The Fed Cup finals happen this weekend (November 3-4) between the Czech Republic and Serbia. This year’s draw will be interesting because the Czechs have the 2011 Wimbledon champ and 2011 WTA Championships champ, Petra Kvitova. Meanwhile, the Serbs have a former number one Jelena Jankovic and the 2008 Roland Garros champ Ana Ivanovic. Kvitova withdrew from the WTA Championships last week with a stomach virus so hopefully she will be well enough to play. The finals should be on the Tennis Channel but will be delayed. So be advised that checking tennis apps or websites beforehand may spoil the results.
What is the FED CUP?
The Fed Cup (women) and the Davis Cup (men) are played year-round. Whenever the tennis pros have a break from their busy schedules, they meet with teammates, host the event or visit another host country.
Eight teams comprise each side of the draw. How officials pick the 16 teams is complicated, like trying to make head or tails of sustained legal jargon. Ultimately, the format, while confusing, resembles a round robin and zones like soccer’s World Cup. After teams form, it is a normal drive to the end of the tournament. A committee determines where the ties are played.
What is a TIE?
When two countries play each other, they call it a “tie.” This causes much confusion when listening to the commentators talk about past “ties.” In a Fed Cup tie, there are five matches, four singles and one doubles over two days (Saturday & Sunday). On Saturday two singles matches are played. On Sunday the singles competitors are switched and there is a doubles match. It is similar to USTA teams in the USA but with only one doubles match.
Every match is called a “rubber.” So if Czech Republic wins three out of five rubbers against Serbia, Czech Republic wins the tie. If Czech Republic wins the first three matches, the last two rubbers do not matter but they are still played. Those matches are known as “dead rubbers.”
Why is Fed Cup fun?
Fed Cup is like a big party. The fans revel in being very rowdy. In the polite world of tennis, the Fed Cup allows spectators to make as much noise as they want in between points. And, the fans do. The rules at Fed Cup also contribute to the unconventional nature of the event and increase the excitement and anticipation. For example, the home team can have crazy rules like unlimited shot tracker challenges. In addition, at a Fed Cup, players really enjoy representing their respective countries. National pride motivates players in ways that individual play may not. Players that feed off an energized atmosphere and a little bit of national pride can become Fed Cup heroes. As a result, unknown players can make a great name for themselves.
USA Fed Cup
The USA’s Fed Cup team is coached by Mary Joe Fernandez who was a strong singles and doubles player in the early 90’s and is one of the most informative sports commentators. The USA holds the record for most championships won – 17. Australia is next with seven. In the past, minor controversy has erupted when the Williams sisters say they might play in the final but at the last minute decline. It is unfortunate that one of the most progressive countries for women in the world, the United States, has such a successful female team, yet many people do not support or even know they exist. In contrast, Croatia’s women’s team enjoys regular television coverage showing packed arenas of screaming fans blowing horns.
The Fed Cup promotes quality women’s professional tennis for spectators. Camaraderie between teammates and the opportunity for younger players to learn from their accomplished elders appeal to participants, both neophytes and the renowned. Participants and spectators know that the Fed Cup is an event where successful teams yield the next individual players that make the tour.
Photo credit: US PRESSWIRE
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