The West Side Tennis Club, the iconic and historic former site of the U.S. Open, will host Davis Cup for the first time since 1959 when it will be the venue for the South Africa vs. Venezuela Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group II series September 18-19, 2021.
The best-of-five match series will be played the weekend after the conclusion of the U.S. Open on a hard court in the 98-year-old 13,000-seat historic horseshoe shaped stadium, which hosted the finals of the U.S. Championships and U.S. Open from 1923 to 1977. The stadium last hosted Davis Cup in 1959 when Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Neale Fraser led Australia to the Davis Cup title with a 3-2 victory over the United States team led by Alex Olmedo, Butch Buchholz and Barry McKay.
The top South African players in the ATP rankings are Kevin Anderson, the former U.S. Open and Wimbledon finalist, who achieved a career-high ranking of No. 5 but is now No. 75, No. 49 Lloyd Harris, who beat Rafael Nadal last week in Washington, D.C., and former Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles finalist Raven Klaasen, who is ranked No. 23 in doubles. Venezuela is led by No. 585-ranked Ricardo Rodriguez, the all-time leading Davis Cup player for his country.
“We could not be more excited to bring world class tennis back to the West Side Tennis Club, one of the most historic venues in American sports,” said West Side Tennis Club President Monika Jain. “While Forest Hills is most synonymous as the former home of the U.S. Open, the West Side Tennis Club has also hosted many Davis Cup matches, Wightman Cup matches as well as the Tournament of Champions men’s event for many years. We are thrilled to add another chapter of our illustrious tennis history with this South Africa versus Venezuela series.”
It will mark the first time that Davis Cup will be played in the New York City area since the 1981 USA vs. Czechoslovakia Davis Cup quarterfinal at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows featuring John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.
“It’s been 40 years since Davis Cup was last played in the New York area and 62 years since it was played at Forest Hills, so this is an event that New York sports fans should not miss,” said Jason Weir Smith, new West Side Tennis Club director of tennis from South Africa, who was the driving force behind securing this Davis Cup series. “We invite everyone to come to the West Side Tennis Club to take in the beauty of our club, watch one of the most exciting forms of competitive tennis and be part of this very special event. We want this to be a start to bringing more and more world class tennis events to Forest Hills for years to come.”
Following agreement between the two National Associations, South Africa will be regarded as the Home Nation and Venezuela the Visiting Nation, and the tie will be played on the 18th and 19th September 2021.
Venezuela was originally drawn as the host for the tie, but because of the security environment in the South American country, the event was moved to a neutral venue. The winner of the tie will remain in the Davis Cup Group II for the 2022 Davis Cup campaign.
“With the core of our Davis Cup team being based in the USA during September and considering the tight COVID-19 travel regulations in place across the globe, it is a practical and pragmatic, for all parties concerned, to host the tie on neutral ground, in New York. We would especially like to thank the West Side Tennis Club for opening their doors to us, in order to make this unique situation a reality,” said Richard Glover, CEO of Tennis South Africa (TSA).
Tickets for the event can be found at ForestHillsProTennis.com. Special VIP hospitality, sponsorship, box seat and “Speak Easy” packages are available by emailing Weir-Smith at Jason@thewestsidetennisclub.com. The first day of play will feature two best-of-three-set singles matches starting at 11 am and the second day, also starting at 11 am, featuring the reverse two best-of-three-set singles matches and a best-of-three-set doubles match. The winner will remain in the Davis Cup Group II for the 2022 Davis Cup campaign, two levels below the Davis Cup World Group that determines the Davis Cup champion in the Davis Cup World Finals in Madrid.
Davis Cup by Rakuten is the largest annual international team competition in world sport. One of the cornerstones of the tennis calendar, Davis Cup provides players with the chance to represent their country in an otherwise individual sport. Founded by Hall of Famer Dwight Davis in 1900, Davis Cup began as a challenge match between USA and British Isles, with that first event being held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Mass. Today, more than 120 nations compete in the annual event.