USA Fed Cup Tennis Matches Coming to Kona
Some of the top women’s tennis players from the United States and Poland will converge on the Holua Tennis Center in Kona for an important Fed Cup match in February.
The United States Tennis Association and Hawai’i Tourism Authority jointly announced Tuesday that the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round series will be contested on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7.
“We are all excited about the opportunity to host the Fed Cup here in Hawai’i,” said USTA Hawai’i Pacific Executive Director Ron Romano in a statement. “We look forward to extending our Aloha Spirit to the players and everyone involved so they have a memorable experience.”
Next February’s matches will be the first Fed Cup matches ever held in Hawai’i. Thirteen years ago, the men’s equivalent to the Fed Cup, the Davis Cup, was held at the Mauna Lani Racquet Club. The U.S., led by greats Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras, defeated Argentina 5-0.
Timing was an important factor in making the event happen in a very busy year, which includes Olympic competition in Rio next summer.
“It makes a lot of sense with the end of the Australian [Open] and a lot of players making their way back to the mainland,” said Jeff Ryan, Senior Director of Team Events. “We’ve gotten some good support from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.”
There is a lot at stake when both countries get together. The winner moves on to the World Group Playoff, which takes place April 16-17, with a spot in the 2017 World Games on the line. The losing nation moves to the World Group II Playoff in April for a chance to stay in the group next year.
Each country will have four representatives to participate in five different matches over two days. Likely to highlight Poland’s roster will be Agnieszka Radwanska, ranked sixth in the world. U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez has until ten days prior to the event to make the determination on who will compete on her team, but there has already been a good response from some of the country’s best players.
“We’ve heard that Venus [Williams] very much wants to play next year. We’ve heard that Madison Keys very much wants to play next year. We’ve heard from Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is on the comeback trail, and she wants to play next year,” said Ryan, based on what has been relayed to him by Fernandez.
Is there a chance that Venus’ sister, Serena Williams, makes an appearance?
“I have faith that at some point, she’ll let us know if she would like to play,” Ryan said.
Individually, these matches are important to qualify for the Olympic Summer Games in Rio, meaning that there is always the chance that Serena Williams, or another well-known American tennis player, would say yes to traveling to the islands. It remains to be seen how soon Serena Williams recovers from her stunning loss at the U.S. Open in September, which ended her chances at achieving the calendar Grand Slam.
Hawai’i will become the sixteenth state to host a Fed Cup event. If all parties have their way, more tennis events could be heading this way.
“The folks at Hawai’i Tourism Authority have already made it known to me that their goal includes someday getting the Davis Cup here,” Ryan explained. “They’ve already made it clear that they continue to want to talk to us.”
Both days of Fed Cup competition are scheduled to be aired on Tennis Channel. Tickets will go on sale beginning on Friday, Dec. 11.