It was seven hours of exhausting, tension-filled drama. There were courageous comebacks, improbable victories and, finally, redemption.
And a lot of great tennis on a long Saturday that local sports fans will not soon forget.
The record will show that the U.S. defeated Latvia 3-2 in a two-day Fed Cup qualifier at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, drawing a full house of 6,367 fans each day.
That, of course, does not tell the full story.
It wasn’t just that the house was full. The fans chanted and cajoled, trying to will U.S. players to victory. And it certainly worked Friday, with Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams winning in straight sets to give the Americans a 2-0 lead.
It seemed the U.S. would clinch the best-of-five match series quickly Saturday. But there is a reason you play the games.
Kenin, fresh off an Australian Open win, lost in three sets to Jelena Ostapenko. Serena Williams, 14-0 in Fed Cup singles matches, lost 7-4 on a third-set tiebreaker to Anastasija Sevastova in a match where every point was pivotal and draining.
It was no wonder that many left before the pivotal doubles match. How much tension can a fan take in a day?
It ended with Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands beating Ostapenko and Sevastova 6-4, 6-0. The Latvians, understandably, had little left. It was redemption for Kenin, and a great rescue by Mattek-Sands.
No one could say they did not get their money’s worth.
The U.S. wasn’t the only winner. So were Everett and the fans. Both drew raves from the players. They loved the atmosphere. U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said it was “incredible” and “a fantastic two days.”
It was particularly special for Patrick Galbraith, chairman of the board and president of the United States Tennis Association, which put on the event. That’s because he went to high school at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma and lives on Bainbridge Island after a long and successful career as a doubles player on the pro tour.
“I feel like it couldn’t have gone better,” he said. “From the support we got from the community in Everett and the fans – that was great – and I thought our staff and our team obviously did a great job. It was a great success. I think it was the biggest crowd they had in Fed Cup since I think 2003.”
Could the Fed Cup come back to Everett some day?
“I think there is a very good chance,” Galbraith said. “They definitely showed they can support it and I think the city of Everett was very happy with what went on.”