Canadian captain Heidi El Tabakh will go with the hot hand at this weekend’s Fed Cup World Group II first-round tie in the Netherlands.
She has selected rising star Bianca Andreescu to play two singles matches and the doubles match with Gabriela Dabrowski in the best-of-five tie. Françoise Abanda was tabbed to play the other singles matches indoors on red clay at the Maaspoort Sports & Events facility.
The 18-year-old Andreescu has surged up the world rankings after a remarkable opening month on the WTA Tour this season.
“She has an all-around game, really,” El Tabakh said. “The girl can do it all.”
Andreescu, from Mississauga, is 16-2 on the young campaign and has rocketed from No. 152 in late December to her current No. 70 position. She beat former world No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams last month and earned her first WTA Tour title at Newport Beach.
Abanda, from Montreal, is ranked 223rd in the world while Dabrowski, from Ottawa, is 10th in the doubles rankings. Andreescu is ranked 527th in doubles.
Dutch captain Paul Haarhuis nominated Arantxa Rus (No. 129) and Richel Hogenkamp (No. 150) for singles on Friday, with Bibiane Schoofs and Demi Schuurs handling doubles duty. Schuurs is ranked seventh in doubles while Schoofs is at No. 141.
The Netherlands holds the 10th position in the Fed Cup rankings, seven spots ahead of Canada.
“I’m very confident in my team,” El Tabakh said from ’s-Hertogenbosch after a recent team practice. “I think we have a pretty great chance. We’re going to go out there and fight hard. We are technically the underdogs, which takes a little bit of pressure off of us I think. But I’m very confident that we can do this.”
Each side is missing a prominent player.
For the Dutch squad, eighth-ranked Kiki Bertens is skipping the tie while 80th-ranked Eugenie Bouchard is out for Canada. Both players are focusing on their WTA Tour efforts instead.
Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino, the world No. 209 in singles, is also on the Canadian roster. She made a comeback last season after taking a five-year break from the sport.
Andreescu, who’s competing in her eighth Fed Cup tie, holds an 8-3 record in the competition. She helped secure Canada’s win over Ukraine last April by winning the decisive doubles rubber with Dabrowski.
Abanda, 22, has a 5-5 Fed Cup record over five ties while Dabrowski, 26, owns a 6-8 mark over 11 previous ties. Dabrowski won the French Open mixed doubles title in 2017 and took the Australian Open mixed doubles crown last year.
“I know the Dutch team is pretty strong but we have great players and great athletes,” said El Tabakh, who spent 14 years as a pro before retiring in 2016. “I’m very confident in their level of play and their ability to compete and come on top.”
Opening singles matches are set for Saturday. Reverse singles go Sunday ahead of the doubles match.
The winning team will advance to the World Group I playoffs. The loser will have to compete in a World Group II playoff tie to maintain its place in the World Group II for 2020.
Canada and the Netherlands have split six previous Fed Cup meetings.