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We hear all kinds of chatter these days about The Golden Age of this sport or The Golden Age of that sport in lots of countries in the world and we’re going to get a sniff of it this weekend here.
The Canadian roster for the Davis Cup tie vs. the Netherlands down at whatever they call the Coliseum down at the Ex now is a veritable Murderer’s Row of Canadian men’s tennis.
Okay, maybe it’s not the ’27 Yankees but Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil and The Great And Ageless Daniel Nestor is absolutely as good as it gets. The Dream Team, perhaps?
And to get ’em all together on one “team” in front of home fans is pretty neat for all the tennis aficionados out there, and you know who you are.
It also gets to my point, in a rather long-winded way, that as quirky as the Davis Cup is, and there’s some substantial quirk there, it’s going to be missed when it’s gone.
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Now, I’m not a huge Davis Cup fan by any stretch but there was something cute and weird about it that captured the attention.
It seemed to pop up at random points in the calendar, it was totally confusing whether they were playing in this year’s World Group or trying to get into next year’s World Group, the surface was clay one time, hardcourts the next, maybe grass every now and then and, who knows, rocks once in a while?
Sometimes it was indoors, sometimes it was outdoors. I think they picked home teams at random.
Fans were encouraged to cheer and wave flags, bang drums, sing songs and, well, act like fans. Ties — and why they came up with that name is beyond me — always seemed to be played in odd little venues.
Davis Cup tennis, to the uninitiated like me, was the Odd Uncle of the tennis family, someone who might be a bit embarrassing at some level but loved nonetheless. You’d hold your breath, but you’d invite him to holiday dinners.
Now the Davis Cup is changing to some end of the season multi-country “tournament” or something like that and it will likely be a bit soul-less, it was likely be a bit ignored because it’s just another jumbo event.
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So if you’re going this weekend, take a flag, make some noise, have fun. You might miss it when it’s gone.
Plus, The Golden Age!
No, I’m not in Montreal for the Canadian men’s basketball game Thursday night — we’re still in a saving-money mode and I’ll try to tell some stories from far away — and, yeah, I wish I was there.
One reason? It’d be cool to talk to the head coach of the Brazil team today or tomorrow because there’s some history there perhaps worth investigating.
Who is he?
How about Croatian Aleksander Petrovic whose brother, Drazen, you might have heard of. Bet there’s a story or two there.
All right, had a few notes on the item the other morning about Serena Williams that could fill up the mailbag but there really aren’t a lot of questions among them.
So you need to do your part at email@example.com and send along some legit queries for Sunday morning.
The more, the merrier and you’ll regret it if you don’t help out.
And now, here’s a thing we need to talk about.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re going to a “registration” system at thestar.com and, yeah, it’s eventually going to end up in some kind of subscription service where, after a set number of “free” views each month it’s going to cost something to see all of the work that we do.
I don’t know what that number will be, I don’t know precisely when it’s coming but it is and, not to put too fine an edge on it, it’s the thing that could save us.
Two things I try to live my life by are: not telling people (a) how to raise their children or (b) how to spend their money. But I’m gonna got off the chalk on the latter right now.
If there’s one thing I think most right-thinking people have come to realize in the last couple of years, it’s that producing world-class important journalism costs money, big money, and, as we know, advertising revenue does not carry the weight like it used to.
You see the amazing work we do with investigations that effect real change, you see our political reporters and columnists speak truth to power and do incredible work. We are important and we do a very good job fulfilling the trust that readers have in us.
I can’t say it much clearer than this:
It’s important to have impartial, serious, very good journalism in society today, perhaps more than any other time in our history. This is not necessarily a personal plea — our stuff is good and my stuff is fun and I would hope as entertaining as it is informative — but the totality of what the Star brings you cannot be under-stated. We are important.
As I said, I don’t know the cost, I do know that a subscription to the print edition won’t entail any extra outlay of money, but I would urge you to consider spending on what I think is a damn good product.
I understand if you don’t want to, or can’t. I would hope you’d understand that we are exhausting all of our resources to keep doing what we do so well.
Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps