Letter to the LTA RE: Proposed Davis Cup Reforms


19 April 2018

Mr David Rawlinson

Acting President, ITF Board

Dear David Rawlinson,

Proposals to change the format of the Davis Cup

The British Association of Tennis Supporters (BATS) has been in existence for almost 40 years and has a growing membership, currently standing at more than 900.  The Association facilitates large attendances at Davis Cup ties both home and away.  In addition, we arrange trips to the Fed Cup and other ATP World Tour events.  In short, we have an intense interest in any proposed changes to the current Davis Cup format.

BATS meets annually at a sports hotel in Basingstoke for our AGM and most recently we gathered in March.  As you might expect, the Davis Cup arose as an agenda item in addition to social media discussions involving the wider membership.  BATS members appear to be of one voice in relation to the current proposals and it is right that we share this with you in advance of August when we understand this matter will be decided upon.

As experienced Davis/Fed Cup fans, we understand that highly ranked players do not always participate as part of their national team.  This can of course be a strength as up and coming players have the opportunity to excel. Cameron Norrie did just that in Marbella earlier this year.  We also understand that tennis players have a very busy schedule and, given there is little advantage to Davis Cup participation in terms of finance or ranking, motivation to take part is likely to be low.  On the other hand, it is very clear indeed that players in some cases are highly motivated to win the Davis Cup at least once for their country. Once achieved, they are then likely to take a break or just play in one tie.  The link between Davis Cup participation and the Olympics does have an effect on players’ willingness to play and we would anticipate that this requirement would remain.

BATS has a major concern that the motivation to change the Davis Cup format does not take account of fans in any way at all.  We worry that the changes are more motivated by money and some senior player needs, and that this event will be concentrated during one week at the end of November in far away places such as Singapore.

We do not have to remind you of the kind of atmosphere generated at a home tie in Davis Cup.  Fans are not only prepared to travel to Europe or further afield, but actively embrace the prospect, often to the point of over subscription, which clearly illustrates the zestful enthusiasm of our fans to support such an event.  Fed Cup events with multi teams taking part only show such vigorous support when the home team makes an appearance. For example, support for the Estonian team most recently.

The proposals as they stand will offer the rich tapestry of 18 national teams in one week but it seems to us that such a large event will have to be staged far away from where most fans actually live.  Even the most committed of us are not likely to travel to Asia on an annual basis in order to support our national team. In other words, this will not be a Davis Cup tournament any more and we shall lose the single opportunity to cheer for, in our case, GB.  To this end, we feel strongly that this proposed change of approach to venue i.e doing away with home and away, fundamentally and somewhat negatively alters the central and unique tenet of the Davis Cup itself.

While we do note that not all of the senior players support the change proposals, we do alsoacknowledge that the uncertainty of the current format can have a negative effect upon a player’s diary.  This may offer the opportunity to move away from an annual event, rather than re-vamp the tournament completely.

BATS is well aware that tennis, like other sports, is largely resource led and it is clear that large amounts of money are at stake here to promote this annual event at the end of November.  We would ask that the LTA/ITF consider the support and the commitment of home tie fans and the undoubted contribution that makes to the ability of teams to perform well.

May we suggest that a consultation period is built in so that the views of fans much more widely can be taken alongside those of business and players.  Part of that consultation should outline the difficulties experienced within the current format so that we can think of compromise solutions for change that will not threaten the very essence of Davis Cup tournaments.

Yours sincerely,

Lynne Moran

Secretary, BATS Executive Committee

Davis Cup – Great Britain v Australia by Rachel, a BATS member

If you are anything like me, many of you will have spent the days since that fantastic weekend in Glasgow in a dream-like state, re-watching television highlights that, although good, do not come close to the spine-tingling atmosphere of the Emirates Arena. Have we really reached the final? Was it only 5 years ago that we were staring at the bottom rung of the competition? Are we really only 3 rubbers from ending 79 years of hurt?

Much has been made of the importance of Andy Murray to the team. To have a player ranked in the top 3 is undeniably a huge advantage. Andy’s commitment to the competition, particularly over recent years, has been inspiring. Rarely does a tennis player have an opportunity to compete in a team, let alone alongside a sibling, and his gold medal at London 2012 must have further fuelled Andy’s clear desire to reach the pinnacle of team tennis. Andy was clearly in discomfort with his back during the semifinal but his determination was evident from the first serve to the last.

Let us not forget, however, that Davis Cup ties are not won in two rubbers. Dan Evans and James Ward have played important roles over the years and the development of Kyle Edmund makes the battle for the second singles place an interesting one. Doubles matches are often crucial and may indeed decide the final. We have been fortunate to have many doubles players make important contributions. The doubles rubber of the semifinal was outstanding and will live long in the memory. Andy and Jamie will surely be favourites to start in the final. Dom Inglot will be waiting in the wings though.

A successful team also needs an excellent leader and support staff to succeed and, whilst Andy may be the poster boy for this leadership, Leon Smith has quietly gone about his work as captain in an unassuming yet motivational fashion since being appointed in 2010. Smith’s record speaks for itself- 11-2 win/loss. He clearly has fostered a healthy team spirit that may not always have been present with other captains. Surely a bigger position in British tennis awaits him?

Great Britain will head to Belgium as favourites, on paper at least, but the Belgians will have something to say on the matter. They will be out to avenge their loss to Britain in their last final 111 years ago. Home advantage, too, cannot be overstated.

To Leon, Andy, Jamie Murray, James, Dan, Dom, Colin, Ross, Jonny, Jamie Baker and all those involved in the team over the past few years we say thank you and good luck. Bring on the Belgians!

Looking ahead: Great Britain v France 17-19 July 2015 by Rachel, a BATS member

Emptiness. That is the general feeling that any British tennis fan feels on the Monday after Wimbledon ends. We spend those first few days desperately trying to fill the void that the end of the British grass court season leaves. Shelves are mended, houses are cleaned and dogs get walked more often. This year, however, will be different. This year, the British grass court season has one more punch to pack and it’s a big one: Great Britain v France in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.

It has been 79 years since Great Britain lifted the trophy. In that time Britain has had 17 Prime Ministers and its population has grown by almost 20 million. It has been 34 years since Great Britain even reached a semi-final. Surely the time is right for the years of hurt to end?

GB Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith has transformed the British team into just that- a team. Andy Murray may be the star player but you won’t find him taking all the credit. Indeed, Britain would not have reached the quarter-finals without the hard work of other members. Who can forget James Ward’s heroics against John Isner in Glasgow or the consistent performances from the doubles players?

Smith will be heartened by the fact that he has more players vying for selection. Kyle Edmund’s admirable performance at Roland Garros will not have gone unnoticed but abdominal and shoulder strains seem to currently be holding him back. Liam Broady has also been knocking on the door and his superb comeback from two sets down to win against Marinko Matosevic in the first round of Wimbledon demonstrates his strength of character and ability on grass. James Ward, however, is the tried and tested player; the one that we can depend on to perform on the big stage. Ward seems to relish the Davis Cup atmosphere and it is a shame that he has not been able to convert his heroics to his own singles career. His performance at Wimbledon, however, will hopefully boost his confidence and breaking into the top 100 will open up opportunities in tournaments that have hitherto been unavailable to him.

Doubles often gets overlooked in the media but a Davis Cup team is nothing without its doubles players. They can be the making or breaking of a team. Britain have been blessed with an array of players to choose from over the past few years. Jonny Marray, Dominic Inglot, Jamie Murray, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, amongst others, have all played their part. One does wonder, however, whether the long term effects of the LTA’s cuts to doubles funding will mean so many doubles specialists will be available for selection in future. Selection for the quarter-final was far from certain. Jamie Murray’s excellent results with John Peers were enough to secure his spot.  Given Dom Inglot has only recently returned from injury Smith may have been tempted to select Colin Fleming but he will have been fully aware of the fact that Jamie Murray and Inglot came close to defeating the Bryan brothers in the previous round.

As for the French, well we may have a champion in Andy Murray but they have ten players in the top 100. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and that ultimate showman, Gail Monfils, were all options available to captain Arnaud Clement. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut were recently crowned champions of Queen’s in the doubles but Clement decided to go for three possible singles players in Tsonga, Simon and Gasket together with Mahut.

Belief is key and this Great Britain team is one which believes they can win. Bring on the French!

Jo’s 2015 Challenge by Jo Bartholomew, a BATS committee member

When Bally died, I think it is fair to say that I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe the cruel twist that had taken the life of one of the most gentle, warm hearted and funny people I could ever wish to know. Bally was just so grounded and “down to earth” – a quality which helped to make her one of Great Britain’s most successful female tennis players of the Open era.

Not once did Bally complain about anything, the hard grind of a tennis professional, the life on tour or even her chronic liver condition (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis). She simply got on with Life and took the rough with the smooth in her stride. She was a credit to tennis and to Great Britain.

How could I help to continue her legacy? Well, before she died, she created her own Academy. The Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (EBAT) in Ipswich provides the opportunity for youngsters from less privileged backgrounds, to learn to play tennis. I have now had the opportunity to visit the academy and Bally has created something quite extraordinary. Bally’s love of her sport is reflected in the girls and boys who attend the academy. Actually, I cannot find the right words for this, which may surprise some of you because I can usually be relied upon to say what I think.

After Bally’s funeral – I am not afraid to admit that I drove home to Essex with tears streaming down my face (my Spanish friends, one of whom had been a coach to Bally, were in the car with me and they too were in a similar state.) – I knew that I had to do something to help the academy. But what could I do? I mean, I can’t run or anything daft like that, and that seems to be what most people do when they want to raise some money for a good cause…

I joined a running club. A WHAT? I hear you cry – Are you crazy? Well, yes, apparently I am crazy. (With a Twitter name of Crazyduck, that about settles it. No?!) Anyway, to cut to the chase (oops, sorry, Real Tennis terms here, yes I play that game too.) I started going to Parkrun every Saturday morning and then I joined my local running club – Billericay Striders.

On January 3rd, 2015 in the pouring rain I took part in the first 10K run of my 2015 Challenge. This event (I won’t call it a race, because it wasn’t) took place in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and where better to launch a campaign like this, than in the shadows of the Olympic Stadium, in memory of a 2012 Team GB Olympian and the runner just happens to have been a 2012 Games Maker. I splashed and puddle-jumped (and muttered under my breath about why on earth I had thought of anything so crazy) my way around the park for 10K and collected a nice shiny medal (I do like bright shiny objects), a t-shirt and a time of 1:29:30 for the record book.

OK so maybe I can run a bit. I was so proud of myself. I actually managed a 10K run. I didn’t run all the way round, but hey, I had to start somewhere, right? More importantly I was doing something constructive to help future tennis players to learn and enjoy our wonderful game.

Since then, I have done at least 5 more 10K events as well as a handful of 5K. My 10K times have been similar to this one – pretty consistent! I have now completed 3 5K runs in Hyde Park, and this is a venue which holds very special memories for me because some years ago, Bally and I actually ran part of the Hyde Park course together. Of course, she was far too fast for me, and disappeared in a cloud of dust. (I kept up with her for about 500m.) She waited for me at the end of the run and Olga (her Mum) invited me to share some sandwiches with them.

My EBAT colours attract a lot of interest at these race events – I often get complete strangers coming up to me and saying what a worthy cause it is. That in itself is a good reason to run. My latest 10K was actually today (Sunday 7th June) in Finsbury Park. It was organised by “Women’s running” magazine and I am very proud to announce that not only did they ask for my fund-raising story, for publication in their on-line magazine, but I also returned a 10K PB of 1:25:11.

There was a point today when I thought I was not going to complete 10K and for one nanosecond, I thought about stopping after 5K. Of course, I didn’t and that is partly because a little voice in my head which sounded suspiciously like Bally’s, told me that under no circumstances was I going to give in because giving in does not register in the dictionary.

The lure of a nice shiny medal at the end of a run is quite an incentive – now I have a little collection of them and I dedicate them all to Bally. There is no doubt that the running has improved my tennis fitness too, so long may it continue. We are only half way through 2015 and already, because of Bally, I have done things that I never ever thought were possible.

So far I have raised nearly £250 for EBAT through my justgiving page. 2015 is only at half-way stage. The next few months are like this:

June 2015 – South Woodham Ferrers 10K

July 2015 – British 10K (London) and Brentwood 10K

August 2015 – Ipswich 10K (on Bally’s birthday) and hopefully 25K of the London to Cambridge Challenge – this is a WALK!!- over August bank holiday.

October 2015 Royal Parks Half Marathon.

That’s all for now. Watch THIS space!

My visit to Roland Garros by Rachel, a BATS member

To many people ‘dirt’ has negative connotations- foul, filthy and unclean. Tennis fans view ‘the dirt’ differently. The crushed bricks that make the red clay surface (let’s forget Madrid’s blue experiment) signify the second phase of the tennis season, the climax of which is the second Grand Slam of the year- Roland Garros.

Clay has not always been kind to British players, although Andy Murray’s recent success is a welcome change. To British tennis fans, however, Roland Garros is not only important because it is a Grand Slam but because the second week also signifies the beginning of the grass court swing and the opportunity for young British talent to take advantage of wildcards.

Circumstances permitting, I try to visit Roland Garros every year. For those of you who have not visited, I would encourage you to do so. It lacks the tradition and quirks of Wimbledon but is nonetheless enjoyable in a different way, particularly as tickets are easier to purchase and there is much more seating available for the outside courts.

Whichever tournament I visit, I always try to watch our British players. Imagine my delight, therefore, when it became apparent that Monday 25th May would see five, yes FIVE, Brits compete in the main draw. Unfortunately, that delight was short lived when the schedule was released and four players were scheduled to be fourth on court. All being well, Aljaz Bedene would get my support early afternoon but I was going to have to make a difficult choice thereafter. Murray was out of the equation as he was playing on Chatrier which left Watson, Konta and Edmund in the mix. Having followed Kyle Edmund’s progress closely over the past few years, I decided that I would spend the latter part of the day on Court 7 for his match against Stephane Robert.

I started the day by positioning myself on Court 6 to watch Feliciano Lopez (11) v Teymuraz Gabashvili, which proved to be the upset of the day. Lopez has always struggled on clay in comparison to his Spanish compatriots and was unable to play his natural game which is more suited to the grass. Gabashvili totally out-powered Lopez and won the match 6-3 7-6(9) 6-3.

Feliciano Lopez

Teymuraz Gabashvili

Unfortunately, the Bedene v Thiem match had already started by this time and Bedene was down by two sets. I decided that rather than spend my time queuing for entry to that court that I would take a break and queue for a decent position on Court 7 in preparation for the Edmund match. Whether you’ve visited Roland Garros or simply watched on your television, you will know that the French like to get behind their players. The key, therefore, was to get a seat during the previous match which was Sara Errani v Alison Riske. Riske pushed Errani to a third set before the former finalist prevailed 7-6(1) 2-6 6-0

Alison Riske  

Sara Errani

And then it was time. The previously placid Court 7 turned into a raucous cacophony of sound as the French packed the stands to support their man. Cries of ‘Robert, Robert’ greeted Stephane Robert as he stepped on court. Support for Kyle Edmund was significantly less, with approximately half a dozen Brits scattered across the stands. Robert gave the crowd what they wanted in the first set, taking it 6-2. Edmund seemed to be rushing points and missing the lines with wild shots. By the second set, however, Edmund had settled into his game and, consequently, grew in confidence. Some solid serving and excellent forehand winners saw Edmund take it 6-4. Edmund battled against the French crowd admirably to continue his success, taking the third set 6-3. Robert, however, battled back and took the fourth set 7-5.

Kyle Edmund

At this point Edmund ‘did a Murray’ and took a bathroom break, much to the annoyance of the French crowd who booed him on his return. By this point, however, the British support had increased with presence of a certain A. Murray in the stands showing his support.

Stephane Robert

The break seemed to do the Brit good as he raced to a 4-0 lead and eventually won the match 6-2 in the fifth. It was a composed first Grand Slam win for Edmund who battled the crowd and cramp to reach the second round. It was very disappointing, therefore, that he was forced to pull out of a potential thriller against Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury but being fully healthy for the grass court swing takes priority.

Andy Murray supporting Edmund

My second and final day at the tennis only involved one match with British interest. Colin Fleming and Jonny Marray were up against Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi. The British duo started well, breaking Mirnyi’s usually solid serve and taking the first set 6-3. Unfortunately, thereafter they failed to play the big points well and eventually lost 3-6 6-3 6-2. Hopefully the boys will have more luck on the grass.

Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming

Davis Cup – GB v USA in March 2015 by Mick Cohen

Emirates Arena – Glasgow 

This new venue became home for a capacity crowd of 7,700 for the three days.

On the Friday, Andy opened the singles with a win against Donald Young 6-1; 6-1; 4-6; 6-2. He looked in no trouble despite dropping the third set.

In the second singles James Ward took on the big serving John Isner. At first Ward was unable to cope with the big serve of Isner, however he was serving well and only narrowly lost the first two sets 6-7; 5-7. He then managed a break to take the third set 6-3 – game on and the fourth set tie-break 7-6 (7-4) so all to play for. The fifth set (no tie-breaks) went all the way to an amazing win for Ward 15-13! Ward ranking 111 and Isner 20 – what a win – the noise nearly took the roof off. Isner said of his defeat by Ward “This one’s on me, my loss on Friday put us in a big hole”.

The Saturday saw the doubles with Dom Inglot and Jamie Murray v Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan – the world-ranked No. 1 doubles pair! All looked over after set 2 with USA 6-3; 6-2 but the Brits fought back and took the third set 6-3 and forced a tie-break fourth taking it 7-6 (10-8). So all down to the fifth final set which went to USA 9-7 after a couple of missed volleys by the Brits.

The Sunday saw Andy take on Isner. Isner knowing he had no chance of out-rallying Murray from the baseline, threw caution to the wind and hit winners with power and accuracy giving Murray no chance of reaching the ball. Isner hit 28 aces, including six in one game and did not face a break point for the first hour and a half. He forced seven break points of his own in the first set but Murray defended all including three set points. When it came to the tie-break only one point went against serve, Isner double-faulting on the first point. It was his only double fault of the whole match. Murray went forward to take the set 7-4. Murray took the second set 6-3 and, in the third set tie-break, Murray never trailed after drawing level at 1-1 and took it 7-4 and the tie.

Ward played the dead rubber against Young but after taking the first set 7-5 had to retire with an injury.

Murray said “There is a real synergy within the British team.   It gives you that extra incentive to perform and go out there to fight for every point. I was very emotional all week-end.”

Quarter-finals 17-19th July GB v France. Home for us – venue?

 Excellent support this time from BATS members with over 130 members attending – great!

Fed Cup – February 2015

FED CUP – February 2015 by Steve Webb

I flew out of Heathrow on Sunday 1 February to Budapest and booked into the Danubius Hotel Arena that was across the road from the Syma Event and Congress Centre in which the Fed Cup Tennis was being played. I met the rest of the BATS members at breakfast on the Monday morning – Mary Pope, Joanne Rorison, Maurice Baldwin, Sylvia Maybry, Lynne Moran and Sue Richardson. During breakfast we could see several of the teams in the Fed Cup and we tried to identify as many players as we could. By the weekend we had seen players of 12 countries but not Great Britain who were staying somewhere else.

As the tennis did not start until Wednesday that gave us two days to explore Budapest, so we caught the M2 Metro to the City Centre and got the ”Official Hop On Hop Off Budapest City Tour” which gave us unlimited use for 2 days. We started with the Red Line Tour for the morning, after which we had lunch and did the boat trip on the Danube in the afternoon. On Tuesday we did the Yellow Line in the morning and some of us did the walking tour in the afternoon whilst others visited other attractions.

 On Wednesday morning we took the short walk across the road to the tennis arena. The 15 countries playing this year were split into 4 pools ‘A’ had 3 teams and ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ had 4 each. GB were in Pool B along with Liechtenstein, Turkey and Ukraine. All Pool B matches started at 10am Wednesday along with Pool C matches. Pool A and Pool D matches started at 4pm. There was the Centre Court and Courts 1,2, and 3 in the Main Hall.

GB’s first opponents on Wednesday were Liechtenstein on Court 2, the No 2 players played first and so Konta played Van Deichmann in the opening rubber. Konta played some great tennis in the first set and easily won 6-0 in 22 minutes. The 2nd set was much of the same and Konta won the 2nd set 6-0 in 23 minutes. She only allowed Van Deichmann 1 game point on her own serve. Next was the No1 players, Watson v’ Vogt. In the 1st Set Watson went 3-1 up before losing her serve but then broke Vogt twice in succession to win the set 6-2 in 27 minutes. In the 2nd set it was a repeat, Watson went 3-1 up with a break, was broken to 3-2, broke back to 4-2 and ran out a winner 6-3 in 37 minutes to give GB a 2-0 lead in rubbers. Finally it was the turn of our doubles team Rae and Smith against the two players from Liechtenstein who played in the singles rubbers. In the 1st set the GB girls broke twice and won the set 6-1 in 21 minutes.   In the 2nd set GB broke in the 1st game, broke again in the 7th game and won the set 6-2 in 26 minutes never losing their serve in the match. GB 3 Liechtenstein 0.

GB’s second opponents on Thursday were Turkey again on Court 2. Konta v Soylu was the 1st Match on court. Konta got off to a fine start in the 1st set by breaking serve in the 1st game and only winning after 11 minutes of play. She went 2-1 up but then there were 3 breaks of serve to level the score at 3-3, Turkey broke again to lead 5-3 and won the set 6-3 in 56 minutes. In the 2nd set the score was 4-4 after a break each and went to 6-6 with no more breaks. In the tie break Turkey won 7-5 in points and the set in 61 minutes. Watson’s opponent was Buyukakcay and in the 1st set Watson had a very bad start going 4-0 down and never recovered losing the set 6-2 in 28minutes. In the 2nd set it went with serve to 2-2, Turkey broke then GB broke back with another break to lead 5-3 and GB won the set 6-3 in 40 minutes. In the 3rd set there were 4 breaks to make the score 4-4, then Turkey led 6-5 and broke Watson to win the set 7-5 in 56 minutes and the match by 2 sets to 1 and give Turkey a 2-0 lead in rubbers. In the doubles Rae & Smith played Eraydin & Ozgen and had no trouble at all winning 6-2 in the 1st set with 2 breaks and broke twice again in the 2nd set to win that 6-1 in a total match time of 49 minutes. However Turkey had won both singles and won the match overall by 2 rubbers to 1.

Now we come to CRUNCH TIME FRIDAY, here with Turkey looking to beat Liechtenstein 3-0 and win all 6 sets, GB had to beat Ukraine at least 2-1 and win a set in the 3rd Rubber in order to top the Group and play in the Promotional play-off match on Saturday.

In the 1st rubber Konta played Tsurenko. In the 5th game of the 1st set Konta broke to 3-2 and broke again in the 9th game to win the set 6-3 in 45 minutes. At the start of the 2nd Set Ukraine broke but Konta broke back in the 4th game to level at 2-2, won 5th game with an ace, broke in 6th game to lead 4-2 and broke in 8th game to win set 6-2 in 39 mins and put GB 1 rubber up. In the 2nd Rubber matched Watson against Svitolina. The 1st set was on serve until Ukraine broke to lead 4-2 and then broke again in 8th game to win the set 6-2 in 33 minutes. In the 2nd set there were no breaks until 2-2 and then we had 7 consecutive breaks of serve which resulted in Watson leading 6-5. She then held serve and won the set 7-5 in 52 minutes. The 3rd set was a very tight one which had Watson breaking just once in the 5th game and resulted in Watson winning the set 6-4 in 33 minutes and the match by 2 sets to 1 and giving GB a 2-0 rubbers lead.

Now it was ALL to play for in the doubles. Rae & Smith played Savchuk & Svitolina and in the 1st set there were 6 breaks of serve and GB had to break in the 12th game to force a tie break which they lost and so Ukraine were 1 set up. In the 2nd set Ukraine went 3-0 with a break in the 2nd game, GB broke back in the 5th game, then both teams held serve to leave Ukraine leading 5-4. Rae then had to hold serve to stay in the match. Ukraine then had a MATCH POINT that was saved and Rae won the game to level the score at 5-5. GB broke to lead 6-5 and then served out to win set 7-5 in 48 minutes. The 3rd set was a very tight one, GB got off to a great start breaking in the 1st game. There were no more breaks until the 7th game when Ukraine broke but GB broke back in the next game to lead 5-3. Finally Rae served and won the 10th game to win the 3rd set 6-4 and the match by 2 sets to 1.

GB having won all 3 rubbers finished top of the Group with 7-2 rubbers and Turkey had to settle for 2nd place with 6-3 Rubbers after beating Liechtenstein 3-0.

 Saturday was the Promotion, Relegation and Placement matches for the teams. GB winners of Pool B played their Promotion match against Belarus winners of Pool C.

 In the 1st Match Konta played Govortsova, the 1st set was over in 25 mins with Govortsova breaking Konta 3 times and winning the set 6-0. The 2nd set was no better with Konta only holding serve once and losing 6-1 in 27 mins to give Belarus a 1-0 lead in Rubbers in only 54 mins of play.

The second match was Watson v Azarenka, in the 1st Set Azarenka led 3-0 before Watson held serve in the 4th game and then broke Azarenka in the 8th game to level the score at 4-4 but Azarenka then raised her level and broke Watson in the 10th game to win the set 6-4 in 35 mins. In the 2nd set Watson only manages to hold serve once and Azarenka with 2 breaks of serve ran out a winner 6-1 in 38 mins to win the match and complete a 2-0 win in Rubbers for Belarus, thus securing a place in the Group 2 playoffs to be held 18/19th April and having an away tie in Japan. GB having lost will now compete again next year in Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 to be held again in Budapest.

The other promoted team for the Group 2 playoffs was Serbia who beat Croatia and Serbia now has a home tie with Paraguay. Teams relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 were Liechtenstein who lost to Portugal and Austria who lost to Latvia. Teams promoted from Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 to Europe /Africa Zone Group1 for next years competition were Estonia and South Africa.

Elena Baltacha 14th August 1983 – 4th May 2014

“IF you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.”

These are the famous words written by Rudyard Kipling, which greet every competitor as they walk out onto Centre Court at Wimbledon.

Elena (“Bally” to her friends, family and fans)  may as well have written these words herself, because this is exactly what she did. She never made excuses for herself. If she lost a match, she simply picked herself up and tackled the next one head on. “Feisty” is a pretty accurate description of someone who had the determination and the desire to achieve her potential.

Bally in Eastbourne in 2013
Bally in Eastbourne in 2013

It was the same away from the court. Bally had more than her fair share of illness and injury in her career, but she never once complained about it. If anything, she was a prime example of an athlete who managed their condition (a chronic liver condition ‘primary sclerosing cholangitis’) and did not let it dictate. If there was anyone who expected her to fade away into tennis obscurity after yet another set-back, then they were in for a big disappointment.

Bally did not know the meaning of “give up”. She took everything she had into every match and always gave her opponent plenty to think about. She thrived on the home crowd support, the more Union Jacks around the court, the better. The more noise the crowd made, the better she played.

Bally’s loyalty to her country won her many fans. She represented Great Britain in the Fed Cup and at the last tie, early in 2014, she was on the bench as chief cheerleader, despite being unable to play. At the Commonwealth Games, she had represented Scotland, but her finest achievement and proudest moment was when she was selected for the London 2012 Olympic Games, [to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Olga, who competed for the (former) Soviet Union, in Pentathlon and Heptathlon.]

Bally was very proud to represent her country
Bally was very proud to represent her country

The 2012 Olympic tournament was held at Wimbledon on the grass, where Bally had had some of her finest victories. She reached the second round in London.

In 2010 Bally reached No 49 in the World, achieving her goal to break into the top 50. She retired from the game in November 2013 to concentrate on building her Academy with Nino Severino.

The Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (in Ipswich) was established by Bally and Nino, to help girls from deprived areas learn the game. It is testament to Bally’s drive, enthusiasm and sheer love of Tennis. It is also Bally’s legacy, her own way of ensuring that others less fortunate than herself, have the opportunity to play and excel in the game that she loved.

In November 2013, Bally and Nino married, and Bally retired from competitive tennis to concentrate on the Academy. In March 2014 came the announcement that Bally had liver cancer. She died at home in the early hours of May 4th 2014. She was 30.




By Jo Bartholomew on behalf of BATS (British Association of Tennis Supporters)  May 10th 2014.

Davis Cup Italy v GB Third Day

Italy 3 GB 2

Well it was not to be. Italy came from 2-1 down to win the tie 3-2.

We felt optimistic at the beginning of the day as we took the 151 bus to Tennis Club Napoli.

Andy Murray started well but after the Stirling University chant against Fognini upset him, he upped his game and Murray couldn’t cope. Suddenly Fognini won 5 straight games to win the set. We remonstrated with the students to change their chants but they refused.

Fognini was playing very well and Murray had no answer so it was soon clear that Fognini would win and he completed his victory by 6-3 6-3 6-4.

After a short break it was time for the final match between James Ward and Andreas Seppi. It was a real mountain to climb for Ward on clay but he did well and exchanged breaks twice with Seppi but could not prevent Seppi winning the first set 6-4. Ward continued to play well but could not quite win a set and Seppi won the next two sets 6-3 6-4.

The result of Switzerland v Kazhakstan was no longer relevant and we now have to look forward to a first round in March 2015.

Nonetheless it has been a great weekend enjoyed with several new BATS members and many new members have been signed up.

Davis Cup Blog Italy v GB Second day

What an amazing day!

Heavy rain had been forecast but it stayed away.

The singles match between Andy Murray and Andreas Seppi resumed at 5 all in the second set and we were all relieved when Andy Murray closed out the set 7-5 despite slipping on the wet area at the back of the court.
He then finished off the match 6-3 in the third set.

We then had around an hour and a half before the doubles match. Despite the proposed pairings in the programme, the two top players, Fognini and Andy Murray played with Bolelli and Colin Fleming respectively.

Fognini seemed to be struggling with his leg injury and lost three service games in a row to lose the first two sets 6-3 6-2. Then the Italians found some form and the Italian crowd started to make some noise. They won the third set 6-3 and were a break up in the fourth so the momentum was with the Italians. Fleming and Murray came back brilliantly to win 7-5 from 5-3 down.

The atmosphere was amazing with the British fans making lots of noise which must have made a difference!