ITF says Australia-U.S. match played on wrong surface

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The International Tennis Federation says that the first-round Davis Cup match between Australia and the United States should have been played on hardcourts, and not grass.

It said the confusion came from a three-way ''oversight'' by the ITF, the United States Tennis Association and Tennis Australia.

In 1999, the last time Australia and the U.S. met in the Davis Cup, Australia should have hosted the matches. But a decision was made by the ITF to stage a 100th-anniversary celebration of the Davis Cup at Longwood Cricket Club near Boston.

The ITF placated Australia by allowing the matches to be played on hardcourt instead of clay, which the Americans preferred.

In exchange, the three groups agreed that the next time the two countries played, the matches would be played on hardcourts.

But 17 years later, that agreement was overlooked when Australia, with its new captain Lleyton Hewitt, announced grass as the surface for this weekend's tie at Kooyong, which is level 1-1 going into Saturday's doubles.

''Part of the agreement to award the tie to USA was that Australia would receive choice of ground for the next two rotations and that the surface for the 1999 tie and the next tie would be hard court with Australia having choice on the third tie,'' the ITF's Barbara Travers said in a statement.

''USA and Australia did not meet again until 2016 and, while the notes in the ITF database did include the reversal of choice for the next two subsequent ties, it did not specify the surface requirement for the next tie currently being played in Australia. This was an oversight by the ITF, USTA and TA which all acknowledge and will refer to the Davis Cup Committee. While neither nation remembered the condition attached to this tie, now that it has been brought to their attention both Australia and USA, in the spirit of sportsmanship ... have agreed to accept the decision of the committee regarding surface for the future tie.''

The USTA's managing director of communications, Chris Widmaier, said he hoped for a successful outcome for the Americans the next time the teams meet Down Under.

''We recognize that an oversight has taken place regarding the playing surface for the first round Davis Cup match taking place in Kooyong,'' he said. ''We look forward to working with the ITF and Tennis Australia on how this oversight will be corrected the next time that the U.S. and Australia compete in Australia.''

Both Hewitt and Jim Courier, the current U.S. captain, played in that 1999 quarterfinal match near Boston which Australia won and went on to clinch the title that year over France in the final. It was also the 18-year-old Hewitt's debut in Davis Cup play.

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