Boosted by a boisterous crowd at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada advanced to the Fed Cup World Group for the first time ever by beating a thin Slovakia squad that was missing its top 3 players (Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova and Magdalena Rybarikova). In conjunction with the Canadian mens’ success at the Davis Cup recently, we can without a doubt say that we are witnessing the best era of Canadian tennis ever.
Aleksandra Wozniak led off with a tough 3 set victory over Jana Cepelova on Saturday which was followed by another hard fought 3 set win by Genie Bouchard over Kristina Kucova, to give Canada the commanding 2-0 lead. On Sunday, Bouchard (ranked #18 in the world) clinched Canada’s spot in the World Group with a straight sets victory over Cepelova.
Canada’s date at the debutante ball will be revealed at the draw on June 4. Other World Group members for 2015 include 2014 semi-finalists, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany and Australia.
Canada’s hopes and dreams will all hinge on the future participation of Genie Bouchard and the accompanying Genie Army. Genie admitted after the Fed Cup tie that scheduling will be the biggest road block for her Fed Cup future. Unlike the ATP Tour that doesn’t run tourneys during Davis Cup weeks, the WTA maintains business as usual. As Genie continues her run to the top of the WTA rankings food chain, each WTA tourney will increase in importance.
If Genie bows out, then her singles spot would most likely go to Sharon Fichman, who at age 23 is ranked 91st in singles and 57th in doubles. Fichman is a feisty player at 5’4” who has marched her way into the top 100, coming a long way from 2003 when I saw her play at an Anna Kournikova exhibition in Hamilton, Ontario. Gabriela Dabrowski would be the next choice but is much less accomplished on the singles circuit. Stephanie Dubois is another option and has represented Canada in the pre-Genie era but is in the tail end of her career.
Like the Canadian men, who encountered depth problems when both Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil were injured, the women will face tough conditions without Genie Bouchard. But in the meantime, Keep Calm and Genie On!
Photo Credits: Tennis Canada and Canadian Press