Independence Day: Haas Considers Pledging Allegiance To U.S. Davis Cup Team
Tommy Haas By Richard Pagliaro
Independence Day may arrive early for Germany's Tommy Haas, who is considering pledging allegiance to the United States Davis Cup team. Haas withdrew from the Germany's Davis Cup tie against Croatia last week following a dispute with the German Tennis Federation, which declined to split the cost of his trainer's salary.
The fifth-ranked Haas holds dual citizenship in Germany and the United States. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, but moved to Bradenton, Florida as a teenager. He graduated from high school in Bradenton where he still lives. In an interview with the German magazine Bunte, the Australian Open semifinalist said he is tired of the treatment he has received from the German Tennis Federation (DTB) and is considering representing the United States in Davis Cup.
"If the DTB won't make a reasonable offer soon, I will play for the U.S. team," Haas told the magazine.
The 23-year-old Haas has been critical of the DTB for what he claims is a lack of financial support. Days after promising German Davis Cup captain Michael Stich he would play for the team, Haas faxed a 12-line letter to the DTB from his Florida home saying his recent dispute with the Federation prevented him from playing. Haas ripped the Federation for refusing to split the cost of his trainer's salary with him.
"I have to pay for my physio (trainer) myself," said Haas in an interview with the German daily Die Welt. "The DTB is apparently not able to support its top player. Where the federation's money goes is a mystery."
German Tennis Federation president Georg von Waldenfels said patriotism should take priority over payment.
"Everyone involved in German tennis have extraordinary regrets about this cancellation," von Waldenfels said. "I cannot understand this at all. It's a sad situation when a few marks play such a role. If it is an honor to play for Germany, money should not be the decisive factor."
Stich, who is making his debut as German captain, said he was surprised and disappointed by Haas's withdrawal.
"I am very disappointed," Stich said. "Tommy is a world-class player and a few days before, he promised me he would play. But he will be turned into a scapegoat. I actually feel sorry for him."
The potential addition of Haas to the existing U.S. squad led by Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick would make the Americans a strong favorite in Davis Cup