Brisbane, 11 April 2024 | Dan Imhoff

Sam Stosur’s first tough calls as Australia’s new captain have been made for the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier against Mexico.

Player nominations were announced on Thursday and following a week in camp, the focus shifted to her charges and their job at hand – although not before they were tasked with delivering an early report card.

Four of the Australian cohort – Daria Saville, Storm Hunter, Arina Rodionova and Ellen Perez –played alongside Stosur, while Taylah Preston was an Orange Girl on the team’s run to the 2022 final.

“It does definitely feel different here in this role compared to playing, but I hope I’ve been doing what the girls need,” Stosur said. “Obviously it’s not something I’m taking lightly. I’m taking it very seriously, trying to make sure we’ve got everything covered.”

> READ: Stosur up to challenge in switch from teammate to chief selector

Here are the players’ early assessments:

Ellen Perez: “Sam keeps things light. She’s got good banter, knows how to take a joke. I like to make a lot of jokes – a lot at her expense – but no, the practices have been fun, her experience, she’s such a great role model. Being able to play under Sam is a really cool experience now… She’s been around the past few years in a leadership role anyway. Even when she was playing she was doing much the same as she is now so for me. It’s not too much different.”

Storm Hunter: “Sam has been great and like Ellen said, even when she was a member of this team and on tour, she was always a role model for us and a leader even if she didn’t realise she was. We always all looked up to her… We’re very lucky and grateful to have Sammy.”

Daria Saville: “I think Sam has been my mentor for a few years even when we were travelling on tour… I think Sam has given me so much advice. I feel like our dynamic is still the same. Everyone in the team hasn’t changed, except for Sam, so I think it’s exciting for all of us and hopefully we can make you proud.”

Arina Rodionova: “Sam was there for us regardless if she was the captain, teammate or just a friend on tour. She’s always there to help out if needed, give advice or anything else. I feel like all of us are happy to go to Sam with our questions and ask for help if needed throughout the year.”

Taylah Preston: “I don’t really have anything to compare to, but even when I was Orange Girl in Glasgow and Sam was on the team she was just super open for any questions or advice, so it’s sort of the same now if I have a question during training or if she sees anything. It’s always open conversation for her to say or me to ask.”

The two-day Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Qualifier tie, which sees Australia take on Mexico, begins on Friday 12 April.

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster, with adult prices starting at $20, concessions from $16, kids from $5 and family passes (two adults and two children) starting at $45.

> BUY NOW: Billie Jean King Cup tickets

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