Davis Cup action back in Christchurch after eventful build-up

Fri, Feb 3

It's witnessed some of the most memorable moments in New Zealand tennis history and this weekend will be another chapter for Wilding Park.

The Christchurch venue is hosting a sold-out Davis Cup tie against Bulgaria this weekend and a man who made his name on the old grass courts in eastern parts of the Garden City is back, along with one of his players, fresh from the Auckland floods.

New Zealand's most experienced Davis Cup singles player, Rubin Statham, is back in the fold although the recent flooding nearly ruled him out.

"I was heading home from Albany Tennis Centre and the on-ramp of the highway is inclined and all the water came down and it ended up the car went floating and turned off and all the fumes were coming in," Statham recalled.

"I was pretty lucky actually, there was a four-wheel drive truck behind me that came and nudged me forward through the water.

"I was considering jumping out."

Statham said the experience was unlike anything he's ever seen.

"I've done sky diving seven times but this was probably a little more worrying than that," he said.

"It was an interesting one. I was filming at the start and then was like, 'woah, this is serious'."

Statham said he didn't get to meet the driver of the truck that helped him out but thanked them regardless.

It's a sentiment matched by his Davis Cup teammates who now get to have him be part of their first home fixtures since pre-Covid days.

Kelly Evernden, now New Zealand's non-playing captain, tasted success on the park's old grass courts in 1990.

"I think they're excited - it's a great venue," Evernden said.

"I know Canterbury crowds in the past have been pretty raucous and one-sided and we are hoping that be the case this time.

"We've had some great memories playing Davis Cup here so maybe we can create another."