Blake: Best Is Yet To Come For Young Americans
James Blake By Richard
James Blake had just evened the Kroger St. Jude final against Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick at one set apiece and was headed for his court-side seat when the crowd at the Memphis Racquet Club made a stand.
The standing ovatation
resulted in a resounding roar that reverberated throughout the club
and served as a show of respect and appreciation for the young American
pair. The fans weren't the only ones applauding. Throughout the match,
both Blake and Roddick applauded each other for spectacular shots. And
after the 19-year-old Roddick captured his fourth career title with
a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory, the performance of both players made it clear
American tennis fans will have reason to cheer a pair of players with
"I think part
of the reason Andy and I were applauding each other is because we know
it's another step forward for American tennis," Blake said. "We're
happy to see it. I don't know how that last generation came up together
- Sampras and Agassi and Chang and Martin. I don't know how well they
got along. But this group, it feels like we're having a great time,
and I hope it continues for 10 years down the road."
It was the first
all-American final in Memphis since Todd Martin defeated Brad Gilbert
in 1994 and marked the first all-Americanfinal
since 1995 that did not include Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi.
Roddick has emerged as one of the top young talents in tennis. A U.S.
Open quarterfinalist, who suffered a five-set setback to eventual champion
Lleyton Hewitt at Flushing Meadows last September, Roddick has earned
a reputation as the young American most likely to breakthrough to win
a major title.
Blake, a Yonkers, N.Y. native who learned to play tennis at the Harlem
Tennis Center, has made major strides in the past year as well.
improved night and day, especially since the U.S. Open." Roddick
said. "James and I aren't the only ones, either,"
Blake to win the
doubles match for the U.S. Davis Cup team in its 5-0 sweep of the Slovak
Republic in Oklahoma City earlier this month. The victory snapped a
streak of five straight American losses in Davis Cup doubles. Dent,
whose serve routinely rocks the radar gun in excess of 130 miles per
hour, is a serve-and-volleyer who is still learning to control his immense
The new generation of American players is unified by a desire to succeed and a passion for playing Davis Cup. Past American champions from Jimmy Connors to Sampras to Agassi to Chang each declined to play Davis Cup at various times in their career.
But the new breed
welcomes the opportunity to try to claim the Cup for the United States.