By Ed Pearson
Russia’s Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev has joined a select group of individuals whose contribution to tennis has been recognised jointly by the Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Federation.
The 63-year-old, who is also president of the Russian Tennis Federation and captain of the Russian Davis Cup team, was presented with the Golden Achievement Award before play started on the final day here in Moscow.
Tarpischev was presented with his award by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and vice president of the Russian Tennis Federation Roman Murashkovsky on court in front of many of Russia’s former tennis stars, including Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
The Golden Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual who has made important contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion or education, and who has devoted long and outstanding service to the sport.
Tarpischev fits the bill perfectly having spent 21 years as president of the Russian Tennis Federation, 34 years as captain of the Davis Cup team and 15 years as Fed Cup captain.
The widely-respected elder statesman of the game only became captain of the Davis Cup team because no-one else wanted to do the job and has subsequently overseen something of a revolution in the success of the sport in his home country.
He is the most successful captain in terms of both Davis Cup and Fed Cup titles won and through his hard work and determination Russia has become a tennis powerhouse.
A handy way to travel
By Craig Gabriel
The metro system in Moscow is pretty good. It’s inexpensive and the stations are incredibly ornate; some even could be described as quite beautiful. There is also a public bus network and regular taxis, but those are not the only ways to get around Moscow. Another alternative is the “hand taxi”. What? Yup, you read correctly, the “hand taxi”.
Stand on the side of a street and flag down a car and just regular drivers will pull over. You try and converse with them on where you need to go and negotiate a price. It can be quite amusing. I’ve tried it a few times but not on my own; I’ve been with someone who speaks broken Russian and he swears it’s very safe to do. It’s certainly a way cheaper option than a regular taxi and you usually get to ride in one of Russia’s relics, a Lada car. That’s worth the experience.
Ones to watch in 2012
By Chris Archer
The dust has barely settled on this weekend’s epic tussle between Russia and Czech Republic, but my thoughts are already starting to flit ahead to next year and which nations might be battling to lift the trophy in 12 months time, for the new Fed Cup season comes around quickly!
This year’s two finalists, Russia and Czech Republic, are clearly going to be contenders again in 2012. For starters they’re the top two seeds so in theory they should benefit from a decent first round draw, although that hasn’t actually materialised for both nations.
I’m sure the Russians, who remain as strong as ever with 11 players currently ranked inside the world’s Top 100, will be fairly content with their home tie against Spain, to be played at the same venue as this weekend’s Final, the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, but the Czechs face a tricky trip to Stuttgart to face an up-and-coming German team that will be sniffing the chance of an upset.
Germany were surprisingly relegated to World Group II in 2010, although this set-back seemed to serve as a catalyst to rejuvenate a new wave of young talent. This year they stormed back to the top tier with comprehensive wins over Slovenia and USA, and now the likes of Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges provide the Germans with a realistic chance of challenging for glory.
The Czechs, on the other hand, have a good blend of youth and experience, and in the shape of Petra Kvitova they have the hottest property in the women’s game right now. The 21-year-old leftie began this year ranked No. 34 in the world, but she ends it as the No. 2, and the Wimbledon champion to boot.
The tie that stands out as an absolute cracker in next year’s first round is Belgium at home to Serbia, in Charleroi. The Belgians are going in search of their second Fed Cup title, while the Serbians are still bidding for their first. Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters and Yanina Wickmayer are expected to spearhead the Belgian challenge, while the Serbians will be hoping that Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, both former world No. 1s, are available for selection.
You can never rule out the Italians, either, as their experienced line-up can definitely still pack a punch. Italy, crowned champions in 2006, 2009 and 2010, can boast a team that includes former Roland Garros winner Francesca Schiavone alongside Flavia Pennetta. Italy open up by hosting Ukraine, in Biella.
So the destination of the Fed Cup trophy in 2012 is wide open. My tip is for Belgium, if they can keep Clijsters fit for the whole season, to reach the Final from the top half, and Germany to come through in the bottom half. One thing is for sure, next year’s Fed Cup competition is shaping up to be one of the closest ever!