London | Boulter leads Team GB into elite 2024 BJK Cup Qualifiers

Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart saw Great Britain safely through to next year’s elite group of the World Cup of Tennis by beating Sweden in the Billie Jean King Cup Play-offs, 3-1, at London’s Copper Box on Sunday.

You’re not gonna win a set after saving set points without a little bit of heart, a little bit of luck and a little bit of hard work, trusting the process and what I’ve put in these past many countless years. Katie Boulter

Four years after escaping the lowly zonal groups of the BJK Cup, Team GB maintained their place among the BJK Cup Qualifiers for next year’s Final.

Boulter delivered her second win of the tie with a tough 6-1 7-6(5) win over Kajsa Rinaldo Persson, and was followed by a solid performance from Dart, who maintained her composure as she defeated Caijsa Hennemann, 7-5 6-2, to take Great Britain into the Qualifiers next April, where they will fight for a place in the finals.

“It’s great that we got the job done,” said Anne Keothavong, the British captain. “[There] may have been a few bumps along the way, but we did what was necessary today.”

The tie was on a knife-edge following Saturday’s pair of rubbers, as Jodie Burrage, the British No 2, suffered a surprise defeat to Kajsa Rinaldo Persson, who is ranked No 372 and played far above her ranking to dig out a 6-4 6-1 win against the World No 93.

Burrage buckled under the pressure of her Billie Jean King Cup debut, admitting later to nerves, but Boulter steadied the ship when she overcame Caijsa Hennemann, 6-2 6-1, to level the series for the hosts, who were the firm favourites going into the tie.

Katie Boulter. who won both of her matches for Great Britain, embraces her Captain, Anne Keothavong

© Kate Green/Getty Images for LTA

On Sunday, Boulter took on the now confident Persson, who had played two tournaments in Britain to prepare for the tie.

Although Boulter missed two chances to break the Swede in her opening service game, she showed her quality by dominating from inside the baseline with controlled aggression as she blazed through an easy first set.

It was all downhill for Persson after that opening hold, as the British No 1 won 5 games on the trot to take the opener with some aplomb.

The World No 58 went a set and a break up, but a couple of double-faults allowed Persson to immediately break back, and the Swede rebounded, now retrieving and counter-punching brilliantly, and her defence began to draw errors from the British No 1 to take her just one game away from forcing a third set as Boulter lost her serve again in the 8th game.

Persson had 3 chances to level with a love hold, leading 5-3, 40-15, and a decider looked on the cards, but Boulter showed her mental toughness, benefiting from a lucky net cord winner and eliciting a double-fault from the Swede to hang in.

After a 4th missed set point, Boulter broke back, and began to claw her way back into the set, taking control in the tight breaker, in which she came from 4-5 down to win the final 3 points and take the win in straight sets.

“You’re not gonna win a set after saving set points without a little bit of heart, a little bit of luck and a little bit of hard work, trusting the process and what I’ve put in these past many countless years,” Boulter said.

Harriet Dart replaced Jodie Burrage and beat Caijsa Hennemann of Sweden on Sunday to clinch the tie for Team GB

© Kate Green/Getty Images for LTA

Keothavong replaced Burrage with the more experienced Dart, the World No 138, whose consistency and focus in the decisive moments drove her to a confident victory against Hennemann, ranked No 532.

Dart failed to take 2 break points in Hennemann’s opening service game before establishing a 5-3 lead, but she lost her serve while trying to close out the opening set as the Swede threatened to spring another surprise, but the British No 3 dusted herself down and broke her opponent again in the 11th game before holding to 30.

The second set proved to be a much more routine affair for the 27-year-old Londoner as Hennemann lost her serve straight away on a double-fault, and an identical story befell the Swede in the 7th game before she could only return wide on a ferocious Dart forehand on match point, sparking jubilant scenes for the GB troupe.

“They’re all in, generally, a good place at the moment,” Keothavong said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself or think too far into the future, but if they keep on putting the work in, there’s no reason why they can’t be right up there.”

Elsewhere, 8 teams earned their places in next April’s Qualifiers after also winning Play-off ties this weekend, while the defeated teams will compete at their regional Group I events in April 2024.

Slovakia defeated Argentina, 3-1

  • 10-11 November
  • NTC Arena, Bratislava, Slovakia (hard, indoors)

Belgium defeated Hungary, 3-1

  • 11-12 November
  • Dome de Charleroi, Belgium (hard, indoors)

Great Britain defeated Sweden, 3-1

  • 11-12 November
  • Copper Box Arena, London, Great Britain (hard, indoors)

Brazil defeated Korea, Republic, 4-0

  • 10-11 November
  • Arena BRB, Brasilia, Brazil (clay, outdoors)

Ukraine defeated Netherlands, 3-1

  • 11-12 November
  • SEB Arena, Vilnius, Lithuania (hard, indoors)

Romania defeated Serbia, 4-0

  • 10-11 November
  • Sport Hall Ibar Kraljevo, Kraljevo, Serbia

Japan defeated Colombia, 3-2

  • 10-11 November
  • Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan (hard, indoors)

Mexico defeated Austria, 3-2

  • 10-11 November
  • Multiversum Schwechat, Schwechat, Austria (clay, indoors)

Maia Lumsden, Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage, Katie Boulter and Heather Watson of Great Britain celebrate their victory on Sunday

© Kate Green/Getty Images for LTA



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