The world of team tennis is rarely on the radar of most sports fans – even casual tennis fans – but the interest level rises when the premier team tennis competition for men (Davis Cup) and women (Fed Cup) appear during intervals of the calendar year. It’s true that the regular pro tennis tour (especially the majors) is what captivates the rabid and casual sports fan . However, something happens when the country you cheer for is involved in team competition – no matter what level it is – the Olympics, World Cup, Davis Cup or Fed Cup.
In the modern era, Canada has had much more success in Fed Cup than in Davis Cup. They made it to the quarterfinals in 1987 on home soil and to the semifinals in 1988. That was in the era of Carling Bassett, Helen Kelesi and Jill Hetherington. Since then, and especially after 1994 when Fed Cup changed its format to allow for the inclusion of many more countries, Canada has struggled to either get to World Group 2 (the second tier of top 8 countries after the top 8 countries in the World Group) or stay in zonal group 1 play. Now, after their performance in Columbia, they have a shot to get back to World Group 2 – and a ranking of the top 16 countries in the world.
They did it with their ‘B’ squad – something that Spain failed to do in Davis Cup – without Aleksandra Wozniak or Rebecca Marino (two of the most talented female tennis players ever to play for Canada) out with injuries/time off and just about to come back on tour. That ‘B’ squad included Eugenie Bouchard (last year’s Wimbledon junior champion), Sharon Fichman (a talented singles/doubles player) and Gabriela Dabrowski (an up and coming tour player). All should be commended for their great effort.
A win in April vs one of the World Group 2 losers will propel Canada back into World Group 2 for 2014. By then, the team should have the talents of Wozniak and Marino. With Bouchard thrown into the mix, I can’t see them losing. All are talented. Marino just needed time away from the game to recharge and Wozniak has had incredibly bad luck with injuries dating back to forearm tendonitis in 2010; being hit with a ball directly in the eye in 2011; and having a shoulder joint sprain in 2012. If anyone needed to be healthy at the peak of her tennis career, it’s Wozniak.
Success breeds success. Having a Canadian tennis player enjoy success on the pro tour, whether it has been Wozniak, Marino, Raonic, Dancevic, Bouchard or Peliwo, the positive vibes that come from that success are priceless. The recent performance in Fed Cup only adds to the strength of Canadian tennis.
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