Shahar Pe'er and Julia Glushko_311.
(photo credit: Lidor Goldberg)
Israel’s Fed Cup team faces Luxembourg in its Europe/Africa Zone Group I Pool B opener in Eilat on Wednesday, knowing only a win will do if it has any intention of progressing to the World Group II playoffs.
Less than three years ago, the national team was among the top-eight nations in the prestigious World Group, but four straight defeats saw the side drop all the way down to its current predicament.
Israel’s first attempt to return to World Group II ended in disappointment in Portugal last year, but captain Lior Mor is hoping that the improvement shown by Shahar Pe’er and Julia Glushko over the past 12 months, as well as home-court advantage, will result in the blue-and-white climbing back to prominence.
However, to have any chance of doing so, it will first need to beat Pool B’s weakest team, Luxembourg, on Wednesday.
“We are expecting the Luxembourg tie to be just as tough as our next encounters,” Mor said. “We hope to record a good result which will give us confidence for the rest of the event.”
Barring any major surprises or injuries, Glushko, who jumped 28 places to a new career-high of 205 in the world on Monday, will open Wednesday’s tie with a match against Luxembourg’s No. 2 Anne Kremer (169), with Pe’er, currently ranked at a career-best No. 11, to face Mandy Minella (137) in the second match of the day.
Pe’er and Glushko are also expected to team up in the doubles match that will wrap-up the three-match tie later Wednesday evening .
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“It is always fun to join-up with the Fed Cup team,” Pe’er said. “I started playing Fed Cup at the age of 12 and even though 10 years have passed I still remember all the different experiences.”
Israel will face Poland in its second tie on Thursday before completing its pool matches with a meeting against Bulgaria the following day.
Israel will need to finish the pool in first position to advance to a
tie against another of the three group winners on Saturday for a place
in April’s World Group II playoffs.
The bottom nations in each pool face a fight to avoid relegation.
Besides Israel, 14 other teams have come to play in Israel’s most southern city.
In Pool A, Patty Schnyder and fellow Top 50 player Timea Bacsinszky will
lead Switzerland, with Great Britain having Elena Baltacha and Anne
Keothavong and Denmark being led by world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Belarus, having nominated world No. 9 Victoria Azarenka and world No. 73
Olga Govortsova, will be the favorite in Pool C, which also includes
Austria, Croatia and Greece.
Pool D will be competed between Hungary, Romania, Netherlands and Latvia.
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