While Great Britain will begin the Billie Jean King Cup finals in Glasgow as clear underdogs, members of the team have asserted intentions of fighting for a spot in the semi-finals, which would be one of the biggest achievements of their careers.
“It would be one of the biggest [achievements],” said Katie Boulter. “I feel I’ve had a few in the past in Fed Cup and to add more to my memory would be pretty special.”
The Billie Jean King Cup finals will see 12 teams compete for the title at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, with four round-robin groups of three producing four semi-finalists. The United States team, which boasts Coco Gauff and Madison Keys, and the Czech Republic, led by Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova, will begin the event as favourites.
Britain have been drawn with Kazakhstan and Spain, with their first tie on Tuesday evening against a Kazakhstan team that boasts the Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina. They will attempt to reach the round robin stage without British No 1 Emma Raducanu, who withdrew due to a wrist injury. The squad is headed by singles players Harriet Dart, Boulter and Heather Watson, plus specialist doubles team Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett.
While Dart will be GB’s No 1 player, it is Boulter who played a pivotal role in Britain’s dramatic victory against Kazakhstan in the Copper Box in 2019 that secured promotion, winning one of the singles matches against Zarina Diyas. But it also came at a personal cost as she competed with a stress fracture in her back that took her months to recover from.
“It’s something that’s in my core memory and I won’t ever forget that one,” said Boulter. “So I will hopefully use it and it was something that was pretty special to me. I think I can speak for everyone by saying it was something that was iconic, and I hope that we can replicate something like that.”
During previous BJK Cup ties, the British team have often built team spirit with their own murder mystery game among other things. This year, though, aside from an array of jokes from Watson and Nicholls along with their impressive Australian accents, captain Anne Keothavong says that the preparation has been all business.
“Quite frankly, for us as a team to have this opportunity, we do feel very fortunate, the fact that we are the host nation,” Keothavong said. “It would be amazing. I think for those of us who were at Copper Box, that’s a memory that we created as a team that will stay with us for the rest of our life.
“If we can recreate more moments like that, I think that would be something special, not just individually but as a team and for British tennis, because it’s certainly something we want more of.”