The Bahamas’ senior women’s national tennis team got off to a great start at the Billie Jean King Cup (BJKC), formerly Fed Cup, on Wednesday. Team Bahamas won their tie against Costa Rica, 2-1, amidst a rain delay stoppage for several hours at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento Fred Maduro in Panama City, Panama.
Sydney Clarke and Kerrie Cartwright played the two singles matches and both won. Sierra Donaldson and Elana Mackey played the doubles match but they lost. The matches were played on clay courts.
The Bahamas leads the Americas Group II Pool A play with a 1-0 win/loss record. Costa Rica is now second at 0-1. Uruguay will start their campaign when they play Costa Rica today.
“I was very happy that Sydney (Clarke) and I were able to get our wins,” Cartwright said. “We did not have any set plans. It was more going into the match knowing what our strengths were and what we needed to do for ourselves and then figuring out what we needed to change or what we needed to do differently throughout the match. Both of us tried to dictate with our forehands because that is where we play our most aggressive.”
Team Bahamas captain Cartwright was able to clinch a victory for The Bahamas when she won her matchup in straight sets over Ariana Rahmanparast. The Bahamas’ reigning women’s national champion won 6-3 and 6-3 despite the rain interrupting the second set with Cartwright leading 4-3.
Cartwright used her experience to take down Rahmanparast. In both sets, the score was tied at three before Cartwright pulled away in the final three games in each set.
“We were tied at three in both sets but thank God I was able to come together and get those three games. Those three games were always pretty close but I feel like I tried to be a little bit more aggressive toward the end and that helped me a lot,” Cartwright said.
It was her 20th career singles victory in the history of the tournament. She was able to convert on six out of nine break points and 37 out of a possible 70 service points. She had 28 first serve points.
Cartwright trailed for the only time in the match after the first game of the first set as the Costa Rican went up 1-0. From there, it was all Cartwright.
Clarke got The Bahamas off to a winning start when she took care of Sofia Perez, 6-0 and 6-2. The 18-year-old was brilliant in the match, winning six straight games in the first set and the final four of the second set to complete the match in straight sets. She served the match’s only ace when she went up 30-15 in the fifth game of the second set.
“Overall, it was a success for me,” Clarke said. “I went out there and played my game and I embraced the challenge. I was scared but was rather very confident. Even when I was down, I found a way to fight back and keep my head in the game. I am so excited to be able to come away with a victory. It was a very good and tough match. My opponent played really well and I am just excited to be back on the court and being able to compete.”
It was Clarke’s second singles victory in the tournament’s history. She now sports a 2-4 win/loss in singles.
“I had a great start. I did not ease up but I kept pushing and I was able to win the first set. My opponent started to play better in the second set but I had to be better. I made sure I executed well and continued adding pressure. I did not feel any pressure on my end,” said Clarke.
Clarke was able to score 22 points on her first serves and she had one ace. At one point in the match, she scored seven points in a row. Clarke added that it boosted her confidence going forward.
Mackey and Donaldson fell 6-0 and 6-1 to Rahmanparast and Perez in doubles.
The team is off today but will use it to get in a practice session before returning to action against Uruguay tomorrow at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in The Bahamas.