February 10, 2019
Johanna Konta showed the fighting spirit that makes international team tennis so special.
No wonder Sir Andy Murray counts his GB Olympic and Davis Cup triumphs so highly on his list of achievements.
Konta and her victorious team mates – Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan – just tasted the special pleasure of Fed Cup tennis.
Four thrilling days at Bath University, England. Several tense battles in front of a fanatical crowd.
Hard-fought wins over Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and, finally, Serbia.
Now the British women have made it to the April play-offs for World Group II. One more team victory would mean a return to the World Group for the first time in 26 years.
The draw will soon be made. The penultimate hurdle was already incredibly tough.
Everything hung in the balance at the end of the second set during Konta’s decisive 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic on that dramatic Saturday.
There might very easily have been no third set. Konta had to control a rising panic and dig deep for her country.
She explained: ‘I progressively just started feeling more and more unwell. Feeling light-headed, shaky, feeling a little bit out-of-body.
‘It got the better of me at the end of the second set. I really just tried not to panic. I had to quickly assess what my limitations were.
‘I tried to zone in on the ball and time it as well as I could. And I tried to direct the ball as well as possible.’
It worked. But before Konta could give it that all-or-nothing final flourish, she lay on the floor, head in hands.
Her captain, Anne Keothavong, gave Konta the chance to quit.
‘I gave her the option. She said she wanted to keep going, to give herself a chance, to give herself the opportunity to win her match for the team.
‘She didn’t have to continue if she felt she couldn’t, but she wanted to. She showed so much courage and determination to find a way.’
But it wasn’t just Konta. This was a team effort, after all.
Katie Boulter, and doubles stars Harriet Dart and Katie Swan all brought home the bacon, winning all their matches in a four-day tennis marathon.
After Boulter’s fourth win – by 6-4, 6-3 over Ivana Jorovic – she admitted her results had been ‘probably better than I imagined.’
Then she summed up what had driven all the British women during this Fed Cup extravaganza.
‘Playing for your county is a little different to just playing for yourself. You’re trying to make people proud.’