Home » Hunter’s Billie Jean King Cup homecoming worth the wait

Hunter’s Billie Jean King Cup homecoming worth the wait

The spearhead of Australia’s 2022 final run, Storm Hunter leads her team’s campaign against Mexico in her first home tie at Brisbane.

Brisbane, 10 April 2024 | Dan Imhoff

Banners with Storm Hunter’s image emblazoned front and centre surround the Queensland Tennis Centre ahead of Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier tie against Mexico.

It is a sight the Rockhampton-born and raised 29-year-old never imagined.

A decade ago, the then promising teenager was part of the team cheering on courtside as her compatriots fell to Germany in the semifinals on Pat Rafter Arena.

Injuries and subsequent form struggles prior to the Billie Jean King Cup’s shift to a centralised finals format abroad have denied Hunter a chance to don the green and gold at home since.

That all changes this weekend when she contests her long-awaited first tie on Australian soil.

“Definitely yesterday I was walking around, we hit outside as well and there’s a lot of posters, photos and big head shots. It’s pretty crazy, it’s pretty surreal,” Hunter said.

“I never thought I’d be in this position. I feel very lucky and grateful… For me it’s the first time playing a home tie for BJK Cup so definitely a few nerves as well but very excited.”

> READ: Rodionova relishes return to Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup team

Last November, the left-hander became just the third Australian woman to climb to world No.1 in doubles after Rennae Stubbs and team captain Sam Stosur.

Alongside new doubles partner Katerina Siniakova this season, the pair reached semifinals at the Australian Open and San Diego either side of their first trophy together at Dubai.

They also reached their biggest final last month at Indian Wells where they succumbed to this year’s champions from Melbourne Park, Hsieh Su-wei and Elise Mertens.

While Grand Slam doubles silverware remains well within reach to add to her 2022 US Open mixed doubles triumph with John Peers, Hunter held no doubts of a positive correlation between that success and her recent singles showings.

She has arrived in Brisbane as the world No.116 in singles following a breakout run to a Grand Slam third round as a qualifier at the Australian Open before a runner-up finish at a WTA 125 event at Mumbai.

Next step is cracking the top 100.

“I feel really happy with where my game’s at. I’m feeling really fit, really healthy, confident in my tennis,” Hunter said.

“I’m getting closer, not there yet. It’s still a big jump from where I am now to top 100, but to sit at career-high ranking at 29 years old is really cool.

“I think it’s a really positive thing. I can see I’m going to crack the top 100 this year and it’s just a matter of when. I’m not putting any pressure on myself or timeline.

“I’ve been waiting my whole tennis career for it to happen. For me I have no doubt that it’s going to happen. I just need to keep working, keep trying to stay healthy on the court and enjoy competing.”

> READ: Luke and Daria Saville redefining “couple goals”

From nine ties played since 2021, Hunter has compiled a 6-2 singles win-loss record and 4-2 in doubles, the star of her nation’s run to the final in 2022.

The obvious frontrunner to fill a spot in a live doubles rubber, Hunter again presents a strong case for a singles call-up.

“I don’t know, we’ll see. Sam is captain, we’ll make that call,” she said. “I think everyone this week is going to be practising as hard as they can and anyone on our team can play the singles or doubles, so we’ll be preparing for everything.”

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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