Home Australia Teenager’s ‘incredible’ debut helps Australia book spot in Billie Jean King Cup final

Teenager’s ‘incredible’ debut helps Australia book spot in Billie Jean King Cup final

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Teenager's 'incredible' debut helps Australia book spot in Billie Jean King Cup final

Australia reached the final of the Billie Jean King Cup after 18-year-old Taylah Preston crushed Mexico’s Marcela Zacarias 6-1 6-1 at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.

Preston’s victory on Saturday afternoon gave Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the qualifying tie.

“It was very special to be able to win the heat to qualify Australia for the final,” Preston said.

“Obviously being able to use the green and gold… [is] extremely special to me, and I hope it’s not my [only] time and I can use it many more times.”

“I was a little more nervous this morning. [than at the Australian Open].

“Obviously I’m playing for something much bigger than just myself. I’m playing for my team. I’m playing for my country.”

On Friday, Australian Ariana Rodionova beat unranked Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in just over two hours, before Daria Saville defeated Zacarias 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes .

On Saturday, Zacarías, world number 564, sprained his ankle while Preston led 4-1 in the first set.

The Mexican was at the back of the field, writhing in pain after suffering the injury during a play.

It seemed like the tie was about to be resolved at that point, but Zacarías took a medical timeout and received treatment.

He showed great courage to return to the game, but it was difficult for him to stretch.

Preston, 18, showed exceptional composure on his BJK Cup debut. The world number 136 lost her first service game, but then made it six games in a row.

She chased the game and hit seven forehand and backhand winners with confidence and precision in the first set after captain Sam Stosur gave her a chance in the reverse singles.

Preston continued on his merry way in the second set to crush his brave opponent. After Zacarías held her first service game, the Australian teenager won the next six games.

“That’s how I like to play, aggressively, so even though I lost the first game I thought, ‘You know, okay, it’s just the first game, there’s still a lot to do,'” Preston said.

“It’s definitely not easy to play when you know the person on the other end is not at their best.

“I just have to concentrate on what I’m doing on my side. Obviously it sounds a little harsh, but it’s reality. We’re in a game.”

Preston has high goals for the rest of the year.

“As I start playing high-level tournaments and facing high-ranked opponents, it’s going to get a little more difficult,” he said.

“Right now this is really new for me. I’m learning a lot. It would be great to make it to the top 100.”

Stosur was delighted with Preston’s display

“What a performance… incredible for a debut,” Stosur said.

“I just told Taylah that we all support her, we all believe in you. Enjoy the moment, go out here and play the way we know you can play.”

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