Fed Cup: Great Britain could stage home tie in 2019

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Great Britain Fed Cup team
Anne Keothavong (centre) became the captain of the British Fed Cup team in 2017

Great Britain could stage a home Fed Cup tie next year for the first time in 25 years.

BBC Sport understands the Lawn Tennis Association is applying to host February's round-robin event in the top division of the Europe/Africa zone.

The British team has played in 15 countries since the last home tie took place in Nottingham in 1993.

Bath and Loughborough universities are considered the frontrunners to host Anne Keothavong's team.

Both venues have eight indoor courts.

The annual tournament involves up to 16 teams from Europe and Africa, but next year's matches could be spread over two countries, with Britain hosting eight teams.

The lack of home ties has been a great source of frustration to captain Keothavong and her predecessor Judy Murray.

Both have witnessed first hand the huge support and excitement generated by the Davis Cup team, which in recent years has played to sell-out crowds in Glasgow, Birmingham and London's Queen's Club.

"It's still a work in progress but it would be great, it's been a dream of mine to host a Fed Cup tie at home," Keothavong told BBC Radio 5 live's Friday Sports Panel.

"As a player it was but it never happened and now as captain I'd love to bring Fed Cup to this country, to the fans. The players work really hard, they're passionate about the competition and we just want an opportunity really to show everyone what British tennis is all about."

The LTA is anxious to raise the profile of the women's game, and there are clearly benefits in staging professional events in the UK outside the traditional grass-court window - especially as the new Davis Cup format significantly reduces the opportunity to stage a home tie.

British number one Johanna Konta is more likely to commit to play a home tie, and it may also give home fans the chance to watch emerging players like Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Gabriella Taylor and Katie Swan - who are all now inside the world's top 200.

The International Tennis Federation is expected to announce the venues early next month, with the matches due to take place between 6-9 February.

Great Britain successfully negotiated a zonal event in Estonia in each of the past two years, but then lost the subsequent play-off ties in Romania and Japan.

Victory in either would have returned Britain to the elite World Group level after an absence of 25 years.

In Kobe in April, Britain were denied in dramatic style as Konta and Heather Watson were beaten in the deciding set of the decisive doubles rubber.