Victoria and whole team
Having defeated Japan away, in Tokyo — 3:2, Belarusian tennis players are through to World Group of Federation Cup
Defeating the Japanese was no easy task, despite them being far from top tennis stars. Of course, they battled hard, showing determination, and had the advantage of playing ‘at home’.
On the first day, Victoria Azarenko smashed Misaki Doi — 6:1, 6:2, showing that she’s gradually returning to her previous form. Olga Govortsova also needed to win but sadly lost to Japan’s number one seed, Kurumi Nara (ranked 54th globally). Having fought 4:6, 6:4, 2:6, after the match, Olga showed her frustration, declaring, “I had muscle problems from the second set and my match was my first against a top player in the last six months, which could not but influence my play. Kurumi Nara’s tennis was intense and consistent, which was difficult to ‘break’. Meanwhile, my leg was giving me problems.”
Later Azarenko earned another point for the team, crushing Kurumi Nara — 6:3, 6:3. It was then in the hands of young and inexperienced Sasnovich to beat Auymi Morita, to bring victory to the team. Sasha did her best but lost — 6:7, 6:4, 4:6. It then became clear that tickets to the 2nd World Group would be settled in the doubles. Azarenko arrived on court for the second time that day, partnering Govortsova, who harnessed her willpower.
The girls proved that it’s impossible to lose when you display determination, easily defeating Shuko Aoyama and Auymi Morita — 6:3, 6:4. Asked by Japanese journalists how she felt about playing for her country, Azarenko said, “It means a great deal, as this is a major tournament for the country; it can be compared to the Olympics. The Federation Cup always inspires interest and encourages people to take up tennis. It motivates young players to play hard. My goal is to do everything possible to ensure that Belarusian tennis keeps improving, rising to a new level. It’s been happening for the past fifteen years, since I began playing. Everything is becoming more organised and a certain system is emerging in the Belarusian Federation. I’m happy to be part of it. This is the Belarusian team’s third time in the World Group (following 1999 and 2011).”
Victoria continued, saying, “In 1994, the team played in the World Group, with 32 teams taking part. Now, just 16 teams go through, so it’s even more prestigious. In the 2016 season, eight teams will perform in the 2nd World Group: Australia, Belarus, Spain, Canada, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and the USA. Although it’s not bad company, I think our girls won’t be long at this ‘transit station’, being worthy of climbing greater summits!”
The International Tennis Federation has published a new rating for the Federation Cup. Taking into consideration Belarus’ defeat of Japan, our team has risen to 15th place (before the Tokyo matches, Belarusians were ranked 19th). The ratings are topped by Czech tennis players, followed by those from Russia and Italy.
By Kirill Karin