Harriet Dart breaks down as Great Britain crash out of the Fed Cup

Harriet Dart breaks down in tears and needed team-mate support as Great Britain embarrassingly crash out of the Fed Cup to Slovakia

  • Great Britain are out of the Fed Cup after an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Slovakia
  • Harriet Dart lost the crucial game 5-7 3-6 to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
  • The 23-year-old needed to be comforted by teammates after her defeat 
  • Heather Watson had given Britain hope by beating Rebecca Sramkova 6-0 7-5

An emotional Harriet Dart had to be consoled by team-mates after failing to stop Great Britain from missing out on the bonanza of the new Fed Cup final week.

Anne Keothavong’s team lost 3-1 to Slovakia in their playoff to make the £13.8 million jamboree in April, their fate sealed by Dart’s 7-5 6-3 defeat to player of the tie Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Earlier Heather Watson had kept them in the hunt, beating an unfamiliar opponent in substitute Rebecca Sramkova after the lavishly-staffed British team failed to see the obvious possibility that she could be a late change for the home team.

Harriet Dart was deeply emotional after she couldn’t save Britain from defeat in the Fed Cup

Dart’s 5-7 3-6 loss to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova meant GB lost 3-1 to Slovakia overall

 Defeat to Slovakia means Great Britain will not feature in the Fed Cup final next week

That embarrassment apart, the result was no disgrace against a traditionally strong nation, given the non-availability of Jo Konta and GB’s continuing lack of elite players. Certainly Dart could not be blamed, and fought admirably in both her matches on a surface which she lacks experience on.

So Britain will be absent from the new 12-nation finals being played in Budapest, instead going into the hat for the relegation playoffs the same week.

As ever the British team came to an away match with an eyewatering amount of support and various media staff, paid for by the Lawn Tennis Association, but still that was not enough for them to pick up intelligence on yesterday’s opposition.

Watson admitted after her match that she had ‘absolutely zero idea’ until less than an hour before her match that there was to be a change in who she would face.

Heather Watson had kept Great Britain in the contest by beating Rebecca Sramkova 6-0 7-5

Watson had no idea she was playing opponent Smrakova (left) until minutes before the match

 Slovak number one Viktoria Kuzmova, who had been ill earlier in the week, was to pull out, and signalled that likelihood at lunchtime by, unusually, saying that she would do a press conference at 3pm.

While the media knew this the message evidently did not get through to the team, leaving Watson scrambling for information about the unheralded Sramakova.

‘Personally I found out that I was playing Rebecca today at literally five past three,’ said Watson. ‘ I remember looking at the time and going straight onto YouTube to watch videos of her.

Watson had to look up YouTube videos of her opponent who was an injury replacement 

 ‘It’s quite stressful because non stop in the morning in practice I was asking questions about how she (Kuzmova) was playing, I was talking to Harriet about where she thinks I should serve, things like that.

‘I had never played her (Sramkova) before or seen her play and she has got a pretty good ranking, it’s not easy no matter you play and they’ve got a strong team.’

It did not ultimately matter because Watson put in a much-improved performance from Friday to beat an underwhelming opponent. Yet it again raises questions about how the LTA lavishes resources on such things as elaborate social media productions when the basics are not even covered properly.

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