WASHINGTON --Playing on the U.S. Davis Cup team seemed to be far off when MaliVai Washington was an All-America tennis player at the University of Michigan.
But now, the 27-year-old from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., only has to wait a couple of months to make his debut on the Davis Cup team on Sept. 24.
Washington, Andre Agassi, Richey Reneberg and Patrick McEnroe were named to the U.S. team that will compete against the Bahamas in Charlotte, N.C. All four are competing in the Newsweek Tennis Classic at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center this week.
Washington, who is ranked No.16 by the ATP, is the highest-ranked singles player on the U.S. Davis Cup team. Agassi is ranked No.21. In doubles, McEnroe is ranked No.3 and Reneberg No.5.
"You can't get much more adrenalin running through you or excitement than playing for the United States," Washington said. "It's kind of like playing in the Olympics. It's an honor.
"I feel real good about it. I didn't want to get my hopes up like I did the last time," said Washington, who felt overlooked when he did not make the last Davis Cup team.
Agassi said: "It's a very important [match] for us. My first choices--would have been Pete [Sampras] or Jim [Courier] or [Michael] Chang, but I think Mal is definitely up there as far as the better players in American tennis, and I think we're going to be fine. I'm looking forward to playing with him, and I'm glad he has a chance to experience it."
Washington, who is seeded third in the Newsweek tournament, breezed past Luiz Mattar of Brazil, 6-3, 6-2, yesterday to advance to tonight's third-round match against Jeff Tarango. Washington won 93 percent of his points off his first serve and scored nine aces.
Reneberg and McEnroe also advanced to the third round in singles. Reneberg defeated Alex Antonitsch, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-1.
McEnroe beat Joao Cunha-Silva, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.