String up your rackets, it’s Davis Cup time

A gloriously busy September in Calgary continues with international tennis just around the corner. The Davis Cup tilt between Canada and international powerhouse Brazil takes place at the Corral from Sept. 19-21.

The Brazilian side, led by world #14 Gustavo Kuerten, or "Guga" to his fans, are definitely the favourites heading in. But the Canadians have a secret weapon, Davis Cup giant slayer Daniel Nestor. Nestor, best known for his doubles play, rarely plays singles matches professionally anymore, however he has toppled then world #1 Stefan Edberg and Chilean star Marcelo Rios in past Davis Cup action.

"Dan’s singles career has been plagued by injuries; playing seven days at a high level is tough on the body," explained Team Canada Captain and retired professional Grant Connell when asked about Nestor’s success. "In Davis Cup however, it’s one match by one."

This is the third time Calgary has been chosen by Tennis Canada as the event’s host city, a decision made easy by the outpouring of fan and financial support received in years past.

"Availability is one reason, and the size is right [at the Corral]. This will be the third time we’ve come to Calgary and both the fans and the corporate community have been very supportive every time out," explained Carmel Derdaele, Director of Tennis Canada.

"The majority of our funding comes from elsewhere, such as the Canadian Open and Sport Canada," she continued. "However, the Davis Cup in Calgary is quite lucrative as (Chair of Tennis Canada) Harold Milavsky lives in town and has gone to great lengths to sell all the corporate boxes and secure sponsorship. He’s a real champion for us."

As for Connell, a veteran of Davis Cup action himself, his job is somewhat simpler than that of the athletes or the organizers.

"I like to call myself the best paid water boy ever," he laughs. "I look at the role of captain as setting the tone, preparing players and maintaining the calm during the match."

Connell’s toughest decision may be deciding who rounds out the Canadian contingent. While Nestor leads the way, the final two spots–one as Nestor’s doubles partner, one as the other singles player–are still up for grabs. Frederic Niemeyer, Frank Dancevic and Simon Larose will be battling it out for the two spots.

Connell feels the competition will give Canada the best team and the best chance to win and advance.

"I have to see who adapts best to the altitude and who has been playing better."

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