The Swiss Can’t Miss — Quotes from Billie Jean King Cup — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Nov. 15, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday! Can everyone talk one deep breath? Why? Because it’s officially the offseason! Of course, there’s never a true offseason in tennis, but the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals wrapped up in Glasgow this past weekend. The tennis was honestly pretty inspiring — especially from three teams: Switzerland, Australia and hosts Great Britain.

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After a tough loss to the Russian Tennis Federation in last year’s final, Switzerland finally captured their first BJK Cup with a 2-0 win over Australia. Belinda Bencic was named the week’s MVP after the Olympic gold medalist didn’t drop a set en route to her country’s victory.

Though Bencic was by far the star player of the week, it was a team effort for the Swiss, who earned the first-ever blue jackets designed by Tory Burch. Jil Teichmann delivered with an incredible three-set win over Storm Sanders and a third-set tiebreaker over Elisabetta Cocciaretto, while Viktorija Golubic continued to bring her best tennis for her country. She upset Bianca Andreescu in the group stage before defeating Karolina Muchova to help down the Czech Republic in the semifinals.

Though it wasn’t meant to be for Australia, they had quite the week, highlighted by their semifinal thriller over Great Britain. Perhaps the biggest comeback of the week went to Ajla Tomljanovic. Needing to win against Elise Mertens, she found herself down 4-6, 1-4 before reeling off eight games in a row before the Belgian retired. Storm Sanders played well above her singles ranking to knock off three higher-ranked opponents in straight sets before falling to Teichmann in three.

Great Britain technically didn’t qualify for the Finals, but were awarded a wildcard when it was announced they were hosting. With their backs against the wall and needing a win against the highly-favored Spanish, Harriet Dart launched a huge upset over Paula Badosa to spearhead their semifinal showing. Debutants Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls, who have been doing very well on the ITF World Tour, sealed the win and narrowly lost their decider to Australia in the semis. They’re definitely a team to watch out for in 2023.

With the 2023 draw already unveiled, do you have any picks for who will take the qualifiers in April? Right now, the Great Britain vs. France tie — likely with WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia — will be the one to watch.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Mayar Sherif continues to dominate at the WTA 125 level — capturing her fourth singles title overall and third of 2022 at the LP Chile Colina Open. The Egyptian defeated Kateryna Baindl in a three-set thriller, but came up short in the doubles final. She and Tamara Zidansek fell to Yana Sizikova and Aldila Sutjiadi in a match tiebreaker.

The United Cup entry lists have been announced and the beginning of the season will be extremely enticing with Iga Swiatek, Maria Sakkari and Jessica Pegula among the WTA entries set to partner up with ATP compatriots.

Iga Swiatek and Katerina Siniakova claimed the year-end WTA No. 1 titles in singles and doubles, respectively — ending a year with many breakthroughs and career-highs.

The WTA’s Coach Inclusion Program is something that’s been needed for quite some time and many are hoping it will have a long-term effect.

A WTA Finals return to Dickies Arena isn’t out of the question according to WTA CEO Steve Simon. A last-minute scheduling in the midst of the Houston Astros winning the World Series and NFL/college football taking viewers AND Halloween? They had a lot against them and I wouldn’t mind seeing a fair chance given their way.

Veronika Kudermetova is one of three players to finish 2022 in the Top 10 in both singles and doubles and the 2022 WTA Finals doubles champion aims to be a mainstay at the top of the game.

David Kane and Stephanie Livaudais look back at the WTA Rising Stars tournament and debate whether or not it’s needed nowadays to compete with the ATP’s Next Gen. A point I didn’t even think about but I already stan — a United Cup with players 23 & under to end the season.

Something to keep an eye out in 2023 is Netflix’s investment in women’s tennis. The streaming giant has their big docuseries coming out, but apparently they may want to get the tour’s streaming rights.

After call-outs by the likes of Billie Jean King, Wimbledon will revisit their dress code to accommodate female players who have voiced their concern about wearing all-white while on their menstrual cycle.

The IX alum Sloane Stephens dished about her partnerships with IcyHot and Whoop, but also the WTA’s focus on mental health initiatives.

Another The IX alum, Vicky Duval, slayed in her debut as commentator this past week on the Tennis Channel!

A fitter Ajla Tomljanovic saw the Aussie reach multiple Grand Slam quarterfinals this year, but even with Netflix cameras in tow, she is finding joy in the sport again.

Colette Lewis of ZooTennis spoke with Peyton Stearns, the 2022 NCAA champion who’s looking to break into the Top 100 next year following a productive first 6 months on tour.

It’s Naomi saying “he’s camera shy,” for me:

Jennifer Brady and Martina Navratilova are two names that are getting behind Sense Arena Tennis, a new virtual reality platform to help players train off of the court.

Tweet of the Week

Between Coco Vandeweghe’s statement and coach Craig Kardon’s response, this throwback is perfect:

Five at The IX: Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Q. Heinz, what kind of legacy do you think this triumph can have on women’s tennis in particular in Switzerland?

CAPTAIN GUENTHARDT: In Switzerland? Well, it’s just to prove that you can become a world-class tennis player in Switzerland. This sounds obvious after Federer and Hingis and others, but you have to deliver, you know, because there is a lot of competition among sports, yeah.

I just believe when somebody sees us winning here and the emotions we go through, especially youngsters, hopefully to think it’s cool. Let’s play some tennis, you know. Keep the legacy going.

Q. A great bunch, Alicia. You have enjoyed working with them again?

CAPTAIN MOLIK: Oh, gosh, they are incredible. I mean, they are a dream in the sense of they are genuine, caring, loving, supportive friends to each other. And also, what probably I reflect on the most and what I’m mostly proud of is the level of respect that each player has for not just each other, but in particular, all the staff members of the team, you know, I think they treat everyone as equals, and that’s really important when you have an entire team where everyone plays a different role, and the focus is obviously the players, but I think they really share in their victories and practices and have a lot of respect for everyone on the team.

Yeah, they are a dream for me. They’re great people, great individuals. I think that shows on the court. I think that’s why I think every player here has a pretty decent fan base out there on the WTA Tour, because they don’t just give great efforts but they give a bit of themselves too in terms of their personalities on the court and then what they give off the court.

You know, great ambassadors. I think what today has done is we have had a whole bunch of young juniors in Australia being interested in that the final, once again, it does bring a lot of interest. And we have now got a lot of young juniors that aspire to be in the position as these players. That’s what they have created for themselves.

Q. Days like this, do they make you think this fantastic career that goes on and on, that you’re going to extend it, you could be playing at 40?

SAMANTHA STOSUR: Probably not, but, you know, if we do manage to win tomorrow, then that would be an incredible moment. Regardless of anything, we’ve got today, we’ve got what we have all just experienced.

I have been pretty lucky to have some pretty incredible moments in my career, and weeks like this and matches like this and days like this is what you play for. You want to be out there amongst it.

Q. To both of you, just curious, when you came out of college, what did you think was possible in your career, and how does steering your team into a Fed Cup semifinal compare with that?

OLIVIA NICHOLLS: Well, I think, look, we are both great examples that you don’t have to go pro at the age of 16, 17, 18, like I didn’t start my professional career until I finished university at the age of what, 21, 22.

Lissy, the same. I went to English university. I went to Loughborough. Lissy went to American university. Shows both pathways, you can go on to do great things.

I just hope that we have shown this week or throughout the year, et cetera, that there are so many different pathways in this sport and that you don’t have to go pro at a really young age. I think the time we had at university really allowed us to develop as players, as people.

Then when we did come out onto the tour, we weren’t tired. We were fresh, ready to go. Maybe some people, when they go out to start their professional careers when they are young, they might get burnt out at the age of 22, 23. We are veterans, as it were, but especially in doubles, who’s to say we couldn’t have another 10 years on the tour?

ALICIA BARNETT: We weren’t like the best juniors ever, but we love tennis and we just kept plugging on. I mean, I hope that this is like an example for like the younger generation, like if you have a dream, just go for it. If you have the means and the desire, you can make it work.

I don’t think Liv and I at the age of 15 really truly believed that was going to happen, but we wanted it. We tried and we got here and we are in the semifinal (smiling).

Q. Caty, obviously it’s your first match, taking the court. You told me the other day this is like a dream to represent the U.S. How did you feel out there on the court?

CATY McNALLY: Yeah, I felt really good. Kathy told me earlier today that I was going to be playing doubles, so I don’t think it’s easy sitting around all day, but I was super motivated to get out there.

When I heard I was playing with Coco, no matter who it was with, I was excited to play, but we haven’t played together in a while. Like she said, our games just gel together super well. We get along, we have so much fun. I think that’s the key is we just enjoy each other’s presence out there.

I thought we played amazing tonight and just couldn’t have asked for a better debut. Thank you, Kathy, for trusting in us.

COCO GAUFF: For trusting in us. If you saw me in Fort Worth…

CAPTAIN RINALDI: I did see you in Fort Worth. I watched all your matches. Caty was on one of my junior teams, so I was so thrilled to be back on the bench with her.

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By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
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Written by Joey Dillon