Great Britain’s Fed Cup team begin their 2017 campaign on Wednesday and new captain Anne Keothavong sees no reason why they cannot emulate the exploits of the nation’s Davis Cup stars.
The Fed Cup team have spent the last 24 years trying to get out of the dreaded Europe/Africa Zone, but former player Keothavong believes this could be their time as the team prepare for a tough week of action in Tallinn, Estonia.
The fixtures are played in a round-robin format during a single week every February, where GB will need to win three or four matches to earn a crack at April’s World Group II play-offs.
Judy Murray resigned as captain last year immensely frustrated at Britain’s failure to progress, and now it is Keothavong’s turn.
The 33-year-old, who played in 39 ties for Britain between 2001 and 2013, said: “The format doesn’t lend itself to anything but it is what it is and we have to accept that.
“We’ll be one of 14 teams in Tallinn and only two will come out. In the past 15 years or so we’ve only managed to do that twice so that tells you how tough it’s been.
“But there’s no reason why we can’t get out of this group again and aim for a tie in April and have something to look forward to.”
Britain have been drawn in a group with Turkey, Latvia and Portugal, who between them boast only two top-100 players. They open against the Portuguese on Wednesday and must top the group to reach Saturday’s next stage.
Keothavong, meanwhile, has the luxury Murray never had of being able to call on Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Laura Robson at the same time.
And Keothavong believes the popularity of those three players can help them generate similar interest to the Davis Cup.
“For sure,” she said. “We’ve got great personalities in the team. I think each of them individually appeal to different people. For the first time ever we’ve got a top-10 player so that in itself gives the team a different feel.
“We all know what she’s capable of but Laura and Heather have also had big wins and they’re still very young. Hopefully Jo’s success and the way she goes about it will inspire the other girls. They can definitely learn a lot from her.
“There’s only eight teams in the Fed Cup World Group whereas Davis Cup has 16 so, with the format, it will take us a few years to get there, should we get there. But we can certainly put women’s tennis on the map in this country.”