The International Tennis Federation has announced the 2016 Fed Cup Heart awards. This is an initiative which was first presented to Melanie Oudin at the 2009 Fed Cup Final. The award is a recognition of the players who have represented their nation with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team goal. The 2016 version of this award will see a total of six players.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich was shortlisted for this award in recognition of her three victories against Canada in their World Group II tie in Quebec City to put Belarus into the World Group play-offs for the first time since 2004. Kateryna Bondarenko received this feat on after winning all five of the rubbers she contested for Ukraine in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I event in Eilat, Israel. Hsieh Su-Wei got fame for three of four singles rubbers in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in Hua Hin, Thailand, to lead Chinese Taipei into the World Group II play-offs for the first time since 2007. Nadia Podoroska won all four of her singles rubbers at the Americas Zone Group I event in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to help Argentina reach the World Group II play-offs.
Sasnovich said: “I am very pleased to win such a prestigious award. I want to thank all those people who voted for me, and gave me a chance to help people in need. I want to give this award money to support the children at the Cancer Centre in Borovlyany. I really hope that this money will help someone.”
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 102 nations entered in 2016. The competition is 53 years old having been founded in 1963. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Fed Cup. International sponsors are Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and Betway (Official Betting Sponsor). beIN SPORTS is the Official Global Media Rights Partner.Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei & Nadia Podoroska of Argentina have already been selected for the award this year whereas there would be two more tennis players yet to be chosen.
While Sasnovich has won the award for the World Group and World Group II first round category, Bondarenko,Hsieh & Podoroska will get the award for the regional Zone Group I. The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas ties took place in February 2016. Sasnovich, Bondarenko and Podoroska will all receive their awards on Friday during the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semifinals, and World Group and World Group II play-offs taking place on 16-17 April.
Bondarenko said: ‘I want to thank everyone who voted for me, I am very honoured to win this Fed Cup Heart Award. I am grateful to be able to help an orphanage which is very close to my heart. I am sure this money will be a big help to them.”
In a public voting done by FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es, these four names were chosen. Initially there were ten players shortlisted by a judging panel consisting of ITF President David Haggerty, and Sabine Appelmans (Belarus, former Fed Cup player/captain), Mercedes Paz (Argentina, former Fed Cup player), Craig Gabriel (Australia, international journalist), Sandra Harwitt (USA, international journalist), Corinne Dubreuil (France, international photographer), and Ray Giubilo (Italy, international photographer).
Hsieh said: “I am very happy to receive the Fed Cup Heart Award. I am always proud to play for my country, and wish my teammates the best of luck this weekend. I am glad I am able to help the Maria Social Welfare Foundation, which supports children with mental or physical problems.”
The winners will receive a cheque to be donated to their chosen charity. Aliaksandra Sasnovich will donate a cheque for $6,000 to the National Research Center for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology in Borovlyan, Minsk; while cheques for $1,000 will be donated by Kateryna Bondarenko (to a children’s orphanage in Kryvyi Rig), Hsieh Su-Wei (to the Maria Social Welfare Foundation in Chinese Taipei), and Nadia Podoroska (to the Comedor Los Conejitos food centre in Rosario).
Podoroska said: “I am very happy to have won the Heart Award. It’s an honour to receive this recognition from Fed Cup. Being able to give something back, doing what I love the most and representing my country is a huge satisfaction. The money will go to Comedor Los Conejitos in Rosario, who work every day to improve the lives of the kids.”
Speaking on the occasion, David Haggerty, the ITF President, said: “There were some outstanding performances during the Fed Cup ties in February, so I would like to congratulate all four players for coming out on top of the public vote. The Fed Cup Heart Award continues to reward players for the commitment they make to their team and the competition as a whole. I am sure that all the winners will take great pride in making their donations to charity.”