With mixed fortunes in their two previous ties at the Fed Cup qualifiers in Budapest, Britain women's #Tennis team knew that it was win or bust against Ukraine today, as the losers would be heading home. The disappointing reversal at the hands of the Turkish ladies yesterday would have hurt them deeply, especially the singles losses against much lower ranked opposition. Heather Watson and Johanna Konta came out with plenty to prove today and did just that by both winning their singles rubbers. That allowed Anna Smith and Jocelyn Rae to survive a scare, before clinching a memorable victory for Britain and in doing so keeping the team's promotion hopes alive.
For once in this tournament, it was Konta who was the underdog in her singles match, with opponent Lesia Tsurenko ranked some 53 places above her in the current rankings. She made light of that statistic by clinching an impressive 6-3 6-2 success to set the Brits well on their way.
Watson was also facing a higher-ranked player in world number 26 Elina Svitolina, yet she found the reserves in an epic match to come back for a 2-6 7-5 6-4 victory, which was much more in keeping with her encouraging results Down Under recently, prior to the start of the Australian Open.
With the two singles wins in the bag, Britain still needed to take at least one set in the doubles to gain top spot in their group. Smith and Rae demonstrated true bulldog spirit to save a match point against them in the second set, after losing the first one on the tie-break, before taking that 7-5 and then going on to take the match as well by winning the decisive third set. That confirmed a 3-0 win over Ukraine and their place at the head of the group, with a 6-7 7-5 6-4 win in the doubles.
Captain Judy Murray claimed that the secret of their success was a game of Pictionary that the team engaged in the night before, which the team also took against the British tennis staff.
There is still much to do before Britain can dream of making the Fed Cup itself though, as they now move on to face a Belarus team led by the formidable Victoria Azarenka in Saturday's Group I play-off. Azarenka is a former world number one, so would expect to win her singles match. Should the Brits somehow come through that, they would progress forward to April's World Group II play-offs, where they could gain qualification into the main Fed Cup draw. #Celebrities