This rendering shows Freeman Coliseum configured for the Fed Cup women's tennis competition. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio Sports

Tennis fans in San Antonio will get to see some of the sport’s elite women players up close when the Fed Cup, the international women’s team competition, comes to San Antonio in April.

The United States Tennis Association announced Tuesday the U.S. team will compete against Switzerland in a World Group playoff at Freeman Coliseum on a temporary indoor hardcourt April 20-21. The coliseum will be configured to host 6,000 fans.

Pat Frost, president of the local organizing committee, said San Antonio has twice before secured the right to host the event, including last year. Frost said both times results in the event’s early rounds dictated it be held in the opposing country rather than in the U.S.

The event will mark the first time the Fed Cup has come to Texas. It also will be the most significant tennis played in San Antonio since Steffi Graf defeated Monica Seles in March 1991 in the U.S. Hardcourt Championships. At the time, Seles was ranked No. 1 in the world and Graf No. 2.

“It was sold out for the finals and a good crowd all week long,” Frost said.  “The tennis community really supported it, and we were half the size back then. I’m really expecting we’ll be able to fill this place up.”

Frost Bank President Pat Frost is chairman of the committee organizing the Fed Cup event. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The local organizing committee and others who support tennis in the city started working to bring the Fed Cup to San Antonio in 2010, Frost said. The U.S. has won the event 18 times in the past but lost its opening-round matchup with Australia earlier this month. Madison Keys, the world’s 17th-ranked player, and Danielle Collins, ranked No. 25, represented the U.S. in singles matches in Asheville, North Carolina.

Although the players competing for each team won’t be finalized until April 10, Frost said he believes that highly ranked players will compete in the San Antonio matches because the U.S. team will not want to fall into a lower grouping to complete this year’s Fed Cup and start next year’s competition.

Switzerland is home to four of the world’s top 120 players, including Belinda Bencic. The 21-year-old was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world two years ago and is currently No. 23.

The matches against Switzerland will be a best-of-five series played over two days with each country’s No. 1 and No. 2 nominated players squaring off. Then the reverse singles matches will be played on the second day, followed by a doubles match.

The winner of the match automatically qualifies for the prestigious World Group in the 2020 Fed Cup. The Fed Cup is the women’s equivalent to the men’s Davis Cup.

“The roster of the World Cup team over the years very well could have its own wing in the hall of fame,” said Jeffrey Ryan, senior director for team events for the USTA. “Legends of the sport Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, and Serena and Venus Williams have all competed for their country in the Fed Cup.”

There are about 5,000 USTA members in the San Antonio area, with players as young as 5 years old and as old as 96, said Cari Breakie Richardson, president of the San Antonio Tennis Association.

USTA members have exclusive access to tickets through Thursday. Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday. Two-day ticket packages start at $25 and go up to $250. Single-day tickets will cost between $30 and $135 per day.

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Kyle Ringo

Kyle Ringo is a freelance journalist based in San Antonio. He has covered business, college athletics, the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball for numerous publications and websites.