Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers 2023: Great Britain knocked out by France in Coventry
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Great Britain missed out on their chance to reach the Billie Jean King Cup Finals later this year after losing 3-1 to France at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Coventry.
The Brits were defeated by the narrowest of margins, having lost four of five tie-break sets in six hours of play on the opening day and then two more three-set epics to see out the win for France.
The loss means that the Brits will have to compete in a Play-off tie on either 10-11 or 11-12 November later this year, for a chance to battle it out once again in the 2024 Qualifiers.
"These weeks are always tough and you win some, you lose some – but I am so proud of this team," said Great Britain's captain, Anne Keothavong. "They left it all out there on the court. It’s great to finish on a positive and to get one rubber on the board, because this team deserves it, but ultimately the better team won and I’d like to congratulate France.
"I want to finish up by thanking everyone who came out today and yesterday to support. This competition isn’t what it is without the fans and it means so much to us that you come out and support and our players, so thank you so much."
The tie began with an absolute blockbuster between world No.5 and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia and Great Britain’s Katie Boulter.
In a match that lasted three hours and 29 minutes, both Garcia and Boulter showed real quality, but in the end, the French star had just enough to come back from a set and then a break down in the deciding set to edge a 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(2) win.
Then it was over to British No.3 Harriet Dart up against the world No.70, Alize Cornet for another nail-biting tussle in front of the home fans.
Dart led by a break three times in the opening set and showed some of her best tennis throughout the match, but in the end was unable to push past the relentless consistency and variation in Cornet’s game – just losing out 7-6(6), 7-6(3).
Britain went into day two with it all to do but taking encouragement from two epic battles against players ranked significantly higher and there were more thrills to come on Saturday.
Dart and Garcia – both team’s top-ranked players – opened up another action-packed day with a rollercoaster three-set battle.
Dart fought well to get back on level terms after a dominant opening set for Garcia, but in the end the world No.5’s experience helped push her over the line 6-1, 6-7(10), 6-1.
The British doubles duo showed great spirit to come from 5-3 down to win the first set and then from 8-2 down in the match tie-break to claim nine of the next 10 points to win the match 7-5, 3-6, 11-9.