 Current DC Nations Ranking 6
Champion 5 times Best Result Champion 32 times
1921 First year played 1900
77 Years played (incl 2012) 98
28 Years in World Group (incl 2012) 31
191 Ties played 277
121-70 Ties Win-Loss 212-65
0 Comebacks from 0-2 down 1

• Defending champion SPAIN won their 5th Davis Cup title by defeating Argentina 3-1 in last year’s final in Seville. It was their 3rd title in the last 4 years.

• Spain are looking to reach back-to-back Finals for the 3rd time in their history. They also reached back-to-back finals in 2003-04 and 2008-09.

• Spain defeated Kazakhstan 5-0 and Austria 4-1 to book their place in the semifinals for the 4th time in the last 5 years. In their last 6 semifinal appearances Spain have progressed to the Final.

• This is Spain’s 16th consecutive year in the World Group. They hold the World Group record for the longest run of wins by a nation at home. Spain’s quarterfinal win against Austria was their 23rd consecutive victory at home. Spain’s last home loss was in 1999 (l. Brazil), which was also the last time they lost a Davis Cup tie on clay. They have won 25 straight ties on the surface since that defeat.

• If Spain win this weekend they will close the gap on Italy, who have the longest run of wins at home with 28 wins at home from 1949 through 1964.

• Spain have been crowned Davis Cup champion 5 times since 2000, having never previously won the title. They lifted the trophy in 2000 (d. Australia 3-1), 2004 (d. USA 3-2), 2008 (d. Argentina 3-1), 2009 (d. Czech Republic 5-0) and 2011 (d. Argentina 3-1).

• If Spain win this weekend, they will play away in the Final to either Argentina or Czech Republic.

• Spain is currently No. 1 in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking and is one of 5 nations to rank No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 2001 (alongside Australia, Croatia, France and Russia). Spain was ranked No. 1 between September 2004 and September 2005, and has also held the top spot since July 2009.

• USA are playing in their 278th tie – the most for any nation – in their 98th year of Davis Cup competition.

• USA jointly hold the record for most World Group appearances (31) with Czech Republic and Sweden. All 3 nations have played in the World Group every year but one since its inception in 1981. USA was absent from the World Group in 1988 and has the longest unbroken streak of World Group appearances (24).

• USA whitewashed Switzerland 5-0 and defeated France 3-2 to reach their first semifinal since 2008. That year they lost to this weekend’s opponents on clay in Spain.

• Both USA’s victories this year have come away from home and on clay. They are looking to reach their first Final since winning their 32nd Davis Cup title in 2007, defeating Russia 4-1 in Portland, Oregon.

• USA’s triumph in 2007 came 12 years after their previous title, the longest gap between USA Davis Cup successes.

• Last year, USA lost to this weekend’s opponents in a quarterfinal tie in Austin, TX. It brought to an end their 6-match winning streak on home soil.

• USA are currently ranked No. 6 in the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking. The lowest they have been ranked is No. 8 (from April-September 2003 and again in September 2005) and the highest ranking position they have held is No. 2. The Davis Cup Nations Ranking was introduced in 2001 and is updated after each round.

• If USA win this weekend they will either play away to Argentina or at home to Czech Republic in the Final.

ARGENTINA v CZECH REPUBLIC

Head-to-head: Czech Republic lead 3-1
The 2 teams have met 3 times since the introduction of the World Group, with the home team winning on each of those 3 occasions. Czechoslovakia defeated Argentina on clay in Buenos Aires in an Inter-Zonal semifinal in 1980 that featured a dominant display by Ivan Lendl over Jose-Luis Clerc and Guillermo Vilas.

ARGENTINA v CZECH REPUBLIC

2 Current DC Nations Ranking 4
Runner-up 4 times Best Result Champion 1980
1923 First Year Played 1921
58 Years Played (inc 2012) 79
20 Years in World Group (inc 2012) 31
138 Ties Played 193
79-59 Ties Win-Loss 117-76
0 Comebacks from 0-2 down 0

• ARGENTINA are into the semifinals for the 8th time since returning to the World Group in 2002. They have reached the quarterfinals or better every year since 2002. They are looking to reach their 5th final.

• Argentina are playing their 3rd consecutive tie this year at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires. They defeated Germany 4-1 and Croatia 4-1 to reach the semifinals.

• Argentina are a 4-time runner-up in Davis Cup: in 1981 (l. USA), 2006 (l. Russia), 2008 (l. Spain) and 2011 (l. Spain). Argentina are the only nation to have lost 4 Davis Cup Finals without winning the title.

• Last year, Argentina finished runner-up, losing 3-1 to Spain in Seville.

• The doubles rubber in the World Group semifinal between Russia and Argentina in 2002, featuring Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin against Lucas Arnold-Ker and David Nalbandian, is the longest recorded men’s doubles match in Davis Cup, at 6 hours, 20 minutes.
• The last time Argentina lost a home tie on clay was against Slovak Republic in 1998. They have won 18 of their last 20 Davis Cup ties on the surface. Their only losses in that time both came against Spain, in the 2003 semifinals and in last year’s final.

• If Argentina win this weekend they are guaranteed to have a home Final against the winner of Spain v USA.
• CZECH REPUBLIC are looking to reach their second Final since the formation of the World Group in 1981. The Czechs reached the final in 2009, losing to Spain on clay in Barcelona.

• Before the nation divided into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup in 1980, defeating Italy on carpet in Prague in the final.

• Czech Republic are making their 31st World Group appearance, the most for any nation along with Sweden and USA. They have competed in the World Group every year with the exception of 2006.

• This year Czech Republic defeated Italy 4-1 in Ostrava and Serbia 4-1 in Prague to reach the semifinals. Between them the Czech duo of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have combined to win all 6 live rubbers.

• Last year, the Czechs lost to Kazakhstan in the first round in Ostrava. They were 2-1 up after the doubles rubber before a stunning Kazakh comeback by Andrey Golubev and Mikhail Kukushkin. The Czechs defeated Romania 5-0 in the World Group play-offs to maintain their place in the top tier.

• If Czech Republic win this weekend, they will be at home to Spain or away to USA in November’s Final.