The retirement of Andy Roddick resulted in a moment of reflection for the Netheads, the group which has been following and supporting the US Davis Cup team since 2001, since without Andy Roddick, there would be no Netheads.
The founder of the Netheads was a teammate with Andyâ€™s brother John at the University of Georgia.Â When Andy was named to the Davis Cup team, a decision was made to follow Johnâ€™s younger brother.Â Little did that initial group of three Netheads, cheering for Andy in Winston- Salem shortly after 9/11, realize the Netheads would be cheering Andy for the next 10 years.
Andy has always been an easy player to cheer.Â It starts with a simple thing, such as a two syllable name making for more rhythmic cheers (e.g. letâ€™s go Andy, Here we go Andy).Â Add to that the booming serve, which has usually resulted in a substantial ace count (as high as 39 in a match against Tursunov in Moscow), almost always exceeding his opponent.Â Â Last, but not least, cheering for a winning player is always easier and Andy gave us so many victories to cheer.Â But even in his defeats, he was giving his all, which caused the Netheads to give their all, trying to help pull him through.
I just finished reviewing Andyâ€™s Davis Cup matches.Â I missed his first victory, a dead rubber win against Switzerland in 2001 (For those not fully knowledgeable of Davis Cup terminology, a dead rubber is a match that does not count because one of the teams has already one 3 matches to win the tie â€“ it is basically an exhibition match), but I have been there for the other 44 singles matches he played.Â Â After all those matches and years, my favorite Andy Roddick Davis Cup story has nothing to do with what happened on the court:
In September 2002, I attended a Davis Cup match as a Nethead for the first time.Â The USA played France on the beautiful red clay courts of Roland Garros, definitely not the favorite surface for Americans.Â Andy, at the age of 20, lost to Clement on the first day and then lost to Sebastien Grosjean on Sunday, which was the third point for the French, resulting in their victory.Â I cannot tell you about any points in the match but I can relate what happened shortly after Andyâ€™s loss to Grosjean.
It was a unique group of Americans at Roland Garros.Â In addition to the Netheads, there were 160 high schoolers from Houston, Texas, along with their chaperones.Â Â The owner of GalleryFurniture.Com had paid for all these Houstonians to come to Paris to cheer the USA team.Â We Netheads mixed with the Houstonians in the stands.
About a set into James Blakeâ€™s dead rubber match, Andy Roddick started climbing into the stands toward our group.Â He was giving the French security folks heart failure, this being shortly after the first anniversary of 9/11.Â But Andy made the climb before they could stop him.
Andy came into our group, thanking us for coming and supporting him and the team.Â And to show how much he appreciated the fans, he sat on the step right next to me to let these high school kids, mainly the young ladies, to take his picture and chat with him.Â I still remember him telling one young lady, in those pre-digital days, that she may want to remove the lens cap before taking her picture.
As a father my first thought was how proud his parents would be.Â Here was a 20 year-old kid, who had to be feeling bad for losing two tough matches for his country, with the composure and poise to come into the stands to thank us for coming.Â Nothing Andy could accomplish on the court would ever make a bigger impression than his actions in the stands that day.
Andyâ€™s retirement reminded me of the highs and lows in sports as well as life.Â You always cannot end your career as you would like.Â In the Davis Cup world, I was there in Houston when Pete Sampras lost his last Davis Cup match to Alex Corretja on grass.Â I know it was the only Davis Cup match Alex ever won on grass and I think it is the only grass court match he ever won.Â Â Pete, who had almost single-handedly beat the Russians in 1995 to give us the Cup, ends up with such a loss.
For Andy,Â a goal of his was to bring the Davis Cup to his adopted home of Austin, Texas.Â Last year Andy was able to accomplish this goal but the result was not what he wanted as he lost day one to David Ferrer and the USA went down to defeat.Â So Andy, who had been the leader as the USA took out the Russians for the Cup in 2007, ends his Davis Cup career with a loss at his home.Â Rather ironic that it was Russia and Spain for both Pete and Andy.
But we Netheads owe so much to Andy.Â Because of him, many of us have gone to places in the USA and around the world we never would have gone otherwise.Â We have had the opportunity to learn most sports fans are the same around the world; we will cheer for our teams but after the match is over, we shake hands and congratulate the winners.Â And we have had the chance to build great friendships in the Nethead family.
Thanks for everything Andy.Â And if you are ever interested, we have a nethead ready for you.
By David Foster – Nethead
Editor’s Note: Full disclosure, the editor-in-chief of this website is a former Nethead. As spectator,Â fan or as media, she’s attended more than 20 Davis Cup ties in her lifetime.
The Netheads are a group of dedicated tennis fans who travelÂ all over the world to support the US Davis Cup team. They adorn themselves in red, white and blue and wear part of a tennis net on their heads while they cheer.
Tennis Panorama News will have Davis Cup coverage later this week from the Spain versus the US tie and in Montreal from the Canada versus South Africa tie.