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Billie Jean King Cup: Great Britain on the brink of reaching next year’s qualifiers | Tennis News

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One more victory in Saturday’s reverse singles, or the deciding doubles should
the tie go that far, would see Anne Keothavong’s Great Britain side earn another shot at qualifying for the elite finals week in 2022

Last Updated: 16/04/21 6:16pm

Katie Boulter was given the nod over Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage and Katie Swan to make her first appearance in the competition – formerly known as Fed Cup – since aggravating a back injury in the 2019 victory over Kazakhstan

Great Britain are on the brink of reaching next year’s Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers after Katie Boulter and Heather Watson handed them a 2-0 lead over Mexico at the National Tennis Centre on Friday.

Boulter gave Britain the perfect start to their play-off with victory over Marcela Zacarias at a near-deserted
NTC in Roehampton.

Watson followed it up when she saw off Giuliana Olmos 7-5 6-1 in the second singles clash.

With the tie being played behind closed doors, the two players’ team-mates and support staff were the only people cheering them on as Boulter pulled away to win 7-5 6-0.

This was a first appearance in the competition – formerly known as Fed Cup – for Boulter since she aggravated a back injury in helping Britain reach the World Group with victory over Kazakhstan in 2019.

The 24-year-old is still ranked down at 291 as a consequence, six places below her opponent, and she was twice a break down in the opening set.

Boulter saved more break points at 5-5, and that proved to be the decisive moment, with the British number nine not losing another game as she overpowered Zacarias in the second set.

“I was a little bit nervous at the start. Obviously the occasion, I knew what it was and I wanted to play my best tennis. Sometimes it’s difficult to do that and I knew she was going to be a tough opponent,” Boulter said.

“Of course it was natural to have nerves and I felt like a dealt with them really well and managed to tough out the first. That gave me a lot of momentum and gave me the confidence to go into the second, and I thought I played some really good tennis in the second set.

“I’ve been doing that day in, day out on the practice court, it’s just a matter of doing more and more of it on the match court.”

Watson’s win followed a similar pattern to the first match, with the British No 2 edging a tight opening set before pulling away against a player ranked more than 350 places lower.

The victory was the 28-year-old’s 22nd in the competition, moving her clear of captain Anne Keothavong into second place in the all-time British standings behind Virginia Wade.

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