Great Britain’s hopes of making it to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals were dashed after a loss by Harriet Dart to France’s Caroline Garcia. Dart, who was the highest-ranked player for Britain in the absence of Emma Raducanu, lost a hard-fought match against Garcia with a score of 6-1, 6-7 (10-12), 6-1.
This defeat gave France an unassailable 3-0 lead, ensuring their spot in the 12-team Finals, while Britain will now have to contest a play-off to earn a spot in the 2024 qualifiers.
The British team, led by captain Anne Keothavong, faced a formidable challenge against a strong French team with higher rankings and previous success. Despite putting up a fight in closely contested matches, Britain lost two singles matches on Friday, featuring multiple tie-breaks and narrow margins. Dart’s loss to Alize Cornet followed by Katie Boulter’s defeat by Garcia left Britain with a difficult task to come back in the tie.
Dart, determined to keep Britain’s hopes alive, played again just 18 hours after her previous defeat. Although she showed resilience and fought back in the second set, eventually winning it in a tense tie-break, her energy levels dropped in the third set. Garcia took control and sealed the tie for France, leaving Britain to face demotion to the Group I stage of the competition if they lose the tie in November.
Last year, Britain had earned a wildcard entry to the finals after losing at the same stage, and they made it to the last four. However, this year, it seems unlikely to happen again, as the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the tournament organizers, have other viable options.
Despite the disappointment, the British team gave their best effort against a formidable opponent, showcasing the unpredictable and challenging nature of competitive sports.