Sign up to our free sport newsletter for all the latest news on everything from cycling to boxing
Sign up to our free sport email for all the latest news
Wins for Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart ensured Great Britain avoided Billie Jean King Cup embarrassment against Sweden at London’s Copper Box.
Dart replaced Jodie Burrage following her nightmare debut in the competition on Saturday and the 27-year-old claimed the decisive point in a 3-1 victory that keeps Anne Keothavong’s side at the elite level of the competition.
Given Sweden were without their top two players and did not have anyone ranked inside 350 to call on, defeat – particularly on home soil – was unthinkable.
Ultimately they recovered well from Burrage’s collapse against Kajsa Rinaldo Persson, with Boulter overcoming some difficult moments in a 6-1 7-6 (5) win over the same player for her second win of the weekend before Dart defeated Caijsa Hennemann 7-5 6-2.
It was no surprise to see Keothavong opt for the greater experience of Dart ahead of Burrage, who will hope that she is given another chance to prove herself in 2024.
Boulter has established herself as the clear British number one this season and it was appropriate she ended her year by playing the leading role for her country at the same venue where in 2019 she suffered a serious back injury that badly stalled her progress.
It was not until earlier this season that she finally returned to the top 100, and this time she has built on the breakthrough while avoiding injury, currently sitting at 58 in the rankings.
“It’s been a whirlwind for many different reasons,” the 27-year-old said. “I think the work I’ve put in the last 10 years has really started to show.
“You never know when you’re going to get your little break. I finally got one this year and I felt like I used that momentum continuing from the grass-court season into the hard-court swing as well and I think that’s the part I’m most proud of.
“I sit here and I can say I love the grass and I love playing in England and I love the British crowd but it’s the other tournaments around the rest of the year that make the difference and that’s what’s going to keep my ranking at the highest point.
“I’ve really stepped it up this year in consistency. I know it’s an uphill battle next year and I’m excited for it, it’s a challenge and it’s somewhere I haven’t been before.”
Boulter did not have things all her own way against Persson, who again played well above her ranking of 372.
The Swede had four chances to send the contest to a decider when she served for the second set at 5-3, but Boulter saved them all and finished the tie-break strongly.
Dart was the star of last year’s run to the semi-finals of the competition in Glasgow but she has endured a difficult season, dropping outside the top 100.
She will remember her win over Hennemann more for the significance than the performance, but she was solid in seeing off the world number 532 and looked emotional as she celebrated with her team-mates.
The triumph means Britain move forward to April’s qualifiers, where victory would see them reach the finals week by right for the first time.