SHVEDOVA EYES BILLIE JEAN KING CUP DOUBLE WITH KAZAKHSTAN'S JUNIORS

01.05.2023    Views: 684
Source: KTF press-service
Author:
Ross McLean
ITF Media

 

While images of Kazakhstan reaching the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals are still fresh in the mind, Yaroslava Shvedova is eyeing further jubilation as her nation’s juniors bid to emulate their esteemed heroines.  

As well as captaining Kazakhstan’s national women’s team, former world No. 25 and two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Shvedova also heads their Billie Jean King Cup Juniors outfit. This coming week, duty calls for Kazakhstan’s best in the 16-and-under age category.

Kazakhstan’s girls are competing in Asia/Oceania Final Qualifying from 1-6 May with a view to securing a place at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Juniors Finals, while the week after their boys will do likewise in Davis Cup Juniors.

Final Qualifying is taking place on Kazakh soil in Shymkent and should either – or both – of their teams progress, it will be the first time Kazakhstan have reached the Billie Jean King Cup Juniors or Davis Cup Juniors Finals. In short, history beckons. 

Whatever happens with regards to Kazakhstan and Billie Jean King Cup Juniors qualification, Shvedova will be a guiding light and reassuring presence, just as she was for the likes of Elena Rybakina and Yulia Putintseva earlier this month.

«I started with Kazakhstan’s Billie Jean King Cup Juniors team last year when they were looking for a captain and I was so excited to do it as it’s a platform for junior players to become members of the senior team,» Shvedova tells itftennis.com.

«It is a privilege to have the opportunity to help junior players during the early stages of their careers and when I was asked to be captain again this year, I immediately said, ‘yes’. I really believe I can help our junior players.

«One of my former Billie Jean King Cup captains, Madina Rakhim, captains Kazakhstan’s ITF World Junior Tennis [14-and-under] girls’ team, and we are both giving the next generation our experience which, in turn, motivates.

«I believe our players are charged with energy knowing that former players are behind the team and supporting them. They are excited about that and will fight on court. I believe they are proud that we are leading them.

«Only the other day they were asking to hear my stories about the Grand Slams and I was telling them about playing with Vania [King]. They were also asking about some of the top players and how they act in big matches. It was nice.»

It is interesting, however, to consider the difference in Shvedova’s captaincy style when dealing with a rising star in the 16-and-under age category compared to someone like defending Wimbledon champion Rybakina, who is currently ranked No. 7 in the world.

«With the women’s team, I am more supporting and helping them but not getting too involved as they are already developed as players and know their routines,» said Shvedova, who turns 36 in September. «I am next to them and I’m there for anything they need.

«I am more involved with the juniors: explaining, telling and teaching. I am involved in many things like when to cross the road and when to eat, warm-up, stretch, cool down and go to bed. They are still young and need these experiences and non-stop reminders.

«Ultimately, I am the same person regardless of which team I am captaining and do not change too much, although I am more of a coach, captain and mother with the juniors.»

Should Kazakhstan advance to the Finals in either Billie Jean King Cup Juniors or Davis Cup Juniors, it will continue the upward trajectory of tennis within a nation that has had plenty to celebrate of late.

Rybakina’s Wimbledon triumph leaps off the page, while Kazakhstan reaching the Davis Cup Finals for three successive years and now the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for a second time speaks volumes.

That is not forgetting Kazakhstan’s boys last year reaching the ITF World Junior Finals – the first time the nation had contested the finals of a flagship ITF team event – where they finished a hugely impressive fourth.

«It is a golden period,» added Shvedova, who revealed her greatest Billie Jean King Cup memory was winning a decisive doubles against Argentina in April 2021 – her final match for her country and one in which she was player-captain.

«Tennis is still young in Kazakhstan compared to all the big countries, those which host Grand Slams and have a big history of tennis. There are still people within Kazakhstan learning and getting to know about the sport.

«But its popularity has certainly grown, and we now have big tennis facilities in each big city. It is an exciting period and hopefully we can continue increasing the game’s popularity, particularly among junior players.»

Reaching the Billie Jean King Cup Juniors Finals, under Shvedova’s captaincy, would certainly do no harm at all to the game's reputation. 


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