While Storm Hunter maintains a perfect record at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Final, Australia is out of contention for overall victory this year.
Australia have been knocked out of the Billie Jean King Cup and will say farewell to captain Alicia Molik despite one final, stirring rescue operation by the indefatigable Storm Hunter.
Molik’s final act after a distinguished decade of leadership was to hear from the number crunchers and learn that Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan – courtesy of two more Hunter wins – was, mathematically, not quite enough to keep their hopes alive.
No-one felt more emotional than unbeaten Hunter, after her heroic jetlag-busting efforts with three wins since she made the transatlantic dash from Mexico as the newly-minted world No.1 doubles player to lead the side.
Still believing at that point there might still be a slim chance of qualification, Hunter said: “It’s just been a pleasure playing under Mol’ if this is her last tie. I’m going to get emotional now… ”
Molik, by her side, comforted her, saying: “You don’t need to, Stormy, champion. It’s been amazing.”
Welling up, Hunter continued: “Yeah, just wanted to make her proud and everyone else on the team proud.”
To which there was only one answer. “You do. You do. All the time,” Molik assured her.
She was right. Hunter is a star, her heroics only mirroring her remarkable performance when leading the team to the final in Glasgow last year.
First, she beat Anna Danilina 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the singles and then teamed up with Ellen Perez to deliver the crucial 6-1 4-6 [10-5] win over Danilina and Yulia Putintseva in the decisive doubles.
Molik had overhauled her singles line-up to promote world No.155 Hunter and the country’s No.1 Kim Birrell after veteran campaigners Daria Saville and Ajla Tomljanovic suffered straight-set defeats in Australia’s opening-day 2-1 loss to Slovenia.
Yet the move proved only partially successful when Birrell couldn’t overcome a woefully nervy first set, in which she served five double faults, en route to losing to battle-hardened Putintseva 6-0 7-5.
For Molik, who completed her final Billie Jean King Cup assignment in Seville, there were nevertheless many positives to take from her 10-year reign as captain…