Net love for Calgary

WES GILBERTSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

For Canada's stable of top tennis talent, there's no place quite like the Corral.

Back in Cowtown for an opening round Davis Cup shootout against Mexico, the Canucks will tell anybody within earshot this is exactly where they want to be.

"For us, it's our home-court. It feels like we've been coming here for a long time, and we've been very successful here so far," said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. "It's our intention to keep it that way.

"The players will tell you that whenever they go back to a tournament where they've done really well, the good feelings come back and you feel really good even before anything begins.

"This is the way we feel at the moment."

Laurendeau and his Canadian contingent -- veterans Daniel Nestor, Frank Dancevic and Frederic Niemeyer and up-and-comer Peter Polanksy -- faced the Calgary media yesterday, leaving the impression their effusive praise for the city is about much more than simply sucking up to the hometown scribes.

Team Canada is undefeated in four Davis Cup ties at the Corral, a string that includes sweeps of Columbia, Chile and Peru and an upset of Brazil.

"We've had so many good memories here. We're 4-0, and we've won pretty convincingly against some good teams, and I think we're expecting the same this weekend," said Nestor, Canada's most experienced Davis Cup competitor with a career record of 37-18, including 7-0 at the Corral.

"I love playing here, and as long as I'm on the team or these guys are on the team, I'm sure we'll be happy coming back to Calgary."

"We've all had great wins here, individually and as a team, as well," echoed Niemeyer. "We come back here, and we have great memories, and we feel good from the start, so I think that helps to perform."

On paper, Canada is favoured to advance and earn a second-round date against Chile.

The core of the Canadian squad is coming off impressive individual campaigns. Nestor captured four doubles titles in 2007, while Dancevic defeated American star Andy Roddick en route to advancing to his first ATP final and soared as high as No. 65 in the world rankings. Not to be outdone, Niemeyer won four singles titles, albeit not on the top circuit.

But extending their winning streak to five straight at the Corral won't be an easy task against the Mexicans.

Mexico boasts an all-time 18-5 record against Canada in Davis Cup action and won the last meeting between the two, a 2006 matchup in Mexico City.

Their top player, Bruno Echagaray, has defeated Dancevic in the past, and the altitude in Calgary, which has caused fits for other squads, won't be a big deal for this weekend's guests, as Mexico City sits higher above sea level.

"They're talented, and I think it's going to be tough because they're comfortable in these conditions, too," said Nestor.

"It's going to make for some close matches."

The Davis Cup tie kicks off Friday with a pair of singles matches. The three-day event also includes a doubles showdown Saturday and two more one-on-one battles Sunday.

The Canadians, who love playing on the fast Taraflex surface at the Corral, are hoping to jump out to an early lead. But if it comes down to Sunday's singles matchups, Niemeyer thinks the Canadian crowd could make the difference.

"That's the great thing about Davis Cup, is you get that atmosphere that you don't get at any other tournaments, when you get the support and that extra push," Niemeyer said.

"That's why our record is so good at home."


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