The Australian Fed Cup Captain Alicia Molik has revealed that Storm Sanders will be given a debut for the first round tie against Russia as she joins Samantha Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, and Ashleigh Barty.
“I think this next team announcement for Hobart is significant and exciting. I'm really proud of the team's efforts in the past. Storm Sanders has been named in the Fed Cup team as a player, which gives me great honor to choose Storm. She's really proved herself. She's so dedicated. She's part of the future of Australian tennis.”
Sanders, 19, made her Grand Slam debut at the 2014 Australian Open where she lost in the first round to Italy’s Camila Giorgi but has made great strides in the last 12 months, winning her first professional title and rising to just outside the Top 200.
“I'm really excited when Alicia told me the news. I Couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. Playing for your country is one of the best feelings you can get,” said Sanders. “I was selected as orange girl for the Fed Cup tie in Switzerland last year. That was an opportunity to get to know Alicia, the girls, the doc, physios...It's exciting I'm officially in the team.”
Molik emphasized that the team is chosen with the long-term success of the nation taken into account as well as immediate success: “We're always very mindful in our team makeup. We start blooding the young players. We've seen [Davis Cup Captain] Pat [Cash] do it with the young guys in his team.”
Stosur has traditionally carried much of the nation’s expectation in recent times but in Dellacqua they also have one of the stories of the Australian Open, reaching the fourth round after winning a wild card from Tennis Australia and could provide the side with an impressive No. 2 option.
“I expected Casey to do well this summer. She played a number of challengers which she won in Victoria back‑to‑back weeks. She came to Melbourne and played the playoff, which is like tournament conditions…I think Casey is playing better now than she has in her whole career.”
Australia, looking to reach the Fed Cup semifinals for the first time since 1993, has selected the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart as the venue for the tie, which also hosts pre-Australian Open tour events and the former world No. 8 Molik hopes that can give her team the advantage.
“They've had a chance to play on the surface, get used to the court, the conditions. All of our team players are really seasoned with the conditions in Hobart.”
The Russian team reached the Final of the competition last year and has won the last three meetings between the two nations. With Anastasia Myskina taking over as captain, the tie will also see two former rivals from the Tour go head-to-head in their new roles for the first time.
“I played many matches against Anastasia. I think it's great she's involved in women's tennis. It's fantastic. She was a great role model for the girls, the women. She always really enjoyed playing Fed Cup. I know that. I think she'll be a great role model for [the] team.”
The Australian captain played in 22 Fed Cup ties before retiring in 2011 and so is well aware of what it takes to come away with a win in the competition and the level of play required and is keen to pass this on to her team.
“I think Fed Cup and Davis Cup always brings out the best in players. It always takes players to a new level, which is why it's important not to take any match lightly at all... I want the team fighting for the spots in the team. It's what raises any level in any nation, I think, when it is competitive amongst each other.”