Adelaide in the running to host Davis Cup tie against China
AUSTRALIAN Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter has supported Adelaide's bid to host the season-opening tie against China in February.
Tennis SA has held talks with Tennis Australia about the tie on grass at Memorial Drive from February 10-12. The bid to regain world group status would be a homecoming for Lleyton Hewitt.
"(It would be) really well received," Rafter said yesterday.
"They love their tennis in Adelaide. There are two other venues that are keen as well and Tennis Australia are now looking at the venues to see the conditions of the grass courts and the facilities.
"I am sure Lleyton would love to play back in Adelaide and there has always been a great crowd for Davis Cup in the past and I wish them well in their pursuit."
Perth, Albury-Wodonga and regional Victorian centres Shepparton and Mildura are also believed to be in contention but TA would not confirm.
TA events director Steve Ayles would not comment on Adelaide's chances. "All venues submitted to Tennis Australia are being assessed," Ayles said.
A decision will not be made until mid-December but Adelaide may also be in the running to host a tie in April.
If successful, Tennis SA will have to either roll grass over centre court at Memorial Drive or improve the surface and infrastructure on the 14 grass courts adjacent to Montefiore Rd.
Rafter said he requests the surface but not the venue.
"I just say `guys this is the surface we want' and it's grass," said Rafter, who will play in the World Tennis Challenge in January. "I think we're a very good grass court nation still and we'll be looking to try to make good use of the home court advantage."
Tennis SA chief executive Alistair MacDonald said he would explore all options to make Adelaide's bid as strong as possible.
"We've put the feelers out to be considered and we believe we're in a good position," he said. "We could build stands on the existing grass courts or put grass on centre court which may or may not be possible.
MacDonald said another option was to take the tie to regional SA including the Riverland.
Adelaide last hosted a Davis Cup tie against Sweden in 2004.
MacDonald said it would be special for Adelaide tennis fans to see former US Open and Wimbledon champion Hewitt on home soil.
"It's not the primary reason you'd have it (tie) here but certainly for people to have the opportunity to see Lleyton they'd love it," MacDonald said.
"Just to say thankyou for his contribution and there's no better format that Lleyton's better at than Davis Cup."
Hewitt could not be contacted for comment.
Rafter hasn't forecast any major changes to Australia's side - which lost to Switzerland in Sydney in September - for the next 12-18 months.
"I think we need to develop the players we've got and hopefully they'll become better in the next few years.
"It's a 5-10 year thing in my book.
"What I've said to the guys throughout the last few months that we were together has been said, I don't need to reiterate any more.
"Every player has certain things they need to work on and now I've been given full rein from Tennis Australia and with that comes responsibility and I'm happy to take that on."