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Sampras Joins Davis Cup Team


Pete Sampras may be ranked No. 3 in the world and he may have just played some the best tennis of his life in dispatching Andre Agassi in the Wimbledon final.

But unless he has a dramatic change of heart, Sampras won't be playing singles for the United States in this weekend's Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Sampras and his Davis Cup teammates were together for the first time Monday in preparation for the quarterfinal tie with Australia at Longwood Cricket Club.

Despite a hot streak and entreaties from teammate Todd Martin, Sampras insisted that as a late arrival on a team that has earned a quarterfinal berth without him, his place is on the doubles court with partner Alex O'Brien.

"The last thing I want to do is jump on the bandwagon," he said.

Only injuries to Jim Courier or Martin, the current singles duo, could make him reconsider, Sampras said.

"Unless that happens, I don't think it's right," he said. "I think those guys deserve to play singles. It's their show."

Earlier this year, Sampras refused to play the Davis Cup, a move derided by players such as Courier. But after watching a tape of the U.S. beating Great Britain in dramatic fashion during the first round in April, Sampras had a change of heart.

"It was an inspiration to me," he said.

Knowing his about-face was a sensitive topic with his teammates, Sampras said he'd only play doubles when he announced his willingness to join the team in June.

Since then, Martin has said he'd step aside if coach Tom Gullikson decided to insert Sampras in his singles spot.

"I think Peter should be playing," Martin said. "I've told Tom I think we should have the best team on the court. If he thinks that I'm not part of that, that's fine with me."

Sampras, however, is not persuaded.

"I think Todd's a nice enough guy to step aside," Sampras said. "It's just not something I'm comfortable doing."

Gullikson said the team would meet this week to hash out Sampras' place on the team.

"I don't want to force him to play," Gullikson said. "Unless the other four guys throw him onto the court, I don't think he'll play singles."

Courier thinks that the U.S. team will be in good shape, no matter what's decided.

"Our job is to put a competitive team on the court," he said. "I think either way, we'll have a competitive team."

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