Porsche Team Germany kicked off the 2018 Fed Cup tennis season by defeating Belarus in Minsk. National team coach Jens Gerlach guided the team to triumph in the exciting, fiercely contested first round match 3-2 against Belarus, last year’s runners up and season favorites.
Anna-Lena Grönefeld and Tatjana Maria won in decisive doubles in a thrilling tennis nail biter. The match stretched out over two and a half hours in the standing-room-only Chizhovka-Arena on Sunday, February 11. Grönefeld and Maria defeated Aryna Sabalenka and Lidziya Marozava 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.
“It’s why one plays tennis. For one’s country, for such matches,” asserted Anna-Lena Grönefeld. Tatjana Maria enthused, “We had a fantastic team this weekend and deserved to win.”
The season opener was as challenging as Porsche Team Germany and everyone else in the tennis world assumed it would be. The singles matches proved the point. The match was tied 2-2 after the singles. Tatjana Maria came out strong at first. But on Saturday Maria dropped her opening singles 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 against Aryna Sabalenka.
Fed Cup debutant Antonia Lottner surprised everyone, gratefully. The 21-year-old rookie impressed all in attendance by upsetting No. 1 Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 6-4.
Nonetheless, scores were all tied up to that point. Thus matters began to look even bleaker than ever because of the absence of Porsche Team Germany top players Angelique Kerber, Julia Görges and Carina Witthöft.
But then on Sunday, Porsche Team Germany turned the corner for the first time. The Team snatched the lead at last. Tatjana Maria defeated Vera Lapko 6-4, 5-7, 6-0.
Unfortunately, though, young Antonia Lottner came up short in the end, losing to Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Despite this, the win was secured.
“Playing in front of such a crowd is absolutely incredible,” Lottner emoted. “I enjoyed every minute out on court and am so happy at being given the chance to be here and making a contribution to the fantastic win.”
For the semifinals, Porsche Team Germany will face the five-time Fed Cup winners the Czech Republic on April 21 and 22 at a yet-to-be-decided venue in a virtual rematch of the 2014 final.