There was to be no fairy-tale ending for Britain's female Tennis players in their Fed Cup quest, as Judy Murray's battling side lost to a strong Belarus yesterday, meaning that they will not reach the World Group II play-offs after all. They went into the match as underdogs, given that their opponents boasted the likes of former world number one player Victoria Azarenka in their ranks. Belarus proved far too strong for the GB singles players on the day, as both Heather Watson and Johanna Konta slumped to straight sets losses.

Konta had bagelled her opponent from Liechtenstein 6-0 6-0 earlier in the week, but was almost dealt the same treatment by Olga Govortsova from Belarus in their singles duel.

It was a bad enough thrashing as it was, as the higher-ranked player secured a 6-0 6-1 score line at the end, which was a fair reflection of the difference in the standard of play between the two rivals.

Watson at least put up a battling display against Azarenka, before falling away in the second set in a 6-4 6-1 defeat to the experienced player, who seems to be getting back to her best form after injury for much of the last year or so. She is down the rankings at present, but her ability suggests that it will not be long before she climbs back into the top twenty in the world. For Watson, it was another set-back as she attempts to compete with the better players in women's world tennis.

It was a rather tame surrender by the Brits, after rallying so well the day before in eliminating the Ukraine from the tournament.

In that eliminator, they had survived match points in the doubles match, before claiming their place against Belarus. However, there was no need for the doubles match as far as the result was concerned against the Belarus team, after both of the singles matches had been lost by Britain.

Victory ensured that the Belarussians qualified through to the play-offs in April, when the remaining teams will be battling it out for places in the Fed Cup main draw.

Great Britain probably missed the ability of the injured Laura Robson, who would no doubt have strengthened them in the singles matches, although Konta distinguished herself during the earlier matches this week.