New Mexico Lobo women’s tennis player Ruth Copas had a solid showing playing for her home country of Ireland in the 2017 FedCup in June at the National Tennis School & Tennis Bluc Acvila in Chișinău, Moldova.
Copas said she found out she was selected to the team the day after she returned home for the summer. She said it was so nice to be with her family when she got the news.
“I’m so excited…I can’t wait to wear the green jersey!” she said prior to traveling for the competition.
And Copas wasted no time making an impact in the team’s opening action against Ireland.
The teams played a three-match format, which is collectively referred to by fedcup.com terminology as a “tie”, with the the phrase "rubbers" to denote individual matches.
Ireland swept Iceland after Copas paired with Jane Fennelly to cruise to a 6-2, 6-2 doubles victory and a 3-0 team win.
The two countries were familiar opponents, having squared off against each other in three of the past four years. The meetings have been one-sided though, as Ireland moved to 6-0 all-time, according to fedcup.com results.
The team stayed perfect by besting its next opponent, Kenya, by a margin of 2-1. Copas and Fennelly again pulled through in doubles play, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to seal the deal. The win extended Ireland’s all-time record against Kenya to 5-0, with the teams last meeting each other in 2013.
Ireland appeared to be in position to win its four-team pool, but had its hopes dashed after losing all three “rubbers” against its subsequent opponent, Cyprus.
Copas played doubles with Sophia Deriva against the Cyprus duo of Eleni Louka and Anna Savchenko. Though the Irish pair fought back to force a second set tiebreaker, they were unable to extend play, falling 6-0, 7-6 (7-4).
Cyprus ran roughshod through the pool, going an undefeated 9-0 through the competition to earn a shot at promotion.
The winners of each pool squared off against each other to determine which two nations were promoted to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2018.
But Cyprus fell to Moldova, which also went unscathed through round-robin play in its pool, 2-0. While Greece defeated Finland by the same score to cap things off. Both countries earned a promotion to Zone Group II.
Morocco got by Ireland in the positional playoff, taking a 2-1 team win. The teams split in singles play, but Morocco’s Rita Atik and Lina Qostal bested Copas and Fennelly 6-4, 7-5 in doubles to clinch victory.
Ireland finished seventh in Europe/Africa Zone Group III and will compete in the same group next year.
Although Ireland was unable to win its pool and earn an opportunity to be promoted to Group II, Copas and her teammates got to share an experience that was likely a dream come true for most young tennis players.
Copas, who is entering her junior year with the Lobos, said her aspirations to compete on this stage for her country had been at the forefront of her mind since she began playing.
“Fed cup was my goal since I started playing tennis. My second goal was a tennis scholarship to America,” Copas said.
Now the tennis standout can say that she has accomplished both. She is expected to be the lone upperclassman for the UNM team next season, and may be looking forward to adding an NCAA appearance to her list of achievements.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football and men’s and women’s tennis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @robert_maler