It's about heart as much as skill

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The United States hasn't won the Davis Cup since 1995. That was an era when Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier were leading the team. Today's a new era, and it's time for a new generation of Americans to win the Davis Cup.

For the next decade, the U.S. Davis Cup team will be lead by Andy Roddick. And it's possible the Bryan brothers will be the Davis Cup doubles team for the next decade.
That fourth spot on the team will be determined round-by-round, but James Blake, Robby Ginepri and Mardy Fish will most likely be rounding out that team.

It's good they are starting off playing 2004 at home in Uncasville, Conn., this weekend (ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET, Fri.). If they happen to win this first round, thye could be traveling to face the defending champions, Australia, which would be a difficult task.

Davis Cup is more than just X's and O's. Who is favored and who is not. It's more about who can come together as a team and produce great tennis in a three-day span. The United States has struggled with that concept since 1996, but it now has everything it takes to win the Davis Cup.

To win the Davis Cup, you don't need the best players in the world; you need players who are able to rise to the occasion at the right time. Not too long ago, France won the Davis Cup with Arnaud Boetsch winning the fifth and final match. That year, tells us that it's more than just whom you have on your team; it's more about the character of the players on your team.

In any given year, any one of the 16 teams can win the Davis Cup. Unfortunately, it's not an event that the public embraces. But the players embrace Davis Cup dearly.

MaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.