Monday, 18 April 2011

Going back in time, part III: Fed Cup, February 2011

To my great delight, the first Europe/Africa Zone Group I matches of 2011 in the Federation Cup were held in the city of Eilat, in Israel. That meant that 15 teams came to compete here, and among them, some of the world's top women tennis players: Wozniacki, Azarenka, A. Radwanska, Peer (of course), and more. The compound in Eilat is quite small, which meant that the viewers were able to be as close to the players as possible.

Unfortunately for me, I could only be there for the first (out of four) days, but that day was very successful. I started with watching Vika Azarenka practice on the centre court.


And yes, she's quite vocal during the practice as well ;) After the practice, I had a chance to go and ask for an autograph. There weren't too many people around, so she looked a bit surprised at the request (then again, it was just after she signed for somebody else, so maybe I misinterpreted her expression...).

Quickly enough, the tie between Belarus and Austria started, and provided some enjoyable games. Belarus won all 3 matches, unsurprisingly.


From the highest corner of the court, I was able to see a bit of Agnieszka Radwanska's practice:
 

Then, after the morning ties and just before the afternoon ones, there was an opening ceremony with all the teams (apart from two that were still playing at the time).

Denmark:

Poland:


Switzerland (I managed to get Patty Schnyder's autograph earlier, she was really nice):


 After the ceremony, it was time for the Israel-Luxembourg tie on centre court.  First up was Julia Glushko, against Luxembourg's veteran Anne Kremer. It was Julia's first FC match in front of a home crowd, and she won it in 3 sets, to the crowd's delight. I didn't get her autograph in the end of the match, but during one of the changeovers, I managed to get one from Shahar Peer :)


Then Shahar played (and won) against Mandy Minella:



I couldn't stay for the doubles match, as I had to catch the flight back home, but I'm glad that I got the chance to see so many players at once. Israel didn't manage to advance to World Group II, but there are rumours that the 2012 games might also be in Eilat, and if it will really happen - this time I'll make sure to get there for more than 1 day.

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