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Murray ready for Fed Cup debut

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Originally published on: 31/01/12 18:08

When Judy Murray announced the British Fed Cup line-up, her first as captain, she spoke enthusiastically of the ‘great balance of experience and youth’ in a team made up of Fed Cup vets Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong, youngster Heather Watson and debutant Laura Robson.

The British team, whose four players all rank inside the world’s top 120, will need to call on all their strength in depth if they are to earn promotion out of Europe/Africa Group 1, their home for the last eight years of international tennis.

“I think we have got four players who can all play to a very high level,” said Murray. “We are going over to Israel to really try and get ourselves out of this group because we have been in it for quite some time.

“It’s an exciting time for women’s tennis in Britain, I really do believe that,” she emphasised. “We have some young players coming up behind as well, so for me it’s going to be a big challenge but it’s a very exciting one.”

The British women were drawn in a reasonably favourable group according to Murray, managing to avoid a Polish team made up of the Radwanska sisters and a strong Romanian side boasting four players ranked inside the world’s top 100.

Murray’s team will need to finish ahead of Portugal, Holland and Israel in Pool C if they are to qualify for the play-offs, where they could potentially face the winner of Pool A for a chance to advance to the World Group II play-offs at the end of April.

New Challenge

This new role sees Murray venturing into the unknown and after being announced as the new captain in December she travelled Down Under to get to know her team better and scout out the opposition.

“It’s very early days, and for me I am far more familiar with the men’s side of the game, but I have really enjoyed the last few weeks,” said Murray, whose son Andy narrowly lost out to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. 

“I came into it at fairly short notice so it was very important for me to use the earlier part of the season to go to as many tournaments as I could.

“We have got a lot of video footage of the opponents, which we have had analysed and it will be very important to find the best possible match-ups from our team to play the opposition,” she added.

One of the most important aspects of Murray’s new role is on-court coaching, with captains receiving unlimited access to their players on changeovers during Fed Cup.

“Yeah, I have absolutely no idea how good I will be,” said Murray jokingly when quizzed about her on-court coaching talents. “But I am good at analysing matches,” she added.

“I do read tennis well and I will rely on the girls to tell me how they would like to receive feedback and what works best for them.”

The Europe/Africa Group 1 takes place from Feb 1-4 at the Municipal Tennis Club in Eilat, Israel. Check out the Fed Cup website for more information.

Pool A

– Estonia: Anett Kontaveit, Margit Ruutel, Eva Paalma, Tatjana Vorobjova, Andrei Luzgin (captain)
– Austria: Tamira Paszek, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, Yvonne Meusburger, Sandra Klemenschits, Jurgen Waber (captain)
– Bulgaria: Tsvetana Pironkova, Dia Evtimova, Elitsa Kostova, Isabella Shinikova, Dora Rangelova (captain)

Pool B

– Sweden: Johanna Larsson, Sofia Arvidsson, Hilda Melander, Ellen Allgurin, Maria Strandlund Tomsvik (captain)
– Hungary: Timea Babos, Reka Luca Jani, Katalin Marosi, Vaszilisza Bulgakova, Levente Baratosi (captain)
– Greece: Eleni Daniilidou, Despina Papamichail, Maria Sakkari, Agni Stefanou, Stavros Michalopoulos (captain)
– Bosnia-Herzegovina: Jasmina Tinjic, Mervana Jugic Salkic, Anita Husaric, Jelena Stanivuk, Sanja Kovac (captain)

Pool C

– Netherlands: Arantxa Rus, Michaella Krajicek, Bibiane Schoofs, Kiki Bertens, Manon Bollegraf (captain)
– Great Britain: Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson, Laura Robson, Judy Murray (captain)
– Israel: Shahar Peer, Julia Glushko, Keren Shlomo, Deniz Khazaniuk, Lior Mor (captain)
– Portugal: Michelle Larcher De Brito, Maria Joao Koehler, Barbara Luz, Margarida Moura, Pedro Cordeiro (captain)

Pool D

– Poland: Agnieszka Radwanska, Urszula Radwanska, Magda Linette, Alicja Rosolska, Tomasz Wiktorowski (captain)
– Romania: Monica Niculescu, Irina Begu, Simona Halep, Alexandra Dulgheru, Catalina Cristea (captain)
– Croatia: Petra Martic, Ani Mijacika, Donna Vekic, Tereza Mrdeza, Iva Majoli Maric (captain)
– Luxembourg: Anne Kremer, Claudine Schaul, Laura Correia, Tiffany Cornelius, Frank Eicher (captain)

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