Davis Cup is set to begin this weekend as the USA takes on France, Spain hosts Austria, the Czech Republic welcomes Serbia, and Croatia visits Argentina. But what of the smaller countries battling it out for a chance to be in the World Group one day? Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm was on hand at the Netherlands vs Romania pre-draw ceremony where the two teams discussed their expectations as well as tried to avoid answering questions on the dismissal of Romanian Davis Cup captain Andrei Pavel who has called the Romanian Tennis Federation prideful and “arrogant.”
The Dutch team consists of Igor Sisjling, Robin Haase, Jan Siemerink (Captain), Jan-Julien Rojer and Thomas Schoorel, while the Romanian team includes Darius Florin Bragusi, Petru Alexandru Luncano, Ciprian Porumb (Captain), Andrei Daescu and Florin Mergea (2003 Boys’ Singles Wimbledon champion).
Of note in the press conference was the absence of the top Romanian players such as world number #93 Victor Hanescu, #98 Adrian Ungur, Victor Crivoi and Marius Copil, as well as the #12 doubles player on the ATP Tour, Horia Tecau.
The players have all refused to play in protest at the dismissal of Davis Cup captain Andrei Pavel by the Romanian Tennis Federation (FRT). Pavel had criticized the leadership of the FRT including President Ruxandra Dragomir. Dragomir insists that Pavel was let go because of his losing record in Davis Cup — losing 1-4 to Argentina and 0-5 to the Czech Republic, but Pavel claims it’s because the FRT and Dragomir in particular have been “overcome with pride” and don’t consult their players and coaches. While Pavel has good relationships with the players, the FRT responds by saying the top Romanians are trying to “force the hand of the FRT” to allow Pavel back or risk them boycotting the Davis Cup matches. Pavel further claims that the FRT is “not normal” and that is has “managed to do away with the many values of Romanian tennis.”
The accusations are so cruel and messy, that I can’t even recall the last time something like this happened!
During the press conference, Dutch captain Siemerink didn’t really want to respond in the matter, simply saying that he expected the young Romanian players to seize the opportunity to put themselves on the tennis grid and make it a difficult tie to win.
Likewise, the new Romanian captain Porumb was also very brief in his statements, saying that he expects a very difficult weekend but that it would “take a miracle” to win. He didn’t care to address what caused the absence of the top players, allowing the tension in the room to grow into a heavy cloud. He did, however, highlight the fact that the Romanian Tennis Federation recently received an award for their junior program and expounded on how tennis is developing wonderfully in Romania for the future.
*Punch. Right hook. Stomach kick. Knockout.*
1 point for the Romanian Tennis Federation; 0 points for Andrei Pavel and the top Romanian players. Not sure that’s how tennis is played though, fellas …
Check out Rick Gleijm’s full gallery from the pre-draw ceremony below!