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U.S., France to Play Davis Cup in San Diego

February 05, 1989|BILL DWYRE | Times Sports Editor

FT. MYERS, Fla. — In a year when interest in U.S. Davis Cup tennis is on the rise, San Diego has landed the rights to be the host city for the next round.

The United States Tennis Assn. announced Saturday, shortly after Ken Flach and Robert Seguso won the clinching third point with their doubles victory over Paraguay, that the quarterfinal round of the World Group Draw would be played at the San Diego Sports Arena, April 7-9. The opponent will be France, which also took a 3-0 decision Saturday, beating Israel at Tel Aviv. Had Israel won, the April 7-9 match would have been played at Israel.

The matchup at San Diego should be highly attractive. France will probably bring Yannick Noah, Henri Leconte and Guy Forget to play against John McEnroe and Andre Agassi in singles and Flach and Seguso in doubles, making it a showdown of top international players.

The United States has fought its way into the main Davis Cup draw after slipping twice in 1987, at Paraguay and at Hartford, Conn., to West Germany. That meant that the United States had to win twice last year just to return to the bracket that leads to a shot at the Cup. And now, with Paraguay dispatched and France beatable--and with a team that captain Tom Gorman calls "the strongest we've had since I've been captain (4 years)"--the United States suddenly appears a viable contender to win its 29th Davis Cup.

That makes the competition at San Diego, although its dates clash with the beginning of the major league baseball season, a high profile event. San Diego outbid George Mason University of Fairfax, Va., the Princess Resort stadium at Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Rancho Bernardo Inn near San Diego.

David Markin of Kalamazoo, Mich., incoming USTA president and chairman of the group's Davis Cup Committee, said here Saturday that San Diego was chosen because "it has great weather, it has been a number of years since we've had the Davis Cup in California and the tennis fans in California are tremendous."

Asked what "great weather" had to do with it, because the event will be played indoors in the Sports Arena, Markin said, "Well, there is great tennis atmosphere out there."

The two most recent Davis Cup appearances in California by a U.S. team have also been in the San Diego area. The United States played Mexico in 1981 and India in 1982, both at La Costa.

But a quarterfinal match against a team such as France apparently prompted the USTA to seek more seating. Markin said the San Diego Sports Arena will be configured to seat 12,000. The Sonesta Sanibel Harbour Resort Stadium here, where the United States beat Paraguay, had a 5,500 seating capacity. Neither La Costa, which wasn't in the bidding this time, nor Rancho Bernardo has that kind of capacity.

The likelihood is that the United States will be playing for the right to meet Boris Becker and West Germany in West Germany in the semifinals, July 21-23.

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