By Emily Forder-White
Nowadays, the famous Fed Cup and Davis Cup trophies do their public tours under heavy scrutiny, but this was not the case back in 1976.
Shortly after Czechoslovakia won their first Fed Cup title in 1975, their poster girl Martina Navratilova defected to America. At the time the Czech federation and the authorities were so scorned by the move and considered the cup as tainted, that for fear of it being discarded and lost, it was taken in by Helena Sukova’s mother, Vera, who was captain of the team that beat Australia that year.
So the trophy sat proudly in the home of Vera and 10-year-old Helena for the whole of the next year and had its photo taken with friends and family and anyone who happened to pop by.
Today the cup takes more of a public stage, and while it’s been here in the lead-up to this weekend’s final, it’s been on a mini tour to various venues in Prague including the Galerie Harfa shopping mall next door. But it wasn’t on its own for too long – the 110cm high Davis Cup trophy stopped by too on its promo tour for the Davis Cup Final in two weeks time, which features Czech Republic and Spain at the same O2 Arena. The cups might just have to get used to each other.
Practice makes perfect
By Ed Pearson
It’s always interesting to see how relaxed tennis players are when they are in practice mode and this is no more obvious than at a Fed Cup by BNP Paribas tie when they are surrounded by their friends and team-mates.
Ahead of this weekend’s Fed Cup Final the Czech and Serbian teams have been frequenting the court at the O2 Arena with regularity and there is always something noteworthy going on.
Take the Czechs’ warm-up for example. What better way to get the blood flowing than to play a game of volleyball-cum-football with a tennis ball? Lucie Safarova and two of the Czech coaches showed their skills and proved too strong for the trio of Czech captain Petr Pala, Lucie Hradecka and Klara Zakopalova earlier this week.
The latter has proven herself a formidable hitting partner for the Czech team this week and there was even talk of her having to take to the court in the build-up as rumours of Petra Kvitova’s illness were blown out of proportion.
Her team-mate, Andrea Hlavackova, was spotted wearing a camera on her head which one can only image was to help track her movement around the court or just to see what life looks like from the doubles specialist's point of view.
The Serbians brought in a left-handed hitting partner so that Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic could get their eye in ahead of playing both the Czech lefties in Saturday’s singles rubbers.
Jankovic and Kvitova were both seen hitting with members of the opposite sex – not that this is anything new in the modern game – but it is always interesting to see the girls putting the boys through their paces.
When all is said and done the time for practice is coming to an end. Both teams know that what separates them from having their names engraved on the Fed Cup trophy is being at their best when it matters most.