Fed Cup tennis returned to the shores of Great Britain for the first time in 26 years. The University of Bath was chosen as host of the Europa/Africa Zone Group 1 from Wednesday 6th to Saturday 9th February 2019, with the overall winner being promoted to a World Group II play-off in April.
Eight nations were drawn into two groups of four, competing in a round-robin format. Great Britain, Greece, Hungary and Slovenia were drawn into Group A, with Croatia, Georgia, Serbia and Turkey in Group B.
(For those unsure how the Fed Cup works, a guide can be accessed here.)
Group matches took place from Wednesday to Friday , with Great Britain and Serbia coming out on top and contesting the play-off on the Saturday.
Which was lucky for me as I’d managed to get tickets for that Saturday afternoon session a few weeks back, for the decent price of £13. There is little point delving into the University of Bath, as it’s unlikely to be hosting another major sporting event any time soon, the Uni is about 2 miles east of Bath itself (luckily I found some free parking about a 25 minute walk away for those really interested). However, any prospective students who have accidentally stumbled upon this post hoping for a real insight into the University, the sports facilities did look impressive and I have heard great things.
The University of Bath did seem an unusual low-key choice for the first home tie Britain had hosted in 26 years. However, I assume organisers considered the opponents on offer not to be high-profile, together with the logistics of hosting a 8 team competition.
Inside the ‘Sports Training Village’, the courts were intimate enough to feel up close to the action and I so happened to be sat directly behind the vocal Serbian team. There must of been a couple of thousand in the ‘arena’, with lots of British fans around in red ‘Back the Brits’ t-shirts, hitting ‘thunder sticks’ and shouting improvised chants creating a solid atmosphere inside.
The first match saw rising star Katie Boulter give an efficient performance as she defeated her Serbian opponent, Ivana Jorović 6-4 6-3. The second match however was more dramatic as Johanna Konta edged the first set 7-6 against the feisty Aleksandra Krunić, losing the second 6-3 and fainting between sets. She managed to complete a turnaround in the third set to win 6-2 and give Great Britain overall victory, subsequent interview’s revealing she was suffering with illness.
So on to the World Group II play-off Great Britain progress, finding out their next opponents on Monday. If they are awarded a home tie in April it will be very interesting to see where the LTA play the tie. The Davis Cup team has had much success at the Commonwealth Arena in Glasgow in recent years, with other ties played at indoor courts in Birmingham, Bolton, Coventry and Liverpool. The grass courts of Eastbourne, Edgbaston or Queen’s are probably unlikely given the time of year. Perhaps if Bath is chosen again, I’ll update this blog with further details.
Update: Great Britain have been drawn against Kazakhstan in the World Group II Play-off, with the Copper Box Arena in London confirmed as the host of the tie.