BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Argentina have recaptured a place back in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II after defeating China 4-1 at Parque Roca. However, this victory, which had its foundations on a strong performance by Paula Ormaechea, might mean a lot more than just another win.
Argentina enjoyed a golden age when Gabriela Sabatini used to show her talent and grace on the tour, reaching a career-high world No. 3 and winning the only Grand Slam title for an Argentine female tennis player. Ines Gorrochategui and Florencia Labat are other examples of relatively extended success, with Paola Suarez being a bond between generations.
Against China this weekend, Argentina captain Bettina Fulco picked the same four players that earned the chance to be in the play-off by winning the Americas Zone Group I in February, leaving aside an experienced No. 127 Gisela Dulko.
“When I became Fed Cup captain last year I told the people in the National Association that I wanted to form a young group, with players coming up. Fortunately, we had a couple of junior players helping us this week that could be involved in the team in the future. I am very happy the way things are going,” explained Fulco.
In fact, the Argentine team was led by the youngest player, the 19-year-old Ormaechea, who represents also the future expectations for Argentina to have a top player.
“Being the leader of the team is nice, but difficult too. Maybe, people don’t know how hard it is, and they think that you’re always going to win. That’s the most difficult part, because they expect much more from you than from the rest of the team. For me, it was a really nice experience and next time I think it will be easier for me to play”, commented Ormaechea, who loved the moments when the crowd shouted her name during her matches.
Precisely, the fans were another highlight of the weekend. Although 2,000 people each day might not mean that much in certain cases, the number sets a record of attendance for a Fed Cup tie played in Buenos Aires. It is important to remark that Sabatini played Fed Cup only once in Argentina, in a tie that was held in the Province of Tucuman, 1,300 km away from Buenos Aires.
“I think that this experience here is very important, not only for the team, but also for the kids, because they can see that it’s possible to do it. We are young, but we are skilled. It takes a lot of work, but we can definitely do it,” added Ormaechea.
In this sense, a lot of little girls from many tennis academies and schools were invited for free by the Argentina Association of Tennis (AAT), something that resulted in more support for the team, and is expected to raise the interest in female tennis.
Fulco was delighted. “That was one of the greatest sides of this tie. A lot of little kids from tennis schools came to see the games. Besides, all the best juniors were here. We talked to them about tennis and their future. I think it was a great motivation for them.”
Soon, it will be time to start thinking about the future. Before the end of Roland Garros, the ties for next year’s World Group II will have been announced. “Honestly, I didn’t expect the promotion to happen this year, but next. However, we were lucky that China didn’t come with their best players, so here we are. Our first dream has already come true,” said Fulco.
Captain Bettina Fulco (ARG) - 22/04/2012