Home » Snubbed Aussie tennis star given second chance as Storm Hunter is cut down with cruel injury ahead of Billie Jean Cup in Brisbane

Snubbed Aussie tennis star given second chance as Storm Hunter is cut down with cruel injury ahead of Billie Jean Cup in Brisbane

Snubbed Aussie tennis star given second chance as Storm Hunter is cut down with cruel injury ahead of Billie Jean Cup in Brisbane

  • Top ranked Australian women’s player Daria Saville had been overlooked 
  • Now gets chance in the singles after Hunter’s injury in warm-up match 
  • Late shake up has tested new captain Sam Stosur on debut 

Newly minted Australian women’s tennis captain Sam Stosur has endured an eventful debut as one of her star players was cut down with a serious injury in the final training session ahead of the Billie Jean King Cup. 

Daria Saville was called in to replace Storm Hunter in Friday’s opening singles matches of the clash with Mexico in Brisbane after the left-hander suffered a ruptured right achilles tendon as the Australian team rounded out its preparation.

Hunter, who was Australia’s No.2 player, picked up the injury towards the end of a practice session against Arina Rodionova on Thursday night at Pat Rafter Arena.

She had scans on Thursday night and confirmed the bad news on Friday in a social media post.

‘I am devastated and heartbroken but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on court as soon as possible,’ she said.

‘Thank you so much everyone for the messages of support and love, I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.’

Hunter was lapping up the prospect of a starring role in the competition’s first tie in Australia since 2019, on the back of her inspiring run from qualifying to make the third round at the season’s opening grand slam at Melbourne Park in January.

On the cusp of the world’s top 100 and boasting an impressive 10-4 Cup record in singles and doubles, Hunter loomed as a key piece of the jigsaw for new captain Sam Stosur on Friday and Saturday.

Storm Hunter receives medical treatment on the court after suffering a serious injury in the lead-up to the Billie Jean King Cup

Hunter is assisted from the court as captain Sam Stosur and teammate Daria Saville look on

Hunter is assisted from the court as captain Sam Stosur and teammate Daria Saville look on

Arina Rodionova was visibly emotional after seeing her friend and teammate go down injured during their practice match

Arina Rodionova was visibly emotional after seeing her friend and teammate go down injured during their practice match

It’s a shocking blow for the Queenslander who was the face of the event in her home state. Pending scans, the injury could have longer-term impacts on her push to try to get inside the world’s top 100.

‘Storm went to take off for a ball and unfortunately has sustained a very serious injury, so she’s going to be getting an MRI tonight,’ Stosur said.

‘Obviously the tie still continues and we’ve made a decision. Dasha’s going to go in place of her to play tomorrow, but obviously we’re all rallying behind Storm and wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.’

Tennis Australia also released a statement wishing the Aussie star a speedy recovery.

‘We’re all rallying behind Storm and wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible,’ it read. 

Saville had initially been overlooked for the singles in the Billie Jean Cup but has now been drafted in to replace the injured Hunter

Saville had initially been overlooked for the singles in the Billie Jean Cup but has now been drafted in to replace the injured Hunter

Hunter's injury is a cruel blow for Australia and new captain Sam Stosur who is making her debut at the Billie Jean King Cup

Hunter’s injury is a cruel blow for Australia and new captain Sam Stosur who is making her debut at the Billie Jean King Cup

Stosur had overlooked Saville for singles action, at least until Saturday’s reverse singles rubbers, despite the 30-year-old boasting the highest ranking in the squad. 

Hunter, who ended 2023 as the No.1 doubles player in the world, will also have to be replaced in the doubles in Brisbane.

Picked for the first time since 2016, Arina Rodionova – ranked 103rd in the world – was nominated as Australia’s No.1 at Thursday’s draw, with Hunter (No.116) the hosts’ No.2 player.

Having earlier this year become the oldest woman to crack the top 100 for the first time, the 34-year-old Rodionova will face Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos in the first match on Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena on Friday.

Saville will face Marcela Zacarias following Rodionova’s opening clash against Giuliana Olmos on Friday.