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Chris Chase

Why Jim Courier is the right choice for U.S. Davis Cup captain

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Hours after Patrick McEnroe resigned as the captain of the United States Davis Cup team, Jim Courier began lobbying for the job.

"The Davis Cup means the world to me," he said while being interviewed during the CBS broadcast of the U.S. Open. "And at some point in my life, I certainly hope to have that seat. I'm definitely interested in the job."

All that talk paid off.

On Wednesday, the USTA officially named the four-time Grand Slam champion as the nation's new Davis Cup captain. The announcement was met with little surprise, as it had been rumored for weeks that Courier would be the choice.

It's a good one. The former world No. 1 is the right fit for the Davis Cup and was the best choice to help the team get out of its current Davis Cup malaise.

Any one of the candidates bandied about in the days following McEnroe's resignation would have been fine. Todd Martin was a teammate of Courier's during that classic 1995 tie against Russia. Brad Gilbert would have brought some attention to the tournament because of his outgoing manner and high-profile analyst gig with ESPN. MaliVai Washington, Stan Smith and Michael Chang each had their own merits. But Courier stood above the rest.

He has the smarts, the resume and the personality to help the Davis Cup regain some stature in the United States. Courier had a 17-10 record during his Davis Cup career and helped the USA to an overall 13-1 record in ties. His enthusiasm for the event could help generate interest amongst fans and, more importantly, top American players like Andy Roddick. He's a former No. 1 and one of the five best American players of the last quarter-century. When he speaks, young players would be wise to listen.

A stellar tennis resume isn't all Courier brings to the job. His blunt nature also could help bring reform to an event that badly needs it.

The Davis Cup is broken. Top players don't play, the competition is too spread out, fans are apathetic. Courier knows this and wants to fix it. He favors a World Cup-style tournament in which teams would play regional qualifying and then meet for a two-week Davis Cup competition in one location. In the 24-hour news cycle, this would draw far more attention from casual sports fans. With his new position, Courier could also affect change to the entire event.

First things first. Chile awaits the United States in March. There on the clay courts of the South American nation, Jim Courier will make his debut as American Davis Cup captain, the first time a McEnroe won't serve in that role in a decade. His mission is to change the fortunes of the U.S. team and of the event itself: lofty goals, indeed. If anyone is up to the challenge, it's Jim Courier.

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