Tennis / Fed Cup / Israel Away From Home Again

Israel was drawn away from home once again for its Fed Cup World Group I playoff, and will face Austria on July 14-15.

Israel was drawn away from home once again for its Fed Cup World Group I playoff yesterday, and will face Austria on July 14-15.

The draw was met with disappointment by the Israeli team. But while Austria is perhaps the toughest of the four seeded nations that Israel could have drawn, the letdown was not because it was up against an insurmountable hurdle but rather because it meant being on the road once more.

"I'm not even thinking about the Austrians yet," Tzipi Obziler said. "What bothers me is that once again we didn't get home court advantage.

"In six matches over the past few years we have only been drawn at home once [and that was against Indonesia, which refused to play in Israel - R.H]. Before I retire I want to be able to play in Israel," added the veteran member of the Israeli team, who turned 34 during this weekend's victory over Canada.

Austrian No. 1 Sybille Bammer is ranked 25 in the world and, like Obziler, is a latecomer to the Top 100.

In February of this year she finally won her first and only WTA Tour title, ten years after turning pro, beating Gisela Dulko in the final of the Pattaya Open in Thailand.

The previous year she lost to Shahar Peer in the semifinals as the Israeli went on to win her first WTA trophy.

Austrian No. 2 Tamira Paszek is ranked 82 in the world. Last year she became the youngest player in history to claim a WTA trophy, when she won the Portoroz Tournament in Slovenia at the age of 15. Paszek reached the junior finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, but was beaten on both occasions.

Austria is expected to host the encounter with Israel in Dornbirn, where it beat Australia 4-1 on an indoor clay surface.

"We expect them to host the tie on clay, but then perhaps we will use our secret weapon, Anna Smashnova, who didn't play against Canada because the carpet surface there wasn't suitable for her."