Anne Keothavong the GB Fed Cup Captain talked to BBC Live about their stay in Japan for the Fed Cup and Karaoke experience. She said they were happy to receive a warm welcome from the Japanese community and have experienced nothing but love from the people.
Communication was a bit technical but Keothavong said they were given translators and also assistants to help them with whatever they needed.
“We arrived here on Monday afternoon, and the Japanese have been very respectful and helpful. We’ve been given someone to help translate and assist us with anything we need, and so far everything’s been pretty straightforward.
We flew via Hong Kong – it’s never easy going from west to east with an eight-hour time difference – and I slept like a baby the first night. I slept for 12 hours straight – the one bonus of not having my kids here! Mind you, that hasn’t happened again since.”
Keothavong further stated that the Fed Cup is not as privileged as the Davis Cup in terms of a strong team. She, however, said that this time she felt like the team was much stronger and had gotten closer than before. She was confident of producing good results.
Other than practice on the courts, the team also had time for fun activities and bonding time.
On Wednesday night we were able to get out of the hotel, which feels like you could be anywhere. We went to a teppanyaki restaurant, where the chef cooks in front of you. It was unique and allowed us to feel, albeit briefly, immersed in Japanese culture. Pretty much everybody went for Kobe steak, but when in Kobe.
One member of the team thought the beef was “too tender”. Harsh feedback. After dinner, the players got to walk around Kobe with its vibrant downtown.
It is on a smaller scale than some Japanese cities, and the girls could check out the local area and sample the atmosphere, which is something they don’t get to do too often.
Doing little things like this again allows us to make this week feel different to every other week when the girls are out on the road competing for themselves.
Most evenings after dinner we try to do something as a team. We travel with our own karaoke microphone and there’s an app we download as the girls like a good sing song.
Any genre of the song goes and everyone is encouraged to perform to the team. Indeed, as I write this the doctor is singing “boom, shake, shake, shake the room”, I kid you not. I will probably be next.
Heather’s probably got the best voice and she leads the way with the dance moves. They all seem to lose their inhibitions and that’s a reflection of how comfortable everyone is with each other. It’s light-hearted and a good team-building exercise.
Heads Up is another game we enjoy and it gets quite competitive. It’s another app, which is basically like charades. The players and I usually team up against the rest of the support staff. Obviously, the support staff never win.
Heather and Jo are both very good. Probably the leading actors and Anna Smith is a movie and song buff so she’s very good at naming things.
Gabi Taylor is learning from the senior members of the team. This is her first Fed Cup experience so it’s a real eye-opener for her and a chance to learn from the others. The girls have done a great job taking her under their wing and showing her the ropes.”
On matters concerning the game, Keothavong said, “We have prepared the best we can and, come Saturday and Sunday, it’s down to the players. The only thing I can do from the side is support and advise the best I can. It’s a 50-50 match so it will be a case of who is best on the day.”