Excitement for Davis Cup in full swing after draw ceremony

Liz Farmer

Massive American and Spanish flags framed Austin band Asleep at the Wheel as they opened the Davis Cup's draw ceremony and belted “Happy Trails” with a country twang Thursday.

This year is the first time Austin hosts the 111-year-old tournament. Ticket sale revenue from the draw ceremony, which sold out in less than two weeks, went to relief efforts for tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo.

The American and Spanish tennis teams will play five sold-out matches at the Frank Erwin Center from July 8-10. The draw ceremony determined and announced the match-ups for the weekend.

More than 700 people attended the draw ceremony, said Keri-Dawn Solner, a private events coordinator for Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater, where the event was held.

The United States Tennis Association created more opportunities for public participation this year by including open practices and the music at the draw ceremony.

“Usually it’s just a press event, but for the first time they opened it up to the public,” Solner said. “They turned it into more of a lunchtime musical performance.”

Ray Benson, lead singer for Asleep at the Wheel who plays tennis recreationally, drew the names of the tennis players to determine this weekend’s match-ups.

Midland business owner Jeremy Jones brought his family to see the Davis Cup and the draw ceremony.

“It gave a great taste of Texas — the whole music vibe with tennis,” Jones said. “They really did a good job of making those worlds come together.”

Local disc jockey Bobby Bones hosted the draw and brought Austinite Andy Roddick’s second grade teacher on stage. Karon Wheeless, the retired teacher, said even in elementary school Roddick had an interest in tennis that could be seen in the classroom.

“I did find out that the best place for Andy was in the back because he could get up and practice his back swing,” Wheeless said.

American Team Captain Jim Courier said fans have shown a great deal of energy that he expects to see at the matches.

“You should treat it a little bit like a college football team — in between the points,” Courier said. “We’d like you to clap a little louder for the American team.”