Spanish Tennis Federation Signals A State Of Intent By Sacking Conchita Martinez

Conchita Martinez

The Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) took a firm stance in showing how it wants to shape the future of Spanish tennis by firing Conchita Martinez from her position as Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain. In a statement issued on Thursday, the RFET stated that they would part company with Martinez with a view to change its outlook going into 2018. Martinez subsequently tweeted a statement where she severely criticised the RFET’s verdict, citing it as ‘disrespectful’. She also thanked Spanish tennis fans and players for their support in the message, and said that her desire to continue to work at the highest level of the game remains intact.

Conchita Martinez’s tenure comes to an end

Martinez was in charge of Spain’s Davis Cup team from 2015, becoming the first-ever Spanish female Davis Cup captain. Her appointment came in a volatile period for Spanish tennis, as the RFET parted ways with her fore-bearer, Gala Léon, in controversial circumstances. Having also been named as Spain’s Fed Cup captain in 2013, Martinez was faced with the unenviable position of fighting a war on two fronts, where Spain had not fared well in the recent past. The Spanish had last won a Davis Cup in 2011, where a Rafael Nadal-inspired team helped defeat their Argentinian counterparts 3-1 overall. Their Fed Cup record was also poor. The last time the Spanish claimed a Fed Cup title was in 1998, beating Switzerland 3-2 in Geneva.
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Despite her dismissal and her falling out of favour with the RFET, Martinez did well this year. She had a huge workload and unforthcoming support from the RFET, which makes her achievements with the Spanish Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams all the more remarkable. Spain reached the World Group first round of the Fed Cup, where they narrowly crashed out to the Czech Republic, a nation that has won five out of the last six Fed Cups. The Davis Cup team, on the other hand, crashed out following a tough quarterfinal trip to Serbia, which would have challenged even the best nations in the competition at the moment. It is without doubt that Conchita Martinez brought a fresh approach to the teams that she coached, and her personal approach was seen to work wonders even on an individual level, where she guided Garbine Muguruza to her maiden Wimbledon title in July.

A change of direction for the RFET?

Despite this, Martinez’s sudden and unsympathetic dismissal reveals that the RFET is still an organisation reeling from the institutional failures that saw it grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons prior to Martinez’s appointment. The decision to remove Martinez from her post was taken unanimously. Therefore, it seems as though the RFET is looking to head towards a new direction, leaving all of the controversies of the past behind. Martinez clearly did not fit into the RFET’s planned overhaul of Spanish tennis, which aims to bring it back to the highs of 2011 and 1998.
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It is mystifying to think that a country whose players currently occupy the top spot in both the men’s and women’s circuits can have such issues with organisation and strategy. In Martinez, the RFET had a competent, committed individual with a track record of success. Her successor will have to deliver quickly if they are to justify the RFET’s unpopular decision with Spanish tennis fans. Unlike Martinez herself, this saga has placed the RFET’s reputation on the line. The Spanish Tennis Federation cannot risk another blunder, which would surely tarnish their already-suffering reputation further.

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