The tennis news of the week thus far has been about the men sliding onto red clay in Monte Carlo—and the tournament’s two biggest draws, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, sliding back out after their opening matches. Now, as the weekend approaches, attention will turn toward the women, as they don their national colors and compete for their countries in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying round. On Friday and Saturday, 14 teams will face off in seven ties around the world; the winners will join Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, and Slovakia in the finals, which will be held the second week in November at a location to be determined.

Iga Swiatek, Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez, Angelique Kerber, and Elena Rybakina are among the better-known names who will participate this weekend. But the highlight, from a world-events perspective, is the U.S.-Ukraine tie in Asheville, N.C. The USTA will donate 10 percent of ticket sales to Ukraine crisis relief, and King, who will be on hand, will donate $50,000 with her partner, Ilana Kloss.

So at one level, this should feel like a contest among friends and allies, rather than enemies. But there’s still tennis to be played, and a spot in the final stage to be earned. Right now, the U.S. is loaded with Top 50 WTA players, and a BJK Cup title in November would seem to be within reach. For this tie, No. 14 Jessica Pegula and No. 43 Alison Riske will play singles, while Shelby Rogers and Desirae Krawczyk are scheduled to play the doubles match on Saturday.


The U.S. is missing its highest-ranked player, No. 8 Danielle Collins, but Ukraine will be without its star of recent years, Elina Svitolina. The country will be represented by Dayana Yastremska and Katarina Zavatska in singles, and the Kichenok twins, Lyudmyla and Nadiia, in doubles.

The U.S. would seem to have a slight edge, rankings-wise, but a hot hand can be the difference-maker in team events. Yastremska is ranked just 93rd at the moment, yet she has the most ball-striking talent of anyone on either team. She’ll take on Riske in the opening rubber, followed by Pegula vs. 22-year-old Zavatska. On Saturday, the two matchups will be reversed. If you’re looking to get an idea of how these players have fared against each other in the past, don’t bother: Neither of the Americans have played either of the Ukrainians.

If anything, the doubles matchup would be even less predictable. The Kichenoks have an extreme experience edge. They’re 29-year-old veterans who have played together for most of their lives and have won three titles together; at the same time, they’ve never been past the third round at a major. Rogers is a sneaky-good doubles player who has made the quarters at the Australian Open and French Open with Petra Martic. And then there’s Krawczyk. She’s ranked outside the Top 900 in singles, but she has reached the final of the French Open in doubles, and she won the last three legs of the calendar-year Grand Slam in mixed doubles in 2021.

If the U.S. can get a singles win over Yastremska, it should be OK. If not, it should still be favored to take the doubles rubber. Either way, this should be a weekend that blends team competition with a spirit of national cooperation.