The following is an article written by Niamh on her Fed Cup Debut experience.

Although arriving at 2am on Thursday morning wasn't ideal it was great to finally have made it to Cairo. Myself and team captain Garry Cahill travelled out together with Lynsey Mc Cullough due to arrive on Thursday night. Julia Moriarty and Amy Bowtell were already out there and had secured a 3-0 victory against Malta in our opening tie on the Wednesday.
On Thursday we had our toughest match up against Morocco who proved too strong, Bowtell lost 6-2 6-0 with Moriarty losing 6-3 6-3. Myself and Julia teamed up to play the doubles and although it was a dead rubber we gave it everything and were unfortunate to lose 6-4,4-6,6-3. Despite hitting 3 fresh airs, my first match on the clay had gone pretty well! Algeria had a surprising victory over Malta defeating them 2-1 in the other tie in our group.

Friday was the first day the the whole team was together as Lynsey arrived Thursday night, the team spirit was lifted in the Irish camp! We faced Algeria in a winner takes all match as we were the two teams fighting for the second place spot in our group, with Morocco qualifying for play-offs in first place. Bowtell was unlucky to lose 6-1 in the third after playing an amazing first set winning it 6-0. Her opponent was very tough and willing to stay out on the court rallying all day which proved too much for Bowtell who looked to be fatiqued and carrying an injury by the time the third set came around. Moriarty also got off to a great start winning the first set 6-0 but her opponent fought back, Moriarty regained her composure to win 6-4 in a very tense third set. 1 rubber apiece heading into doubles and although I would have relished the opportunity to play the deciding match, Lynsey and Julia we selected to team up for the doubles and lost 6-1 in the third set. This loss meant that Morocco and Algeria qualified for play-offs from our group with Morocco due to face Eygpt and Algeria to take on the favourites Turkey. The winners of these ties would gain promotion to Europe/Africa Zone Group II.

Although I was a spectator that day, as a team we learned that a match can always be turned around even if you lose the first set 6-0 you just have to keep fighting.
The final day of what had been a tough few days and we were due to take on Moldova in the play-off for 5th/6th positions. It was still a very important match as it would decide our seeding for next years competition. Bowtell was carrying a stomach injury so I was selected to take her place in the number two singles spot. I got off to a bad start going 5-0 down within a few minutes and couldn't seem to get rid of my nerves. I was very disappointed to lose 6-2 6-0 in a match I'm sure I would have won had I just been playing on our lovely artificial grass! The lack of practice on the clay made it very difficult for me to play well. Luckily Julia didn't have the same problem and won her singles easily, 6-1 6-2. 1 rubber apiece again and Julia and Lynsey teamed up for the doubles doing brilliantly to take the match 7-6 in the third set. A 2-1 victory against Moldova meant we finished 5th overall with Turkey and Morocco both gaining promotion to Europe/Africa Zone Group II.

Although my Fed Cup debut didn't go exactly as how I had imagined, it was an honour to represent my country and hopefully I'll get the oppourtunity again. This experience will stand to me, and all the hard work is most definately worth it when you put on that Irish tracksuit. May I make the suggestion of a few clay courts in Cork perhaps? Maybe someday!Thanks for the support,
Niamh Coveney