Photo: Martin Sidorjak
As they put the finishing touches on their preparations for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, the Canadian team presented by Sobeys is looking forward to its round-robin ties against France and the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF).
Hosted at the O2 Arena in Prague, the team held its pre-tournament press conference on Saturday to preview their upcoming matches. Interim Captain Sylvain Bruneau and the full cast of players – Rebecca Marino, Francoise Abanda, Gabriela Dabrowski and Carol Zhao – were in attendance to field questions from the media.
With a few days of practice already under their belts, the Canadians have had the chance to assess their surroundings in the Czech capital and they are pleased with what’s greeted them. “The conditions are really nice, we like the court and as Canadians we like to play indoors,” Bruneau said. “So, those are good conditions for us.”
Both of their round-robin opponents will pose difficult tests for the Canadian team. As the No. 1-ranked nation in the world and reigning champions from 2019, France are first up on Monday (5:30 a.m. Eastern) followed by the RTF on Tuesday (5:30 a.m. Eastern). While the team knows it won’t be easy, there’s an assured confidence among the Canadian camp.
“Every tie is difficult when you get to this level of the competition,” Bruneau added. “France and the Russian Tennis Federation are going to be good challenges but we’re up for it. I know the girls are going to give everything they’ve got and even if on paper we are lesser ranked, everything is possible.”
Rebecca Marino is the highest-ranked Canadian singles player heading into the tournament and has enjoyed a successful season so far, including outings in two Grand Slam main draws and a round of 16 appearance at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. The 30-year-old is relishing the opportunity to represent her country once again in Billie Jean King Cup action.
“It’s always an honor to play for Canada, it’s something I’m always really proud of,” She said. “It’s great to be here, I’m really proud of the girls here with me and the team that got us here in this position. So, we’re going to take advantage of that and play our hearts out on the court.”
Likewise, Bruneau – who is filling in for Heidi El Tabakh as captain for the Finals – expressed his pride at being part of the group that’s representing Canada at the highest level of the sport.
“I have always enjoyed team competition and representing our country,” he added. “I think this I the biggest privilege and honor so it’s just for this one time but I appreciate it as always. This is a special event as well because we’ve never been in these surroundings with the top countries at the end of the year.”