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Leach-Pugh Replaced by Davis-Pate : Tennis: Team was unbeaten in six Davis Cup matches but has played poorly lately.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The United States Tennis Assn. left itself open for some fairly intense second-guessing when it deposed its Davis Cup doubles team of Rick Leach and Jim Pugh less than two weeks before a semifinal showdown against Germany.

Leach and Pugh, who have never lost a Davis Cup doubles match, were replaced Tuesday by Scott Davis and David Pate, who have never won one.

Actually, Davis and Pate will make their Davis Cup debuts as part of the U.S. team’s defense of its title Sept. 20-22 on a red-clay surface in Kansas City, Mo.

The German opposition will probably be a team of Udo Riglewski and Michael Stich.

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U.S. captain Tom Gorman said a prolonged slump by Leach and Pugh forced him to look elsewhere, especially after a second-round loss to unheralded Petr Korda and Karel Novacek in the U.S. Open.

“That was a very disappointing loss,” Gorman said. “Their results all summer were what concerned me, especially when we have other choices, and very good choices at that.”

Australian Open champions Davis and Pate are the No. 2 doubles team, 36-16 for the year, and were finalists at the U.S. Open, where they lost to Anders Jarryd and John Fitzgerald.

Leach and Pugh are No. 8 in the rankings, 6-4 since the French Open and 26-15 for the year, but they are 6-0 in Davis Cup play.

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Their best results this year were on clay. They won at Charlotte, N.C., lost in the French final, then beat Riglewski and Stich in the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“Davis Cup is a tough way to play tennis,” Leach said. “You lose your job. (Davis and Pate) have done so well. I guess they feel they can handle anything. But I think they’ll find out that playing Davis Cup is entirely different.”

Gorman could have chosen Ken Flach and Robert Seguso, the team Leach and Pugh replaced in 1990, but was swayed when Davis and Pate beat them in the U.S. Open semifinals. Leach and Pugh also beat Flach and Seguso in the semifinal at Charlotte.

Flach and Seguso, ranked No. 3, are 10-1 in Davis Cup and have played well on clay this year, which cannot be said of Davis and Pate. The new U.S. doubles team is 0-2 on clay this year.

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Replacing a team undefeated in Davis Cup with a team that has never played Davis Cup nor won a match on clay this year is not exactly playing it safe, but Gorman said more such changes may be expected. “Maybe that’s going to happen more and more in doubles now if one team isn’t performing and other teams are,” he said.

Leach, while acknowledging that that he and Pugh have not played well this summer, said he was surprised by the decision.

“It used to be the USTA would leave you in there if you hadn’t lost,” Leach said. “We aren’t angry. But what they’ve done is a gamble. And it’s a gamble Tom Gorman wanted to take.”

Andre Agassi and Jim Courier will play singles for the United States against Stich and Carl-Uwe Steeb, who replaced Becker after Becker injured his leg at the U.S. Open.

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