‘Leader’ Watson may yet miss out
HEATHER WATSON is fit and ready to answer her country’s call – but remains unsure whether that call will actually come.
The 26-year-old Sarnian is one of five players selected to represent Great Britain in a series of highly-anticipated Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 matches being played this week at the University of Bath.
Although Johanna Konta is likely to be involved in singles action, being the highest ranked British player, a question mark remains even at this late stage over the identity of the second GB singles competitor.
Up until recently that honour would almost certainly have gone to Watson, the most experienced of the five players when it comes to Fed Cup action having competed in 31 previous ties, boasting a win-loss record of 20-9 in singles and 8-3 in doubles.
However, Watson suffered a miserable 2018 and has been leapfrogged in the world rankings by Katie Boulter, who became the new British number two following last month’s Australian Open.
Many seasoned tennis watchers believe GB team captain Anne Keothavong will select Boulter for the opening clash against Slovenia, which gets under way later this afternoon.
Depending how that goes, Watson’s experience could then come into play when GB face Greece and Hungary on Thursday and Friday respectively.
‘In Jo and Heather we have our most experienced team leaders who have competed in more than 50 ties combined, [but] Katie Boulter wore the GB shirt last year for the first time and since then has risen inside the world’s top 100,’ says Keothavong, who has made no hints so far regarding her likely selection choice.
GB are one of eight nations split into two groups competing in Bath to secure just one qualification spot for the Fed Cup World Group II Play Offs in April.
Teams will play two singles and a doubles match against each of the other three countries in their respective groups, with the two group winners advancing to a final on Saturday to determine who lands the coveted qualification spot.
Katie Swan and Harriet Dart have also been selected in the GB team alongside Konta, Watson and Boulter, with both players standing a good chance of featuring in at least one of the doubles matches.
‘It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but it’s a challenge we relish and hope to give the home crowd something to cheer about,’ added Keothavong.