The winner of the match would have played another playoff in April to decide which country would be promoted to the World Group II, but with Britain losing 2-0, they will now be out of action as a team until this time next year.
It was perhaps the first time the British team have missed British Number One Johanna Konta: if Konta had been fit to play, the Brits would have outranked the Belgians in both matches. As it stood, the opposite applied, and crucially it paid dividends.
The day got off to a tricky start when Katie Swan dropped the first set against Ysaline Bonaventure. The Belgian is ranked over 400 places ahead of Swan and the Brit wasn’t expected to win, but an excellent fightback in the second set gave the 16-year-old some hope. In the decider, though, it was the Brit’s inability to hold serve which let her down, eventually succumbing to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 defeat and handing to advantage to the Belgians.
Next up was Heather Watson, currently ranked #85, against Belgian Number One Alison van Uytvanck, ranked #43. Watson again threatened to pull off a comeback after dropping the first set before levelling after the second, but the Brit fell to the same fate as her younger teammate, losing 6-4 3-6 6-4 in almost two-and-a-half hours.
With the Belgian’s completing a 2-0 victory, the final doubles rubber will not be played.
So that’s it for another year of Fed Cup action for Great Britain; here’s hoping the experience that the likes of Swan and Freya Christie have picked up this week will prove invaluable for the coming year and for the rest of their careers.