Ecuador will be a learning curve for Fed Cup team’
Ashley Brooks and Kirsten Saltus will be the senior pair in the Bermuda team which heads to Ecuador on Saturday for the Fed Cup starting next Tuesday.
The team, coached by veteran player Jovan Jordan-Whitter, also includes teenagers Jahcuena Bradshaw-Douglas and Shelby Madeiros.
Bermuda will face some stiff competition against the six other nations, which include the hosts, Bolivia, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Costa Rica, but Jordan-Whitter is confident the team will be competitive.
“Ecuador and Bolivia will be the favourites, they have touring pros who pay their bills by competing on the tennis tour,” Jordan-Whitter said.
“We don’t have any of those but what we do have is a good blend of youth and experience.
“Our youngest player [Madeiros] is 15 years old, the second youngest [Bradshaw-Douglas] is 19, so half of the team is made up of teenagers.
“They’ve been working very hard and effort is not in question with this team. I’m looking at this as a developmental year for our younger players. I think we’ve got a good shot at doing some things that have never been done before. We’re going to go down there and compete, I’m excited at how hard these girls have been working.
“We’re training twice a day, every day, we’re putting in the effort and I expect us to go down there and give everybody a run for their money. We don’t have touring pros but we have girls who are hungry.”
Madeiros will be heading to the renowned IMG Tennis Academy in Florida in September, while Bradshaw-Douglas is off to college in the autumn. Saltus, 24, will be entering her senior year at Catawba College in North Carolina, while Brooks, 30, is a local professional at Rosewood Bermuda in Tucker’s Point.
“I’m very encouraged with the way our older players are leading our younger players, showing them how it is done,” Jordan-Whitter said.
“Ashley is very seasoned as far as international play is concerned, she has been Bermuda’s No 1 for about the past ten years. Shelby will be attending the IMG Academy so her future is looking very bright.
“She’ll likely be playing a lot of singles down there so there will be a lot of pressure on a youngster of that age in her first senior international tournament.
“Kirsten is going into her senior year at a Division II school and has a good bit of experience on the international scene, having played Fed Cup before.”
The team will use their first couple of days in Ecuador to adjust to what Jordan-Whitter expects will be tough conditions.
“It’s on the equator so it is going to be hot and played on a very slow surface which means fitness will be a factor,” he said. “It’s going to take us some time to get used to the surface.”