Kaohsiung, 31 January 2013 | Darren Pearce
So here we are again in Kaohsiung.
The Australian Davis Cup team is about to embark on another Davis Cup campaign starting from the Asia-Oceania Group zonals … hoping to climb all the way back to the World Group status that has eluded us since 2007.
The sting has gone out of the sun as the Aussies pound away on the slick hard courts that Chinese Taipei has prepared for the Aussies on their first visit since 2008.
All of the singles options have been through their paces – Lleyton Hewitt, Marinko Matosevic, Matthew Ebden.
The Australian squad, which includes Chris Guccione and Luke Saville, has been preparing for this since midway through the Australian Open. They have been in the Chinese Taipei harbour city since the weekend, leaving nothing to chance.
When it comes to Davis Cup examinations the Aussies can never be accused of last minute cramming. They begin planning early, get together early, enjoy the hard work and the journey.
And indeed this is very much a journey of learning and growth for this team.
Pat Rafter has appointed Josh Eagle as coach and kept the legendary Tony Roche in a mentoring role – both for coaches and players.
It is a wise move, utilising the highly respected Roche to help blend the youth and experience in this squad into what they all hope will eventually become a winning team.
The Rafter-Roche-Hewitt work ethic is stamped all over this group.
Their is some time for fun off court, but on court it is all business. No shortcuts.
Appropriately so. Because there are no shortcuts for the Australians toward any sort of Davis Cup success. Just a long road that starts here in Kaohsiung and could take them anywhere from China to Uzbekistan to a World Group Play-off with one of 16 options, and that is just to get back into the World Group for 2014.
Earlier in the week Hewitt was asked by the local media what has changed for him regarding Davis Cup since his last visit. Nothing. He still has a burning desire to represent his country and to get back into the World Group. It appears to be infectious.