When a player makes a splash in the later years of her career, the Spin takes notice. I first noticed Pereira earlier this year when she played Belinda Bencic in Fed Cup group play in Brazil. Even though she lost the match, she played some of the best tennis I had seen from a player of whom I knew nothing in quite sometime.
To win her first WTA title and the first for a Brazilian woman in 28 years, the 26 year Pereira beat Schiavone, Svitolina and Shvedova in the final. She is without a doubt the Spin’s Player of the Week.
Timea Bacsinszky who led the Swiss Fed Cup team to a 3-2 win over Poland which means that Switzerland are now in the 2016 World Group and contenders for Fed Cup.
The Czech Fed Cup team, with Petra Kvitova as their leader continues to rewrite Fed Cup history. They performed brilliantly against France and are once again in the Fed Cup finals where they will face Russia. However in this tie, honours should go to Lucie Safarova who saved 6 match points in her match against Caroline Garcia to secure the first point of the tie
Previous player of week
Week 14: Angelique Kerber – Charleston winner defeating Madison Keys
Week 13: Serena Williams – Miami winner for 8thtime defeating Carla Suarez Navarro
Week 12: Sloane Stephens – Having three solid wins including defeating Madison Keys, AO SF, in process
Week 11: Simona Halep – Indian Wells winner defeating Jelena Jankovic
Week 10: Heather Watson – Getting first Top 10 win of career defeating Agnieszka Radwanska
Week 9: Timea Bacsinszky – Monterrey winner defeating Caroline Garcia
Week 8: Lucie Safarova – Doha winner defeating Victoria Azarenka
Week 7: Karolina Pliskova – Dubai finalist losing to Simona Halep
Week 6: Daniela Hantuchova – Pattaya winner defeating Ajla Tomljanovic.
Week 5: Andrea Petkovic – Led Germany to Fed Cup semifinals
Week 4: Serena Williams – Australian Open winner defeating Maria Sharapova
Week 3: Madison Keys – Defeated two seeds including Petra Kvitova, who was seeded 4
Week 2: Heather Watson – Hobart winner defeating Madison Brengle
Week 1: Venus Williams – Auckland winner defeating Caroline Wozniacki
Fed Cup observations
Years ago there was a group of US Davis Cup fans who called themselves the Net Heads. They have been around since 2001 and most recently they travelled all the way to Great Britain for the most recent US Davis Cup tie. They travelled all over the world cheering on the US Davis Cup team. People are always surprised when shouts of SIMONA ring out throughout stadiums all over the world whenever Simona Halep is playing a match. People were also surprised that there was such a huge contingent of Romanian fans over in Montreal Canada for the Canada v. Romania Fed Cup tie. There were many comments on social media and from commentators who likened the atmosphere to a home tie in Romania.
I watched many Fed Cup matches this weekend. The tie in Italy was one of the most eye-opening and troubling for me, especially when compared with the comments by newly appointed USTA President, Katrina Adams. First of all I am always impressed by the Italians and their love of women’s tennis. During the European clay swing, it matters not which women are out on court, the stands, especially the secondary stadium is jam packed with fans sitting shoulder to shoulder, cheering and shouting for their favourite player. During last weekend’s Fed Cup tie, this was no different. The stadium was small and intimate (a 4,000 seat stadium) and the crowd was as vocal as I have ever seen. They were on their feet during every point, cheering, singing, and chanting. The shouts of Sara, Sara, Sara echoed throughout the stadium. They lived and died with every point. Meanwhile, on the US Fed Cup bench, not only was it sparse with the number of players who were there cheering on the US Fed Cup team, but the few that were on the benches had the look of a beaten team. Contrast that to the Germany/Russian tie after Day 1. Down 0-2, the women on the German bench were still cheering to the last ball. Over in Poland, despite losing the tie, the fans were still cheering for every point and shouting out as much encouragement as they could.
Katrina Adams stated that the US needs to be more like their European counterparts when it comes to showing their colours during Fed Cup. She is right. They need to, however, this is something that the USTA can do and I have some suggestions for how that can be done.
· The USTA has millions of dollars in resources. During away ties, bus members of the USTA junior programme to Fed Cup away ties. Put them up in hostels/hotels. Dress them in the red, white and blue. Give them noise makers and book out a section of the grounds specifically for the US delegation. They will know exactly what to do. Think it can’t work. The Swiss have been doing that for decades.
· In home ties, do the same thing. One thing that I have noticed is that the venues chosen for Fed Cup ties (and Davis Cup as well) seem to be in places that bear no resemblance to the thousands of people who end up going to regular Tour events. Why not have Fed and Davis Cup ties at places like Indian Wells or Miami or even South Carolina. These 3 places are all tennis meccas. There are places where fans gather in the thousands to watch matches. Have ticket prices discounted for the sessions and encourage fans to come and cheer on the US.
· I have heard that ticket prices are an abomination for Fed and Davis Cup ties. You can’t price people out of the market.
· Encourage fans to cheer. It was disappointing to see the looks of defeat on the faces of the players during the US/Italy Fed Cup tie. While Serena Williams was struggling against Giorgi and Errani, not one of the US players got up off their feet to shout words of encouragement. The captain, Mary-Jo Fernandez, bless her, looked as if she was being buried alive. Meanwhile on the Italian bench, Pennetta was doing everything other than get on the court in her zeal. This is what Fed Cup is about. It is about cheering on your teammates. It is about shouting encouragement. It is about singing, and cheering after every point won. It is about groaning when there is a missed opportunity. The US needs to get that part of tennis right.
John Isner has remarked on it many times about how he wishes that US fans cheered for him when he played in the US in the same way that citizens from other countries cheer on other players. In this I agree with him. The USTA needs to make contact with fan bases and encourage them to come out. Offer discounted tickets in group packages. Encourage hotels to offer discounted rates. Encourage fans to open their homes to vetted fans. Make Fed and Davis Cup into a movement.
Finally, once the matches were complete, there was a discussion on Tennis Channel regarding the US’ performance. Ms. Davenport indicated that she believes that it is time for the USTA to have all the players in one room and have a conversation about the non-participation of so many players from Fed Cup. Missing in action last weekend were Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Raquel Kops-Jones, Abigail Spears, Lisa Raymond, Varvara Lepchenko and Venus Williams (withdrew due to personal reasons).
In terms of encouragement, even when players were not present due to playing qualifying in other tournaments, or preparing for a tournament, there were tweets of encouragement from countrywomen showing appreciation for the efforts that their counterparts were making. Unless I missed it, I have not seen a tweet of encouragement from any of the individuals named above. This is shocking and disappointing in the extreme. It shows not only a disconnect amongst the ranks of the US women but discontent as well. It needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now.
The Spin will be on the next edition of the always hilarious, inciteful and controversial RealzTennisFans Podcast discussing all things women’s tennis and previewing our dark horses for this year’s French Open. Feel free to tune in and listen to it here and follow Realz +Realz TenisFanz
I should also point out that there is a radio programme hosted by the knowledgeable Stephanie Neppl. If you have never listened to it, you should