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Three flights in 24 hours and lost luggage: how tennis star Storm Hunter defied the odds to win BJK Cup match

By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Australian tennis star Storm Hunter won her first match at this year’s BJK Cup in Seville, Spain, on Tuesday, despite landing in the country just hours before it started… without her luggage.

The 29-year-old had been playing in the WTA Finals doubles competition in Cancún, Mexico, last week, eventually losing with partner Elise Mertens in the semifinals on Sunday.

It was then a quick turnaround for the newly crowned world No. 1 doubles player, as she hopped on three flights in 24 hours to eventually arrive in Spain on Tuesday morning, according to the BJK Cup.

Incredibly, despite Hunter losing most of her luggage on the way, she and Kimberly Birrell went on to beat Slovenia’s Veronika Erjavec and Ela Milić – 7-5 6-7 [10-5] – the very same day, earning Australia its first point in the group.

Slovenia won the overall tie, though, after clinching the two singles matches played before.

“It’s been a busy 24 hours. Obviously, as soon as I finished in Cancún, I tried to get here as soon as I could,” Hunter said.

“Ended up landing at 8:30 a.m. this morning. My bags didn’t arrive, so that made it a bit tricky, but I had some rackets on me and I was prepared to play today.”

“I had my outfit, my shoes. And mentally, I was ready to go if our team needed that. It’s definitely been a whirlwind few days.”

The Billie Jean King Cup is akin to the women’s World Cup of tennis, pitting countries from around the world against one another.

The finals are being played in Seville between November 7-12.

The 12 teams – each consisting of five players – have been split into four round-robin groups, with the winner of each progressing to the semifinals.

Each tie consists of two singles matches and one doubles match.

“It’s very exciting, but I’m kind of here to focus on our team. It’s not about me this week,” Hunter added. “It’s about getting Team Australia to do as best as we can.

“Representing my country is the greatest honor and honestly the most amazing thing I can ever do with my tennis career. I want to be ready and prepared whenever possible.”

Some of the game’s top players, such as 2023 US Open champion Coco Gauff and world No. 1 Iga Świątek, opted not to play at this year’s BJK Cup, with the event starting just a day after the rain-delayed WTA Finals.

Hunter, though, bucked the trend and will look to help her Australian team when it faces Kazakhstan in its next match on Thursday, needing a win to avoid elimination from the group stages.

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