Britain Faces Tough Away Draw in Argentina in Fed Cup Play-Offs

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By Martin Baccardax | February 13, 2013 9:36 PM EST

Britain will travel to Argentina in the next phase of its effort to re-join the top tier of women's tennis in Fed Cup competition.

Team GB, seeded fourth in this portion of the multi-stage competition, will face Argentina in the World Group II play-offs on 20 and 21 April, Fed Cup President Francesco Ricci Bitti said Wednesday in Paris. A top four finish in the eight nation tournament will vault Britain into World Group II - the second tier of the 97-nation competition - for next year.

Argentina is led by Florencia Molinero, currently ranked number 214 in the world, and Paula Ormaechea, currently ranked number 195.  Britain, which hasn't hosted a Fed Cup tie in more than 20 years, last played Argentina in 1980 on an outdoor clay court in Berlin and with a team led by Sue Barker and Virginia Wade.

"Argentina away on clay will be a tough challenge for us but we have a strong squad and a huge opportunity to grab a place in the World Group," said Team GB captain Judy Murray. "Vamos!" 

Rounding out the World Group play-off draw were match-ups between Canada and the Ukraine, France and Kazakhstan and an intriguing tie between Belgium and Poland that could pit the rapidly improving Yanina Wickmayer against Polish number one Agnieszka Radwansaka.

The long march back to the elite level of women's tennis - the World Group itself - will be led by Britain's rising young stars: nineteen year old Laura Robson and twenty year old Heather Watson, both ranked inside the WTA top 50 but both prone to erratic results.  

Each will need to find more consistency in their singles play, particularly against lower-ranked opponents.

While Robson was impressive in Team GB's undefeated run last week in Israel, sweeping her three singles matches and going 2-1 in doubles parings with Watson, she limped to an early, and disappointing, exit from the Qatar Total Open in Doha to veteran Daniela Hantuchova - despite a 30 notch edge in WTA rankings.

The squad is coached by Judy Murray and includes former British number one Anne Keothavong, Elena Baltacha and Johanna Konta.

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