Led by retiring team captain Alicia Molik, there’s both passion and purpose as Australia launches its 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals campaign against Slovenia.
There’s already much to celebrate in a week of highs for Australian women’s tennis.
In the latest release of the WTA rankings, Storm Hunter sits proudly at doubles world No.1 after a career-best season alongside Belgian partner Elise Mertens.
Fellow Australian Ellen Perez, meanwhile, punctuated her career-best season with a runner-up performance in doubles at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico.
Yet another high beckons at this week’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals at Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville, Spain.
Led by Alicia Molik in her final assignment as the nation’s Billie Jean King Cup Captain, Australia aims to improve on last year’s runner-up performance to Switzerland.
“We’re ready to go,” Molik told tennis.com.au of the Australian team, which includes Kimberly Birrell, Daria Saville, Ajla Tomljanovic, Hunter and Perez, with Olivia Gadecki also travelling with the group.
“We arrived (last) Wednesday, so we’ve had enough practice time … we’ve had an incredible week.”
Indeed, there’s a strong sense of purpose and camaraderie as the second-ranked Australian team targets an eighth title in the world team competition.
There’s also confidence gained from contesting two finals (including against France in 2019) in the past three editions of the event.
“I think we always bring the best out in ourselves here at this team’s competition, because everyone loves it so much,” said Molik.
“We’ve punched above our weight for many years. I feel like this one’s no different.”
Spirits are far from diminished by recent injury interruptions for several team members.
“I don’t think you can look at our interrupted year of athletes and think our chances aren’t as good – I think they’re as strong,” Molik pointed out.
“I say that because also the format – the two singles and the one doubles. I think we have the best doubles team here in Ellen and Storm. And I just have a real sense of belief in the top tennis that Dasha and Ajla and Kim can play at their best.”
“And you know, personally I felt (after reaching) a couple of finals I want to go one better. It’s so hard of course losing in the final, but…