For the history: excerpts from Mitya Tursunov's Davis Cup Diary
The second practice was a disaster! Me, Korolev, Andreev, and Chernov (Team sparring partner and a player on Futures circuit) were attempting to play some doubles points but it wasn’t happening as I planned. I was yelling at my drill partner, Chernov, because he is a “new recruit” and as such is placed in my caring hands for discipline and training. He was being defensive of his granny serve, arguing that his lack of pace is offset by an incredible percentage and Andreev, along with Korolev, were target practicing. I was running around the net like a chicken with its head cut off trying to volley.
“Bogey, twelve o’ clock!” – Shouted Volkov, from the umpire’s chair like a sailor off of a mast. “Covering fire!” – I was yelling. “My guns are jammed!” – Screamed Chernov throwing in a high percentage cream-puff he calls - second serve. “Fire in the hole!!!” – howled Andreev as I dropped under the net for cover. “I’m hit, I’m hit!!!” – Cried Chernov pinned with Andreev’s return against back fence. “Get up soldier! It’s 15-40!” – I commanded from under the net. “Sniper!!!” – Screamed Volkov, but it was too late.
Second serve to Korolev was the last serve that Chernov served. Struck into thigh, he dropped like a turd. In his last moments of agony I stood by his side explaining that his second serve is too weak to serve to a forehand. And then… it was Korolev’s turn to serve.
I went through all the emotions like they were seasons of the year. At first I was mad, then confused, delirious, hysterical, and then complete apathy. On water breaks I was balancing my racquet and changing grips like Davydenko and towards the end of the practice Chernov was coaching me on how to volley. To those of you who think that I’m lying, - I’m not! I’m willing to swear that it’s the truth on my great-kissing talent! He was telling me to step into my volleys and not to slow down into them. To be honest, I have a feeling that after losing twice in Davis Cup doubles this year the gods felt pity on me and sent Chernov to the Russian team as a volleying messiah to teach me how to volley.
At the end of practice we went ballistic on the court. We took a box of balls and started hitting them as hard as we could at the ceiling lights, walls, garbage cans, windows and everything in sight.
Well, it all started fairly innocently… I missed yet another volley and hit the ball at Chernov. He hit it at Korolev, and the next thing you know we are going insane, screaming and launching balls. That could safely be called - the end of practice. Korolev was hitting forehands as hard as he could at the stack of water bottles on the table, then ran up, grabbed a chair and tried to stuff it into a fridge alongside the court where water is usually kept. Chernov was running around the court with his arms flapping in the air like an ostrich in heat, screaming and kicking the empty box and I was lying on the baseline laughing so hard that I got stomach cramps.