- Fed Cup
Infobox sports league
current_season = 2008 Fed Cup
pixels = 140px
founded = 1963
teams = 8 (World Group)
country = ITF member nations
champion = fed|Russia
Fed Cup is the premier team competition in women's
tennis, launched in 1963 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the International Tennis Federation(ITF). The competition was known as the Federation Cup until 1995.
The men's equivalent of the Fed Cup is the
The idea for the event can be traced back to 1919, when
Hazel Hotchkiss Wightmancame up with the concept for a women's team competition. When this was rejected, she instead presented a trophy in 1923 for an annual contest between the United Statesand Great Britain, who were at that time the strongest tennis-playing nations. Nell Hopman, wife of the legendary Australian Davis Cup Captain Harry Hopman, later took up Mrs Wightman's original idea.
In 1962, when a British resident of the United States,
Mary Hardwick Hare, presented a dossier proving that support for such an event was overwhelming, the ITF was persuaded that a team championship played over one week in a different venue each year was a 'good idea'. It had taken 40 years for Wightman’s idea of a women’s Davis Cupto become a reality. Finally in 1963, the ITF launched the Federation Cup to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Open to all nations and not just USA and Great Britain, the much awaited competition became a resounding success.
Played over one week in a different venue each year, the inaugural event attracted 16 countries. The competition was supported by the top players right from the start. Held at the
Queen's Club, in London, the first contest between Australia and the United States set the tone with Grand Slam champions Darlene Hard, Billie Jean King, Margaret Smith and Lesley Turner all proudly representing their country on court. The United States emerged the champion nation and has since put their mark on the competition, collecting a record 17 titles over the years.
That first Federation Cup had attracted entries from 16 teams, a respectable number considering that there was no prize money and teams had to meet their own expenses. Sponsorship would later enable this number to expand dramatically, first by the Colgate Group in 1976, and, from 1981 to 1994 by the Japanese communications and computer giant
NEC. By 1994, 73 nations competed, and the host nation of a Federation Cup week was now required to build a special tennis complex, giving rise to what became known as the Federation Cup "legacy." In addition to the kudos of showcasing the premier international women's team competition, nations viewed their involvement as providing an unprecedented opportunity for their national game to develop.
The rise in entries led to the creation of regional qualifying competitions in 1992 and, subsequently in 1995, the Federation Cup adopted a new format and shortened its name to the Fed Cup. Having seen the great success that the home-and-away format had achieved in Davis Cup, the format for the Fed Cup was changed in 1995 so that women, as well as men, could play for their country in their country. While the format has been adjusted several times since 1995, the current format, introduced in 2005, incorporates an eight Nation World Group I and eight nation World Group II playing both home-and-away over three weekends throughout the year.
While many nations enter the Fed Cup each year, only 16 countries qualify for the elite World Group and World Group II each year (eight in World Group and eight in World Group II).
They reach World Group and World Group II as follows:
(a) World Group - the four nations that win their World Group first round tie remain in the World Group for the following year. First round losers contest the World Group Play-offs against the four winning nations from World Group II to determine relegation/promotion for the following year's competition. (The four nations that win World Group Play-offs will be in the World Group the following year, while the four losers will start the following year in World Group II.)
(b) World Group II - the four nations that win their World Group II ties will compete in the World Group I Play-Offs to determine relegation/promotion for the following year, as described above. Similarly the four nations that lose their World Group II ties will face winning nations from Group I Zonal competitions, in the World Group II Play-offs, to determine relegation/promotion. (The four nations that win their World Group II Play-offs will be in World Group II the following year, while the four losers will begin the next year in Group I Zonal events.)
Once in the World Group or World Group II, four nations will be seeded in each. The decision as to which nations will be seeded is made by the Fed Cup Committee, according to the ITF Fed Cup Nations Ranking.
At the levels below the World Group and World Group II, the Fed Cup nations compete in Zonal Competition events, which are split into three zones: The Americas Zone, the Asia/Oceania Zone and the Europe/Africa Zone. In each zone there are two groups, Group I being the higher and Group II the lower, except for the Europe/Africa Zone, which also has a Group III.
Within the Group zonal regions, teams are split into pools and play against each other in a round robin format. The exact format of each Group event, and promotion and relegation between them, varies according to the number of participating teams. Please check the relevant tie pages for details of that year's competitions.
However, two teams are always promoted from Europe/Africa Group I to that year's World Group II Play-Offs, while one team each go to the World Group II Play-Offs from Americas Group I and Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.
In World Group and World Group II, and World Group and World Group II Play-Off ties, each tie is contested in a best of five matches format, and is played across two days. On the first day there are two singles matches, and then the reverse singles matches take place on the following day. The final match is a doubles.
In Zonal Groups I, II and III, ties are played over the best of three matches (two singles and a doubles).
The First Round Ties in the World Group and World Group II are played on a home and away knock-out basis, and take place over a weekend in the early part of the year.
World Group Semifinals and Final are played over on a home and away knock-out basis, and take place over a weekend in July (Semifinals) and September (Final).
Play-Off ties for World Group and World Group II will also be played on a home and away knock-out basis taking place in July.
The choice of ground for First Round, Semifinals and Play-Off ties is decided by lot or goes automatically to one of the competing nations.
As Groups I, II and III are played in a round robin format in all three zones, each event takes place at a single venue over one week. These are held in the first half of the year (to allow promotion of teams to the World Group II Play-Off ties in the second half of the year), and dates and venues are decided by the Fed Cup Committee.
Records and statistics
**All-time: 7, United States, 1976-1982
*Consecutive finals appearances
**All-time: 8, Australia, 1973-1980
*Most number of games in a tie
**All-time: 172, France 4-1 Japan, 1997 World Group first round
Denise Panagopoulou; Greece; 12 years, 360 days1
Gill Butterfield; Bermuda; 52 years, 162 days
*Most rubbers played
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Spain
*Most ties played
Anna Smashnova, Israel
*Most rubbers won
**Total: 72, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Spain
**Singles: 50, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Spain
Larisa Neiland, Soviet Union/Latvia1Players must now be aged 14 and over
Current ITF rankings
[http://www.fedcup.com/ranking/current.asp Complete rankings] as of September 15, 2008
Fed Cup structure
Detailed list of Fed Cup champions
International Tennis Federation
* [http://sportsworld4u.info Watch live Fed Cup]
* [http://www.fedcup.com Official Fed Cup website]
* [http://www.fedcupstowe.com Fed Cup in Stowe]
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