Billie Jean King Cup 2022: Great Britain knocked out of qualifiers in doubles decider
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Great Britain have missed out on a place in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals after losing a close 3-2 tie against 11-time champions Czech Republic in Prague.
Britain’s Emma Raducanu and Harriet Dart both won and lost a singles rubber each, setting up a deciding doubles match which went the way of the Czechs.
The British team will now have to compete in a play-off tie in November to reach the qualifying round for the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
Reflecting on an impressive display from the Brits against one of the highest ranked teams in the world, captain Anne Keothavong said: "I feel really proud of all the players and the team effort.
"The fact that we took it to a deciding rubber shows how much guts and courage the players had."
The Czechs got off to a flying start on day one as 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova laid down a marker with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Dart.
But the teams would go into the second day at one rubber each after Raducanu – playing in her first tour-level match on clay – beat world No.50 Tereza Martincova 7-5, 7-5.
After a landmark victory, the US Open champion said: "This one means so much to me because it’s my first match at the Billie Jean King Cup and to represent my team and come out here and get a win on clay, it’s really amazing."
Raducanu then kicked off day two with a battle between both sides top ranked players. However, the young Brit was unable to bring her best, suffering with blisters on her feet as Vondrousova won 6-1, 6-1.
After disappointment in her first match Dart showed what she’s made of in the second match of the day against 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova. Fruhvirtova – who came in as a late call up – threatened to make an incredible comeback, but Dart proved too strong for the young Czech, levelling the tie with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 victory.
"I'm really proud of myself to get through,” she said after the match. “Linda is a great player and I knew it was going to be a really good match. She fought really hard and I am just really pleased to get through.”
The doubles decider would be fought between the in-form Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova, and Britain’s Katie Swan, teaming up with Dart. With the match on the line, the Czechs rose to the occasion, putting in a professional performance to win 6-1, 7-5.
Although the Brits will come away disappointed not to have qualified, they can take a huge amount of positives from the tie against the fifth ranked team in the world, on clay, on the Czechs’ home court.