After A gap of three years, Marina Erakovic will at last play Fed Cup for New Zealand again this week.
Her last appearance was in Malaysia in 2010. The following year Erakovic decided not to play Fed Cup and when Sacha Jones was injured, Tennis New Zealand pulled out.
That controversial decision led to the International Tennis Federation relegating New Zealand to Asia/Oceania Group 2 and imposing a one-year ban.
Joining Erakovic are 17-year-old Emily Fanning, who has a ranking of 1061 and is about to stop playing on the circuit for a year to concentrate on her education, and the unranked Abigail Guthrie and Emma Hayman.
So even though minnows like Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Yemen, Turkmenistan and Vietnam are in the same group, promotion for New Zealand weighs heavily on Erakovic's shoulders.
She will spend the week in Kazakhstan up against players far less talented than those she plays on the WTA circuit and it's unlikely she'll be tested.
Erakovic could have chosen to play in the qualifying tournament in Doha to pick up ranking points instead of the Fed Cup, but says she felt it was more important to represent New Zealand again.
"Originally my coach [Christian Zahalka] was hesitant about it and didn't want me to do it, but I really like the Fed Cup and playing for New Zealand," Erakovic said.
"I'll do my best, at the moment we don't have the players with rankings to make a big impact, but I am sure if we can do a bit at a time it'll be good."
After the disappointments at the Australian Open, where she went out in the first round in the singles and doubles, she bounced back last week by making the quarterfinals in the WTA tournament in Pattaya, Thailand.
However, she admitted that her 3 -hour loss to Alize Cornet in Melbourne was one of the toughest defeats she'd ever experienced.
"After my singles match I felt terrible, I felt like what am I doing? What is this?" She said.
"But it's this roller-coaster you go on and at the end of the day you do the best you can to control your emotions and some days you can't. That doesn't mean you're a bad player or you can't make it.
"But I've definitely played some great matches, I've won great matches, been to the finals of tournaments and won tournaments.
"I think it is just a matter of time before I put some pieces of the puzzle together and get everything under control."
The start of a year was tough for her because she was the type of player who likes to get some matches going.
"At home and in Australia there is a lot of support for me, a lot of people wanting me to do well and it's never easy to handle that.
"It doesn't mean that I should hang up my rackets and I think that sooner or later I'll get there.
"I have a good coach, we do the right things and it's just a matter of time."
- © Fairfax NZ News