2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals: Danielle Collins coming 'full circle' in Glasgow
GLASGOW, Scotland -- For Danielle Collins, Billie Jean King Cup is all about the vibes. The unique atmosphere found in the team competition is what keeps the 28-year-old former NCAA champion coming back—and winning—for the U.S. again and again.
Collins extended her unbeaten streak in Billie Jean King Cup singles matches to five on Wednesday night in Glasgow thanks to a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) win over Magdalena Frech—an integral result in the U.S team’s eventual 2-1 round-robin victory over Poland that began its week at the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals.
The seeds for Collins’ love for team tennis were planted a decade ago in her college days, but they’ve bloomed fully in her Billie Jean King Cup career. She directly correlates the success she’s had when wearing U.S. colors to the on-court thrill and off-court camaraderie of these weeks in-between WTA tournaments.
"My first experience playing [Billie Jean King] Cup, we were in the finals in Prague [in 2018] and I didn't play, but I was on the bench and I was cheering," Collins said. "I took a lot of pride in that and it brought a lot of joy for me. That's one of the things about being on a team is so special, and especially with this group. We have such a strong group. Everybody can play. Everybody has a chance of winning.
“You go out with full confidence knowing that your teammates are so strong and can get the job done, so you just try to do the best that you can as a teammate to lift everybody up.”
Facing a stern test from 116th-ranked Frech—positioned 102 spots below Collins in the WTA rankings—and frustrated with inconsistency in her own play over more than two hours on court, Collins got that lift with support from a U.S. bench that she has great fondness for. She says she’s known captain Kathy Rinaldi “almost her whole life,” and her history with Glasgow teammates Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend dates back to their youth and teens, respectively.
“We just have such a nice group,” Collins said. “Honestly, we have so much fun together. Practices have been really laid back. Madi and I were playing points the other day, and I couldn't figure out if a ball was in or out, and then she hit a drop shot, and I was like laughing in the middle of the point. I'm like, I never would do that probably the rest of the year, but because I'm with my friends and people I have known for so long, it just makes it so much more enjoyable.
“These weeks are really special for me coming from college tennis, because I had so many great memories playing on a team and and now being able to create new memories with a lot of the girls that I've known for so long … It's just it's so surreal being out here and being with people that I've known forever. This is really a special week for all of us.”
Part of that is thanks to Rinaldi, whom Collins calls "one of the most fun people to be around," and the overall experience she's created for her teams at each tie over her five years as captain.
She keeps things light off the court as she and her teams pursue championships on it.
"We always try to do some fun things,” Rinaldi said, telling reporters before the event started that she brought a karaoke [machine] to Glasgow. "We always try to do something as a team, but just being together usually brings out a lot of fun in us.”
That doesn't mean the U.S. doesn't have its eyes on the prize: With one win in the books, the U.S. now looks ahead to a crucial match with the Czech Republic on Friday. The winner of the final Group D round-robin tie will advance to the semifinals.
“It's going to be a great challenge,” Rinaldi said. “I’ve got competitors on this team, and I'm certainly a competitor, too. We're really going to be looking forward to it. Couldn't ask for a better team and teammates, and I think everybody is super excited for that matchup.
“We know it's going to be tough, but they're all tough when it comes to Billie Jean King Cup, and we'll take it one match at a time and give it our best.”
Tennis Channel is providing complete live coverage of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for its duration from Nov. 8-13. The U.S. tie vs. the Czech Republic will air on Friday, Nov. 11, not before 4:30 p.m. ET.
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