The Czech women’s tennis team are looking to continue a winning run in the prestigious Fed Cup. Last year, the team clinched their fourth title in five years in front of home fans; this weekend, they hope to continue their streak by defeating the French squad in Strasbourg.
The only time the Czech women’s team failed to clinch the Fed Cup title in the last five years was in 2013, when the squad was absent in the final. Otherwise, the Czechs have converted each time and will be hoping to continue their dominant run this Saturday and Sunday in Strasbourg, France. On the squad are former Czech no. 1 and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová, the current top Czech player Karolína Plíšková, Barbora Strýcová and Grand Slam winning doubles specialist Lucie Hradecká.
On paper, the squad should probably be considered the favourites although the French team, coached by Amelie Mauresmo, is no pushover: Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet and Pauline Parmentier. The French players will have their home fans behind them and not surprisingly the build-up has been intense: in the run-up, Czech Radio described how ads of the squads were visible on local trams and streets. The venue in Strasbourg, with a capacity of about 6,000 fans, should be packed. Czech player Lucie Hradecká described her first impressions.
“When we first saw it, the hall seemed small. I think it will sell out and that the atmosphere will be intense.”
Fellow player Karolina Plíšková agrees, saying that the audience would be very vocal and visible.
“The fans are seated quite close to the court so I think they will make themselves heard. [France] has great fans, not just at Roland Garros but at all tournaments. Things will probably get quite loud.”
Petra Kvitová, seen by the French press as a clear leader on the team despite her recent drop to 11 spot in the WTA rankings, made clear she had had fun preparing for the final, commissioning a special pair of tennis shoes designed in the national red, white and blue, and featuring references to earlier wins. Back in 2011, when the women’s team won their first title in Moscow, the players had worn matching silver earrings of the Czech lion. Is there a case of nerves ahead of the weekend? Petra Kvitová suggested that while it would be intense, the team could use its experience to its advantage. Here’s what she had to say:
“Having been there before, I think we are able to see things with a bit of distance. Of course, there is still pressure but it is not as intimidating. I think they are there for the first time and don’t know what to fully expect. They are playing at home, so that could be a little intimidating.”