Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Cockatoo Island
We can do it - Goolagong Cawley
July 8, 2004
Aussies prepared and confident says captain
By Mark Macgugan
Optus Australian Fed Cup captain Evonne Cawley is confident her team can retain its spot in the World Group for 2005 when it takes on Thailand in a World Group Play-off at Bangkok’s Hua Mark Stadium from Saturday. Speaking from the host city during a press conference earlier today, Cawley said her team was well prepared for the clash.
"The mood is wonderful. We had a good practice session yesterday and the players have settled in really well," she explained. "The whole team is very eager to get on and do very well for Australia. On ranking, we’re the team that’s supposed to win… and I think we can. We’ve got a great team and I’m very confident in our players."
The Australian charge will be headed by 31 year-old veteran Nicole Pratt, who will enter her 16th Fed Cup tie with a 12-9 win-loss ratio (11-8 singles, 1-1 doubles). The Mackay right-hander has enjoyed a plentiful year thus far, boosting her singles ranking from 53 to 41 and claiming her first WTA title at the Indian Open in February.
Cawley expressed faith that Pratt would shoulder the burden of being the team’s top-ranked player without difficulty. "She’s a tough competitor, she’s always out there giving 100 per cent, and I know she’s going to work just as hard for Australia this time around," the team captain said.
Standing in the Australians’ path is Thai No.1 Tamarine Tanasugarn, the World No.51 and her country’s most celebrated Fed Cup representative. The 27 year-old holds national records for most Fed Cup ties played (28), most total wins (25) and most singles wins (21). She has been ranked as high as World No.19.
Pratt, who trails Tanasugarn 2-4 in head-to-head matches between the two despite narrowly winning their last encounter in San Diego, expects tough competition from her Thai rival.
"I think Tamarine’s really tough," she said. "She’s obviously the player in their team that we need to pay the most attention to. I know I’ve had really close matches with her in the past. She’s a very, very good competitor and especially playing on home soil in Thailand she’s going to be hard to beat."
Little is known to the Australians about Thailand’s other three contestants, but Australian coach Mark Woodforde is confident that his players will not take them lightly. "There’s not a whole lot to go on besides Tanasugarn, (but) the other three girls in the team are obviously formidable enough and they’ve won enough matches to elevate the Thai team to this stage, where we’re at as well," he said.
"We all know about what can happen when you’re playing at home with a lot of friends and family and the country watching, (and) Thailand know that they’re playing against an established country like us, Australia, and they’re going to be eager to try and beat us."
The Australia versus Thailand World Group Play-off gets underway in Bangkok on Saturday morning.
Australia v Thailand head-to-head records
This Saturday’s tie will be the first time Australia has met Thailand in Fed Cup competition. Individually, the players also have very limited experience against one another.
Their head-to-head records are as follows:
Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) 4 leads Nicole Pratt (AUS) 2
Samantha Stosur (AUS) 1 leads Suchanun Viratprasert (THA) 0
Christina Wheeler (AUS) 1 leads Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) 0
Lisa McShea (AUS) 1 leads Tongsalee 0
Inspiration is for amateurs
Faves: Mona Barthel / Samantha Stosur / Roberta Vinci