I don't care what anyone says - cause James brings interest to the ATP tour. Can we not imagine all the mamas that will be approaching him in the future - trying to put in a good word on the behalf of their daughters?
"WAY TO CARRY IT JAMES" "YOU JUST GO BOY"
Blake Leaves On Winning Note
July 21, 2002
By ROBERTO GONZALEZ, Courant Staff Writer
James Blake was playing in his last game with the Hartford FoxForce so it was fitting the outcome against the Philadelphia Freedoms came down to his singles match. But pressure situations are nothing new for Blake, who has played in the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.
Saturday, he was at Riverside Park in Hartford. Standing in his way was Levar Harper-Griffith, an up-and-coming American. Blake broke Harper-Griffith to win the set and tie the match, then won the super-tiebreaker to lead the FoxForce to a 19-18 victory before 525.
Blake, who won the set 5-1, defeated Harper-Griffith 7-3 in the super-tiebreaker.
"He took a very good player and tore him up," FoxForce coach Paul Assaiante said. "That's the kind of thing [Jimmy] Connors would do. These guys come out and they just tear people up and tonight because his back was against the wall, it was the first time we've seen James dig deep. It's unbelievable."
The FoxForce were down 17-13 after Blake and Murphy Jensen lost their doubles match to Jonathan Stark and Harper-Griffith, 5-1.
"We were down pretty big because of the doubles and they played great," Blake said. "All I had to do was go for my shots in the singles match, take my chances and they were going in."
Blake also had to endure a 25-minute delay as a shower stopped play with Harper-Griffith serving. During the delay, Blake kidded with fans, signed autographs and posed for photos.
"I appreciate the fans who stayed out here during the rain delay," Blake said. "In an ATP Tour [event] you're hurried into a locker room then hurried right back out. It's a little more businesslike, but there still can be distractions in ATP matches, so I think this can help me."
Blake played four matches with the FoxForce this season, the first three on the road.
"I had such a good time playing for the team in Hartford," Blake said. "It's a lot of fun. I hope I have a chance to do this more often."
Blake has meant a lot to the franchise. Aside from his state ties - he grew up in Fairfield - Blake has established himself as a top American player and mainstay on the U.S. Davis Cup team. This was his second year with the FoxForce (he also played in 2000) and Assaiante had noticed a big change.
"It's been great having James," Assaiante said. "He has become physically stronger. He has also become a little bit more mature in his game."
Blake signed autographs and posters before the match and was an obvious fan favorite.
"We're sad to see him go," FoxForce owner Lisa Wilson-Foley said. "It's been too short. It hasn't been enough home games. Hopefully next year he'll be able to play a little bit more in Hartford. It's going to be fun to watch James play the next 10 years [on the ATP Tour] and hopefully he'll save a little time for World Team Tennis."
The FoxForce are 5-4 with five matches left.
"Goodbye James," Assaiante said with a laugh. "We'll fight. I can promise you that."