Kaia Kanepi to miss Billie Jean King Cup

Kaia Kanepi.
Kaia Kanepi. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While Anett Kontaveit is set to return to competitive tennis at next month's Billie Jean King Cup tournament in Portugal, Kaia Kanepi will not make the team. At the same time, an Estonian-American player is to be a new addition to the roster.

Kontaveit has been battling with a back injury which has kept her out of competitions since early on this year, but she is due to take part in Portugal, whereas Kanepi is to play in a WTA tournament instead, to protect her own points tally.

Kanepi is ranked 57th in the world, having been in the top 30 a few months ago.

Märten Tamla, Estonian women's team captain, told Delfi that: "We had discussed with Kaia that if her calendar allows it, she will compete, but if the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments go poorly for her, she needs to take part in the WTA tournament in Charleston to defend her points. Unfortunately, that's how it turned out - she lost in the opening round of both tournaments."

Kanepi lost an epic three-setter versus Camila Giorgi (Italy) in Miami last week, and had been put out of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament by Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus).

Taking the veteran player's stead at the Billie Jean King Cup is 16-year-old Laura Rahnel, ranked in 327th place in the ITF junior positions (the ITF is a feeder series to the higher-level WTA circuit-ed.).

Anett Kontaveit, who ranked as high as second in the world less than a year ago but who is now ranked 70th, will return to competition in Portugal, as things stand.

Kontaveit last played in Abu Dhabi, on February 8, and has required extensive physio and other treatment to manage a niggling injury.

Other highlights relating to the Estonian women's team is the inclusion of Estonian-American väliseestlane Ingrid Neel.

Neel has joint U.S. and Estonian citizenship – she qualifies for the latter via the right of jus sanguinis through her Estonian grandmother – though the necessary paperwork to qualify for the team took almost a year to complete, Delfi says.

Nonetheless, Neel, 24, from Oyster Bay, New York, is somewhat of a doubles specialist (the Billie Jean King Cup involves both formats), and is set to play for Estonia from April 10, Delfi adds.

In addition to Neel, Rahnel and Kontaveit, Estonia's team includes Elena Malõgina and Maileen Nuudi, both of whom usually ply their trade on the ITF circuit, and also competed in the WTA Tallinn tournament last autumn.

The draw will be made a few days before the tournament, which runs April 10-15, starts.

Russian and Belarusian players are barred from the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly the Fed Cup, this year.

The tournament in Portugal will be played on clay courts.

The WTA Credit One Charleston Open starts on Saturday.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Anders Nõmm

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