Tennis: McEnroe homes in on Davis Cup job: US captain comes under pressure

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THE ominous prospect of John McEnroe being placed in a seat of authority beside the umpire's chair as the non-playing captain of the United States' Davis Cup team appeared to take another step towards fulfilment yesterday.

McEnroe launched a scathing attack on the incumbent, Tom Gorman, for the failure to make a successful defence of the trophy in Australia two weeks ago, even though America's leading players had virtually surrendered the first-round tie by declining to travel.

'I don't think there's a chance in hell Gorman will be back next year,' McEnroe told the Los Angeles Times. 'And if there is, it would be the biggest joke of all time. I mean, enough is enough . . . eight years.'

J Howard 'Bumpy' Frazer, the president of the United States Tennis Association, pointed out that Gorman had a contract for 1993, but added: 'John has been the greatest contributor to the US Davis Cup team in recent history and I think he would make a fine captain.'

McEnroe, 34, who effectively retired as a full-time tournament player in December, has campaigned for Gorman's job for more than a year. Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, McEnroe's team-mates in the triumphant 1992 final against Switzerland in Forth Worth, have expressed support for the New Yorker - in the same breath saying that they had no objection to playing for Gorman, except when it came to the journey to Melbourne.

In the absence of Courier and Sampras, the world No 1 and No 2 respectively, and Agassi, the Wimbledon champion, the United States were defeated, 4-1, on grass at Kooyong.

Gorman, whose 17-6 record makes him America's most sucessful captain, selected David Wheaton, ranked No 47, instead of MaliVai Washington, ranked No 12, to contest the singles with the experienced Brad Gilbert. The captain had considered Michael Chang, who did not feel his baseline game suited the surface, and had approached Ivan Lendl, a US citizen since July, who said he was not match fit.

'Let's put it this way,' McEnroe said, 'if I was captain, I wouldn't have gone down there without Agassi and Sampras. Gorman got another chance because, basically, I stepped away from it and said you don't change a guy on a winning note. Even though I was coaching these guys anyway. It wasn't like he was doing anything.

'Look at the selections he made. Not to give a guy like Washington a chance is completely absurd. And not to pressure a guy like Lendl to play. Why doesn't Lendl want to play? It's such a joke.

'I'm losing interest. I feel like I would make a good Davis Cup captain, but what I don't like is this perception that I'm going around begging for the job.' Canvassing, perhaps?