The future is now for Tennis Canada’s women’s team when it faces the powerful Czech Republic in Québec City this weekend.
Canada makes its debut in the elite World Group of the Fed Cup on Saturday (get tickets to matches at PEPS) without the country’s leading lady of tennis, Eugenie Bouchard. Also out is Aleksandra Wozniak with an injury. In their place a couple of teenagers – Françoise Abanda (in photo above) and Charlotte Robillard-Millette – could be asked to step in and deliver in the best-of-five against the European opponents.
The Canadian team will also feature a pair of veterans in 24-year old Sharon Fichman and 22-year old Gabriela Dabrowski. The WTA has Fichman ranked 134th in singles and 108th in doubles, while Dabrowski sits 185th and 50th in the two categories.
Abanda turns 18 this week while Robillard-Millette – who plays on the junior circuit – just celebrated her 16th birthday. Abanda had enjoyed a win against Czech opposition in a tournament in 2014, however the player she beat, Barbora Krejcikova, isn’t on the Fed Cup team for the visitors who are deep in talent.
Even without world number four, Petra Kvitova, and n0. 15 Lucie Safarova, the Czech team is loaded with dangerous players. It’s easy to see why the defending champions are probably the strongest team in the competition.
Karolina Pliskova will likely get the Czechs underway in singles, she is ranked 22nd in the world. Another tough teammate is 62nd ranked Tereza Smitkova, who gobbled up massive tour points in 2014 by winning a pair of tournaments and reaching the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Also in the Czech stable is a third top 100 singles player in Denisa Allertova, plus doubles specialist Lucie Hradecka is there if needed.
The absence of big names like Bouchard, Kvitova and Safarova is partially owed to the WTA tour structure, where tournaments are closely scheduled giving national federations a small window to recruit players for Fed Cup ties.
The tie will be decided in a best-of-five format with four singles and a doubles match. Two singles contests are scheduled for Saturday starting at 1 p.m. ET. The doubles match and another two singles are set for Sunday.