Pegula, Navarro give USA 2-0 lead against Belgium in Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier

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Jessica Pegula and Emma Navarro secured Lindsay Davenport’s unbeaten start as Billie Jean King Cup captain with thrilling come-from-behind victories in Friday’s Qualifier against Belgium.

Lindsay Davenport celebrates with Emma Navarro
Credit: Mike Lawrence / USTA

Facing off against their determined Belgian counterparts, both Pegula and Navarro battled back from a set down, giving the U.S. team a commanding 2-0 lead at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida, setting the stage for a decisive Saturday.

“Couldn’t be more proud of my two ladies up here tonight,” said team captain Davenport. “We knew the Belgians were going to be tough. We weren’t worried about rankings or ages or anything.”

Pegula, currently ranked world No.5, overcame a spirited challenge from 19-year-old Sofia Costoulas, once a world junior No.2 and now ranked No.279 in the WTA rankings. The American triumphed 4-6 6-2 6-3 in Friday night’s opening singles match.

Navarro, making her Billie Jean King Cup debut, displayed remarkable composure to defeat Hanne Vandewinkel, also 19 years old and ranked No.278, after being down a set and 2-4, points to go down 3-5 in the second. Navarro fought back to claim victory with a score of 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Interestingly, during the match the 22-year-old American had her first ever injury timeout. “I’m always willing to make it ugly and get scrappy,” Navarro said after her hard-fought win. “It’s great when you’re playing well and things look pretty and they feel pretty, but I think it’s nights like these that really count.”

Looking ahead to Saturday, Pegula is set to face Vandewinkel in the opening match at 2 p.m., followed by Navarro taking on Costoulas. Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend will then team up for the U.S. in the doubles match against Marie Benoit and Kimberley Zimmermann, after the conclusion of the singles matches.

The team that wins three matches over the weekend will secure victory and earn a spot in the 12-nation Billie Jean King Cup Finals, scheduled to take place in November in Seville, Spain. The schedule for Saturday may be adjusted if one team secures victory in the third or fourth match of the weekend.

Saturday Match Schedule
USTA National Campus; Lake Nona, Fla.
TV: Tennis Channel

Saturday (beginning at 2 p.m. ET)
Jessica Pegula (USA) v. Hanne Vandewinkel (BEL)
Emma Navarro (USA) v. Sofia Costoulas (BEL)
Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend (USA) v. Marie Benoit and Kimberley Zimmermann (BEL)


  1. Jim, she’s just posted some photos from her home in Belgium. Here’s information from a Belgian news source: Hasselt captain Wim Fissette cannot count on his three best players for the match against the United States: Elise Mertens (WTA 30), Greet Minnen (WTA 70) and Yanina Wickmayer (WTA 89). Fissette could understand the absence of the last two. He understands less well that Mertens is not there.

    “It is a pity. But due to the calendar and the choice of hard court as a surface in Orlando, while the clay season has started, the players have made different choices compared to previous years,” Fissette explained. “Then the Belgian team was more of a priority. I think it’s different for Elise. The team is not a priority for her. As a result, she cannot play in the Olympic Games. It’s her choice, but it’s hard to understand. As captain you always want your best players. A top player like Elise also gives the other players, such as Greet and Yanina, the motivation to go far in this competition. That was the goal when I became captain early last year. It’s a disappointment, but there’s nothing I can do to change her decision.”


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