Storm blows into Brisbane as Hunter stalks top 100

Storm Hunter was close to giving tennis away when injuries halted her singles career for nearly two years.

But the persistent Queenslander kept at it and five years later will spearhead Australia's high-stakes Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico in her home state.

Huge posters featuring the 29-year-old adorned Brisbane's Pat Rafter Arena venue ahead of the Friday-Saturday qualifier, with the winner to progress to November's finals.

"It's pretty crazy, pretty surreal," Hunter said on Monday of her headline billing. 

"I never thought I'd be in this position.

"Early success then injuries and out of it by 25. I didn't think I'd come back and play.

"To achieve this ... I try and use that to inspire anyone in what they do. 

"Keep going when things don't seem to be going your way - just chip away because it makes the success more rewarding."

Hunter finished 2023 as the world's top-ranked doubles player and is fresh off a career-best third-round showing in January's Australian Open.

Storm Hunter at the 2024 Australian Open.
Storm Hunter enjoyed a career-best third-round showing at this year's Australian Open.

That form has continued and last week she hit a singles high of 114.

"It's going to happen," Hunter said of breaking into the top 100. 

"I'm feeling really good, fit and healthy. To set a career-high ranking at 29 years old is cool. 

"It's just a matter of when. I'm not putting any pressure on myself, (I've) been waiting my whole career for it to happen."

Hunter's performances for Australia in singles and doubles make her an obvious selection for new captain Samantha Stosur.

That's despite teammate Daria Saville's imminent return to the top 100, the fit-again fighter provisionally Australia's top-ranked woman at No.94.

Daria Saville.
Fit-again Daria Saville is provisionally Australia's top-ranked woman at world No.94.

Arina Rodionova, the oldest player to enter the top 100 for the first time at 34 earlier this year, is currently ranked No.103.

Rodionova and Hunter arrived in Brisbane on Sunday, but Saville and doubles option Ellen Perez won't join the team until later on Monday.

The draw will be made on Thursday, with two singles matches on Friday, and two more - plus a doubles match - on Saturday.

It is Australia's first home tie since Stosur and an emerging Ash Barty led the nation to the decider in Perth in 2019.

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