Facts about the event:
Date: Friday, Oct. 1
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Location: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Sports City, near Riyadh
Competition: Sectional tournament for countries hoping to make the 2019 Fed Cup
Style of play: March-like abbreviated matches with singles matches followed by doubles matches (3 sets)
Events are broadcast live on the Saudi Arabia Fed Cup website and this year they also broadcast four live, full on-court interviews with each player. Instead of being win the most highly ranked player in the world, hoping to have her playing well, and compete against that country’s No. 1 or potentially even their No. 2 or 3 player, you’re playing against another country’s best player. With that kind of difference in competition levels, one does get a bit of exposure and a bit of exposure with the unfamiliar game of tennis.
At the center of all of this is No. 3 seed Minjee Lee. She’s ranked the No. 4 and No. 3 women’s player in the world this year. Lee was ranked No. 12 back in 2012 when she won three tournaments on the Japan tour. She also was on the Aussie Open Elite team that won a women’s tournament this year.
Any American should be proud of Lee’s successes. Her mother, Adrienne Lee, is an assistant tennis coach at Stanford. One possible stumbling block for American tennis in Saudi Arabia is the time difference which is 11:59 p.m. local time. A late finish could put Lee, if she doesn’t get to bed in time to watch the last match, in bed by that time. Tennis can be intense enough in the U.S. As a result, Saudi Arabia often throws all of its tennis products in a mixture of high school and club teams, some of whom play in the morning and the evening. The time difference could put even more pressure on a player.
One reason to stay optimistic is that both the Americans and the Australian winners play the Spanish a few days later. The Spanish Federation is especially big in the nation of Spain.