Aiava excited for Fed Cup debut
16-year-old Destanee Aiava from Melbourne set for a Fed Cup debut.
Destanee Aiava is brimming with excitement ahead of her Fed Cup debut this weekend.
Aiava will become the youngest debutant in the Australian team since team-mate Ash Barty in 2013, and according to captain Alicia Molik is deserving of her spot.
“Destanee is the form player in terms of match wins. She’s won the most in the last few weeks out of anyone in our team,” Molik said.
The 16-year-old Melbourne talent has built a 16-3 win-loss record on the Australian Pro Tour since becoming the first 2000s-born player to contest a Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open in January.
Her impressive run has included winning her first two professional singles titles.
Aiava was meant to travel with the Australian team to the Ukraine in February as an orange girl, but missed the tie with illness.
“I’m so excited to get another chance and this is my first time being in the team, so it’s very special,” Aiava said.
Aiava, who is coached by her mother, is also making her first overseas trip without her parents.
Her promotion to the Australian Fed Cup team is another highlight in what is proving to be a breakthrough season for Aiava.
She has slashed her ranking from No.386 at the start of January to now sit at a career-best No.191, and is one of only two 16-year-olds currently in the world’s top 300.
The big-hitting Aiava made headlines early in the season when she qualified for her first WTA tournament at the Brisbane International.
She then won her first round match against experienced American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to win a WTA main draw match. Her reward was a first meeting with a top 10 opponent, where she impressively tested two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
A Grand Slam debut followed, having earned a wildcard by winning the 18 and under Australian Championships in December.
Aiava believes such experiences have helped her make big improvements to her game, noting a more mature on-court mentality as a key to her recent results.
“On the court I’m not getting so stressed out,” she said. “I’m staying composed throughout whole matches now and staying focused on what is more important and not getting as distracted.
“I’m feeling really confident at the moment and just want to keep improving. I hope to be in the top 100 by the end of this year.”
Australia meets Serbia in a must-win Fed Cup Play-off this weekend, aiming to retain a World Group II place for 2018. The tie is played on an indoor hard court in the Serbian city of Zrenjanin.
The tie will be broadcast on 7TWO, starting from 10.30pm AEST on Saturday 22 April and Sunday 23 April.
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