Fed Cup: GB captain Anne Keothavong on Johanna Konta, Heather Watson & children
Naturally everybody within the Nice Britain group is upset after the slender 3-2 Fed Cup defeat in Japan prolonged our 25-year wait to play within the World Group.
It did not go our method this time however that is to not say it will not go our method subsequent yr. You continue to have to attract on the positives. The group spirit was good, the women bought on with one another fantastically nicely.
An occasion like this takes them out of their consolation zone in some ways. As a lot as they take pleasure in it, it’s completely different to how they function on a week-to-week foundation.
Now that I’ve stepped away from the sport as a participant, I wish to remind our gamers that these are weeks you’ll bear in mind for the remainder of your life.
I would like to have the ability to assist them create reminiscences that they’ll look again on with satisfaction and know that they had fun and loved being a part of a group and doing one thing completely different along with completely different folks.
Additionally, it is vital to remind them to maintain the whole lot in perspective. The outcome did not go our method however they’re match, they’re wholesome.
Weeks like this remind me of Elena Baltacha, my former Fed Cup team-mate who died in 2014, and what she delivered to the group and her spirit.
The gamers are doing one thing they love and they’re in a privileged place. Let’s try to keep as upbeat as attainable, get collectively subsequent time and make it occur.
‘I could not ask for extra effort from my gamers’
Johanna Konta was nicely ready for her battle in opposition to Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka in Sunday’s opening singles match.
We spoke in regards to the gameplan on Saturday evening, that is the routine I normally undergo with each gamers after dinner.
I converse to the singles gamers individually so we’re on the identical web page tactically about how they need to play the match, what to anticipate and the important thing phrases for me to make use of after I’m sat on the aspect with them.
Jo is the final word skilled, she takes a excessive degree of depth to the court docket and he or she was actually spectacular in opposition to an in-form participant, who just lately won her first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells.
I assume everybody’s spirit was excessive after her efficiency – she put us in an awesome place along with her victory. Heather Watson led 5-Three and had set factors in her match in opposition to Kurumi Nara – she put herself in a great place however got here up quick.
Perhaps you might say the dearth of wins just lately had an impact, however despite the fact that she was 3-Zero and 5-Three down within the second set, she fought again.
That is all you may ask for as a captain – that your gamers attempt their best possible once they’re on the market on court docket. The remainder you simply have to just accept.
‘Heather was prepared for the doubles’
At 2-2 after Heather’s singles match I needed to have the discuss along with her.
Having spoken to Heather, Jo, Anna Smith and Gabi Taylor in the beginning of the week, everybody was conscious Jo and Heather have been going to be my first decide for the doubles if the tie was nonetheless stay.
I feel it was vital to have that dialog in the beginning of the week so gamers may put together and know the place they stand.
There was no hesitation from Heather after her singles defeat. She needed to play within the doubles.
She was in a position to present me she was actually up for it and that gave me confidence she may produce one thing particular with Jo, who was able to go.
After a nervy begin from our pair, the best way they completed up the primary set was spectacular.
At first of the second set, we had recreation factors and break factors however it did not go our method. That is the character of sport.
Once more the women stored battling and the third set was anybody’s. Bodily, Heather was struggling and the turnaround was tight – 30 minutes between the singles and doubles – however we have been in that place earlier than, she knew what to anticipate, I knew what to anticipate.
We got here up quick and the Japanese group deserved to undergo. The assist was improbable for these British individuals who made the journey out right here – it is fairly spectacular as a result of it is not a straightforward place to get to.
‘Fed Cup promotion extremely powerful’
After the tie, everybody was naturally quiet within the group room and everybody was down. We got here right here with one job in thoughts and could not fairly get there.
We’ve not performed within the World Group stage since 1993 and misplaced three different play-off ties – all the place we have been drawn away – prior to now seven years.
You must decide your self up. It’s a lengthy wait till the subsequent alternative and hopefully there’s time for youthful gamers to boost their degree and compete for a spot within the group.
We are going to preserve making an attempt.
There are two buses again to the lodge from the venue, I used to be on the bus with Jo and for these of us on that bus there was quite a lot of discuss in regards to the Fed Cup format and probably which groups may very well be again in Europe/Africa Group I.
It is an extremely powerful group to get out of. Solely two groups out of 14 have the chance to go to the play-off.
|Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone defined|
|The Europe/Africa Zone is considered one of three continental zones within the second tier, beneath the 2 teams within the World Zone|
|Nice Britain have competed within the Europe/Africa Zone Group I since 2005|
|Within the present format, 14 groups compete throughout 4 teams in a round-robin match on the identical weekend|
|The 4 group winners progress to a knockout part, with the winners of these two ties qualifying for the World Group II play-offs|
|The World Group II play-offs comprise eight groups throughout 4 straight knockout ties|
|The winners compete within the following yr’s World Group II and the losers return into their continental zone|
For most people, it is a troublesome format to observe and it is not in step with the Davis Cup, which is essentially the most irritating factor with Fed Cup.
I did not need to be again there however we’ll preserve making an attempt and that is been the motto of the group – we preserve combating, we preserve making an attempt and considered one of lately hopefully we’ll be capable to have a house tie and play in entrance of a house crowd and expertise what everybody else has within the final 4 occasions we have been on this state of affairs.
‘Weeks like it will assist youthful gamers’
The long run is promising. Gabi Taylor, who’s 20 years outdated and ranked 177th on the earth, has gained quite a lot of matches just lately and now it is time for her to step up and preserve bettering that rating.
I do suppose there’s potential there however our younger gamers nonetheless have quite a lot of work to do. They’ve gained matches at ITF degree however they want to have the ability to increase their recreation at a better degree.
Weeks like it will assist Gabi, she will be able to draw on gamers like Heather and Jo and their expertise, their professionalism and the way they function.
It is an awesome alternative for somebody like her to essentially be taught and take confidence that she been in a position to practise with these women and sustain with them. That also needs to excite the opposite gamers.
I might like to be able the place competitors is admittedly powerful to get on the group.
It is an opportunity for the likes of Gabi, Katie Boulter, Katie Swan, Harriet Dart and Katy Dunne to maintain working laborious, get their heads down and get on with it and really feel like they’ve a shot at being a part of the group.