The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced the Aegon GB Davis Cup team ahead of the final at the the end of November, naming the Murray brothers, Davis Cup stalwart Ward and doubles specialist Inglot, alongside up coming Edmund.
Team Captain, Leon Smith said: “Our GB Davis Cup team is proud to be competing in the Final in Ghent this year. It is an historic moment in British Tennis and I’m delighted to name these five players for the tie against Belgium. Andy has led from the front throughout this campaign, showing time and again what it means to him to pull on the GB jersey. He shows determination, commitment and passion that inspires the other British players on the bench and our fantastic fans in the stands.
“The team has had some incredible results this year, and we know that off the back of defeating the three other Grand Slam nations we carry great momentum going into the final, however we will not underestimate the challenge in front of us. The Belgian team is full of top 100 talent and they will push us all the way.”
There is no secret that Andy Murray’s commitment to the singles in the last couple of years have been instrumental in keeping the British Team in the World Group, but it was important to recognise stalwart and new talent in the side, since Smith took on the role as Team Captain in April 2010 for the Europe/Africa Zone Group II tie against Turkey in Eastbourne.
He went on to praise the current side, who have seen some outstanding results against top nations, including their win against the USA both away last year and at home in Glasgow as pivotal parts of their journey.
He said: “While our team will be spearheaded by Andy, the other guys give us strong options in both the singles and the doubles positions. Jamie is having an outstanding year and is firmly established as a top 10 world ranked doubles player. He has played a key part in our ties this year with vital wins against both France and Australia partnering Andy.
“Dom is playing some of the best tennis of his career having reached the semi-finals of the US Open and recently the semi-finals of the Paris Masters Series. He played an outstanding Davis Cup match earlier in the year with Jamie against the Bryan brothers, narrowly losing the fifth set. In James Ward, we have a player who really gets the Davis Cup and has had several big wins over the last few years against top 100 players in this competition. Kyle Edmund has had a very good year on the tour, breaking top 100 for the first time and qualifying at both Australian and French Open.”
Smith concluded by praising the fans, many of whom have supported the side for many years.
“The support from our fans has been unbelievable. There is no other word for it. For those making the trip to Belgium it will be more important than ever that they make as much noise as possible and get behind the team”
British No. 1 Andy Murray, who faces Rafael Nadal on Wednesday in the second round-robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals spoke of the unique experience awaiting him and the rest of the team, as they bid to lift the Davis Cup title for the first time in 79 years.
He said: “To represent your country at the Davis Cup Final is a huge honour and will be a new experience for me and all of the team. I’m really excited about the tie in Belgium, they have some very talented players who will make this a tough contest. We have had amazing support from our fans in the previous ties and I know the ones travelling for the final will play their part.”
James Ward has been a stalwart of the team under Smith’s leadership, and after a poor summer, has picked up some form winning the Bengaluru Challenger title in India in October, and finds himself vying for the British No. 2 singles slot with Kyle Edmund, who won the Copa Fila Challenger in Argentina on clay last week, and is playing in Montevideo this week.
Ward said: “It is a very special feeling and a fantastic honour to be chosen to represent your country. To reach the final of the Davis Cup is an incredible achievement for the team especially when you look at where we were playing just a couple of years ago. The 2015 Davis Cup has already given me some of the highlights of my tennis career, and I’m sure the final will be up there too.”
The team nominations are:
Belgium: David Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans, Kimmer Coppejans (Captain: Johan van Herck)
GB: Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot (Captain: Leon Smith).
Both nations can make up to two nomination changes up until one hour before the draw, which will take place on Thursday 26 November at 2pm (1pm GMT).
Great Britain are bidding to lift the title for the first time since 1936, when they beat Australia to win, coming down to a decisive final rubber. Their current sponsors Aegon believe that this is the team to do it again.
Tara McGregor-Woodhams, Head of Brand, Sponsorship and Digital Marketing Aegon UK, added, “The Aegon GB Davis Cup Team has shown time and time again that they can rise to the challenge and we’re sure they’ll do so again in Belgium. It’s been an honour to support them through the ties and now the excitement is building towards what will be a historic final for the Team.”
In related news the LTA reported its disappointment by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to postpone its hearing of British No. 2 Aljaz Bedene to be allowed to compete for Great Britain.
In a statement on their website, they said: “We feel it is important to state that we have complied with the process set forth to us and are working hard to achieve a positive outcome.
“It is in everyone’s best interests given how long this process has been ongoing, that a fair hearing does place as soon as possible, ideally before the first round of Davis Cup in March 2016. That has to be the number one priority going forward. We continue to fully support Aljaz in his bid for a successful appeal.”
The ITF said, in its own statement: “The International Tennis Federation announced today that the application by the Lawn Tennis Association of Great Britain for the granting of eligibility for Aljaz Bedene to play Davis Cup by BNP Paribas was adjourned until the next ITF Board of Directors to be held on 20-21 March 2016.
“The ITF has taken this decision in order to ensure that the rights of all parties are considered. As the application has yet to be decided, the ITF will not provide any further comment on the case.”
Disappointed that the hearing with the ITF was postponed, I will keep my head held high.
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