It's been quite a five-month period for John McEnroe. First came a baby girl, then his induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame, and Wednesday he was named captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
"I met with four players -- Pete (Sampras), Andre (Agassi), Todd (Martin) and Jim (Courier)," said USTA President Judy Levering. "They all said they would like to play for John McEnroe."
Having just been introduced as the new captain, McEnroe, said: "You got that on tape, right?"
McEnroe replaces Tom Gullikson, the captain since 1994.
"I tried to lead the U.S. Davis Cup team with integrity," Gullikson said. "I . . . congratulated (John) on his appointment and offered him all my best wishes and support in his quest to bring the Davis Cup back to the U.S.A."
Gullikson's record was 13-5, and his team won the 1995 Davis Cup, but he was roundly criticized for the way he handled situations involving No. 1-ranked Pete Sampras and Todd Martin leading up to, and during, the July quarterfinal his team lost to Australia.
Levering said Gullikson had done "a great job," but now it is time for McEnroe.
"There is nobody in the world more passionate about Davis Cup or tennis in general than John," Levering said. "He is perhaps the greatest Davis Cup player in the history of the sport. John's record as a player was 59-10. . . . I think he will be just as successful as captain."
McEnroe said his priorities are to get Sampras and Agassi back on the team, win the Cup and work on finding the next group of young American players.
"I think he's going to be the best captain yet, by far," said Agassi. "The fact that John is going to be part of it, yeah, I'm looking forward to it. . . . Now, all we have to do is get Pete on board, and we're all good."
Sampras told McEnroe on the air during last night's USA Network telecast of the U.S. Open that "I look forward to playing next year with Andre. . . . It would be pretty special, a dynasty people won't see for a long time."
McEnroe's appointment was greeted with enthusiasm by Hall of Famer Don Budge, who played for the trophy from 1935-38.
"John will do a good job," Budge said. "He'll motivate the guys to practically kill themselves to win matches. John feels as I did that it is a thrill to play Davis Cup. He always put himself out to be part of the Davis Cup team. He's at the top of the list as far as players supporting Davis Cup."
Patrick Rafter will miss Australia's Davis Cup match against Russia because of the shoulder injury that sidelined his U.S. Open-title defense.
"Pat saw the doctor yesterday. . . . He feels that Pat should take at least six to eight weeks off," Australian Davis Cup captain John Newcombe said.
Rafter's absence and the likelihood that Mark Philippoussis (ankle and knee) also will be missing against Russia means Lleyton Hewitt will assume the No. 1 singles position.
Serena Williams and Monica Seles, opponents in the U.S. Open quarterfinals Wednesday night, will be teammates in 10 days.
Williams and Seles are on the U.S. Fed Cup team that will face Russia Sept. 18-19 at Stanford University.
Serena's sister, Venus, and Lindsay Davenport are the other members of the team, giving the United States four of the top six players in the world.