Hackney's Anna Keothavong continues quest to guide Great Britain as Dart also named in squad
- Credit: Getty Images for LTA
Hackney's Anne Keothavong continues her quest to guide Great Britain towards next year's Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals starting with a tricky play-off encounter with Mexico this Friday (April 16) behind closed doors at LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.
With current British number one Johanna Konta, who played a huge part in GB's brilliant World Group II play-offs triumph over Kazakhstan last April at Copper Box, Hackney, unavailable due to the world number 18 focusing her priorities towards the red clay-court season and Roland Garros, 37-year-old captain Keothavong named Hampstead's Harriet Dart, vastly-experienced Heather Watson, Katie Swan, Jodie Burrage and Katie Boulter in her squad.
This will be Arsenal-supporting Dart's fourth appearance in Billie Jean King Cup. The 24-year-old, who is currently number 148 in WTA world rankings, was on the bench during the Kazakhstan success but last played a rubber against Greece. She paired with Katie Swan in the doubles to dispatch Despina Papamichail and Maris Sakkari in an Europe/Africa Zone Group I qualifier last February in Bath.
Dart goes into this tie on very good form from last week's WTA500 Volvo Cars Open in Charleston, USA. In the qualifiers she got past American Rachel Gailis and gained sweet revenge over Grace Min from Australian Open 1st round encounter earlier in the year, before Kazakhstan's world number 32 Yulia Putintseva finally ending the North Londoner's gallant run in the last 32 with a 7-6, 6-4 defeat.
And last month she beat fellow Team GB squad member Watson on her way to reaching the last 16 of WTA500 Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico.
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Keothavong believes she has chosen a strong squad more of capable of beating the visitors.
"I’m pleased to be able to announce the squad for this tie and I’m really looking forward to everyone linking up again," she said.
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"Heather has shown great commitment to the team and the competition over the years and Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart have both shown their character in recent ties as well. Along with Katie Swan and Jodie Burrage we have a strong group of players who I’m confident can do us proud. We're looking forward to bringing our A game against a tricky Mexican side.
"We all know the LTA’s National Tennis Centre very well and we’re looking forward to a competitive tie in familiar surroundings, and hopefully we can advance to the 2022 Finals."
Mexico, captained by former ATP player Agustin Moeno and defeated Paraguay to gain promotion from Americas Group I last February, arrive at LTA headquarters with top player world number 141 Renata Zarazua, Marcela Zacarias, Giuliana Olmos, Fernanda Contreras-Gomez and younger Julia Garcia Ruiz making their line-up.
Victory on Saturday evening will earn GB a one-match home or away qualifier next February for a place in the 12-team Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
Tennis fans can follow all the action live via the LTA’s Facebook page. Opening rubber commences at 2pm time which the final Saturday session starts at 12noon.