Tennis / Fed Cup: Israel Hoping for a Home Draw at Last

Israel, ranked 12th in the world, to face either Austria, Japan, Belgium or Spain for a spot in World Group I of the Fed Cup.

After completing a 3-2 win over Canada overnight Sunday, Israel will today learn the identity of its playoff opponent for a spot in World Group I of the Fed Cup when the draw takes place in London.

Israel, ranked 12th in the world, will face one of the four seeded nations announced for the playoffs Monday - Austria, Japan, Belgium or Spain. As it has never faced either of the nations in Fed Cup competition, the location of the playoff tie - to be played July 14-15 - will be determined by the draw.

The Israeli team, which returned yesterday from Canada, said it hoped to host the playoff tie at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center.

"Over the last ten years we have played in three Fed Cup playoffs and all of them have been away from home. And when we were finally drawn at home, Indonesia refused to play here," said Tzipi Obziler, who celebrated her 34th birthday during the tie against Canada. "It's about time we played here in front of our friends and family and the Israeli fans."

With the tie out of reach, Obziler gave 17-year-old Yulia Glushko the chance to make her Fed Cup debut against Canadian veteran Marie-Eve Pelletier, who secured the first point for her squad with a 6-1, 6-1 straight sets victory.

Pelletier joined forces with Stephanie Dubois for the fifth rubber of the tie against Peer and Obziler, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to cap the tie.

Of Israel's possible opponents in the playoff for a spot among the top eight nations, Austria, with world No. 25 Sybille Bammer and up-and-coming starlet Tamira Paszek, is considered the toughest.

Belgium without Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters is no longer the force it used to be, and with Kirsten Flipkens and Caroline Maes, it was hammered 5-0 by the U.S. in its World Group I tie.

Japan, whitewashed 5-0 by France, features world No. 27 Ai Sugiyama and 54th ranked Akiko Morigami.

Spain, coming off the back of a 5-0 drubbing by Russia, is represented by world No. 29 Annabel Medina Garrigues and 67th ranked Lourdes Dominguez-Lino.