It comes as no real surprise that Ash Barty will spearhead the Australian Fed Cup team against Belarus in their crucial semi-final tie. Captain Alicia Molik officially announced the team today, which also features a return from Sam Stosur, as well as Daria Gavrilova and rising star Priscilla Hon.
Stosur ruled herself out of consideration last year as she struggled for form and fitness. "We've selected a really strong team and it's going to be a great fight between Australia and Belarus," Molik told Tennis.com.au.
"Ash has gone from strength-to-strength, and we are extremely lucky as a nation and team to have such a fantastic role model on and off court. She is one of the world's best Fed Cup players with her versatility in singles and doubles, and a great leader and asset to the team.
"It's also exciting to welcome Sam back into the team, she has a really strong Fed Cup record and her recent doubles results are unparalleled, and Dasha and Pri are both great team players. They always enjoy Fed Cup weeks and have had some great matches since the US.
"Reaching a Fed Cup semifinal is an amazing feeling not only for me as a captain, but the team and Australia. I know they are all incredibly proud to represent their country and will give it their all as we try to make our first final since 1993”.
Barty was pivotal in Australia’s victory over USA in the World Group first round, pairing with Hon to clinch the crucial doubles rubber. Now the modest Australian has recently cracked into the world’s top ten and is riding a wave of momentum and confidence, raring to send Australia into its first Fed Cup final in nearly three decades.
Hon was also elated to be selected to represent her country again, this time in front of a home crowd. “I can't describe with words how much it means to me," she said on Wednesday. "I've trained here my whole life, I was born here [in Brisbane].
I train at this centre hours every day so being able to play here in front of a home crowd - it will sound clichéd but it's a dream come true. "I got the call from Mol (Alicia Molik) and I was so excited. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, but I had to keep it to myself for a while."