The ITF today announced the official nominations for the World Group Quarterfinal ties next month.
After the last Davis Cup round in February, Tennis.com’s Peter Bodo chimed in — like all columnists did — about how to resuscitate interest in this event in the U.S. His ideas? (1) Install Hawk-Eye cameras in all courts used (which should be easy, since all 5 matches are played on the same court) and (2) create team uniforms:
National teams have uniforms, period. Yet there was Roddick in black-and-white, and Berdych in red-and-blue yesterday in Ostrava… Davis Cup is about tradition, pageantry and playing for your country. Why have the guys dressed like two hackers at the local park?”
Yesssssssss. Bodo’s on the right track. In case he didn’t know, I should point out that every team has warm-ups that already play on flag colors. But when the players are on the court, everyone wears their own gear, likely because they still have to adhere to sponsorship contracts (remember that Kim Clijsters Olympics disaster?).
So an on-court uniform will take some effort to figure out. And as Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin (and Yonex and adidas) showed us, you can still sport your country’s colors — or at least slap your country name on the back — while keeping allegiance to your sponsor.
Hewitt in two shirts silkscreened with ‘Australia':
and Safin’s team did a slapdash job putting ‘Russia’ on the back of this adidas shirt. You know someone got sent to the gulag after the match:
Perhaps Bodo is onto something. If each country designed uniforms from scratch — uniforms in the palette of a country flag, and would jump off from there to include stripes, coats of arms, and any other element that would evoke national pride — the ITF could use this to keep the Davis Cup brand afloat throughout the year. After each tie, put the shirts up online and sell, sell, SELL.
I might offer you some suggestions for designs in the coming weeks.