|Three to represent The Bahamas at Fed Cup|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Jan 30, 2014
The early hosting of Fed Cup this year will affect the team’s overall performance, said President of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) Derron Donaldson yesterday.
He revealed that The Bahamas will only field three players this time around.
The country will be without the services of Simone Pratt, Danielle Thompson and Kerrie Cartwright - three of the top players in the country. Larikah Russell, Nikkita Fountain and Iesha Shepard will have the responsibility of carrying the country’s flag at the tournament, which will run February 5-8 at the Paraguayan Yacht and Golf Club, in Lambare, Paraguay. The Bahamas was promoted into the Americas Zone Group I, in July 2013. That team included Fountain, Pratt, Gibson and Russell, who was player/captain.
“What a difference a year makes, or in this case, a couple of months,” said Donaldson. “I remember getting the phone call saying that we were promoted into the Americas Group I. Personally, I think that was the biggest news, in the women’s division for the association. A lot of other notable events took place last year, but the promotion of the Fed Cup team had to top the list.
“This year, we will be without the services of players like Kerrie, Simone and Danielle. Both Kerrie and Danielle have college commitments and Simone is currently on the tour. She also has a slight injury, which she is nursing. Overall, I think we have a strong team, two veteran players and a young up-and-coming tennis player.
“Iesha is only 14-years-old and new to this level, but that doesn’t mean she is inexperienced. She is one of our top junior female players. In fact, she defeated Nikkita at the end-of-year tournament. That alone was a confidence booster for her.”
The Bahamas will join Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador in Pool ‘B’. Mexico, host country Paraguay and Venezuela will contest Pool ‘A’.
A round-robin format is set in place, with the top team in Pool ‘A’ going up against the number one squad from Pool ‘B’. The winning team from this match will advance to the World Group II playoffs in April. The second place team in Pool ‘A’ will take to the court against the fourth place team in Pool ‘B’, and vice versa. The countries finishing third will play each other, with the losing nations being relegated to the Americas Zone Group II, in 2015.
Donaldson said: “I am not going to count our team out. Larikah and Nikkita are both veteran players, with a lot of experiences under their belts. They are tough and know what it takes to win tournaments. I am sure that they will lift Iesha up and show her the right way. No matter the result, I am sure that all three players will give their all and represent The Bahamas very well.”
Donaldson said the three-member squad will leave for Paraguay on Monday.