Indian to take on New Zealand in Fed Cup tennis

February 3rd, 2009 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Perth, Feb 3 (IANS) The spotlight will shift from Yuki to the other Bhambri siblings, Ankita and Sanaa, as India take on New Zealand in their Asia-Oceania Group-I Fed Cup tennis tie, beginning at the State Tennis Centre here Wednesday.The Indian team will be looking up to Ankita and veteran Rushmi Chakravarthi to shoulder the responsibility in singles in the absence of Sania Mirza, who has just returned home from the Australian Open with her mixed doubles title, and Sunitha Rao, who has been barred from representing the country because of her non-resident Indian status. Sanaa, who is making a debut, will team up with Ankita for the doubles.

India are placed in Pool A, also comprising Uzbekistan, and Indonesia.

It will be a tough test for India in the opening tie. Even though India (29) is ranked ahead of New Zealand (31), it trails 2-4 in head-to-head clash.

India lost to the Kiwis 1-2 last year, with Isha Lakhani the only player to pull off a win in the first singles against Sacha Jones in a gruelling three setter.

World No.57 Marina Erakovic, who is fresh from her second round appearance at the Australian Open, will spearhead the New Zealand side. Jones, Kairangi Vano and Di Hollands are the other players.

Vano and Hollands will make their Fed Cup debuts, having dominated the New Zealand domestic circuit this summer.

While Erakovic will play the first singles against Ankita, ranked 371, Rushmi who is placed at 505, is likely to face Jones who is ranked 329 on the WTA charts.

Indian team captain Enrico Piperno said they will be looking to win at least one singles and then back on the doubles match.

“Ankita face a tough task against Erakovic, who is way ahead in rankings. She will have to perform exceedingly well to beat her. We really hope she does that,” Piperno told IANS.

“We will be happy if we win at least one singles match and then bank on the doubles match,” he said.

Piperno said he is satisfied with the team’s progress and is keeping his fingers crossed.

“It is very hot here. It is good we came here early Saturday as it took us some time to get adjusted to the conditions. The girls have been hitting he ball well. Let us hope for the best,” Piperno said.

Pool B consist of Australia, Korea Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

The winning teams from the two Pools will play for a place in the World Group II in April.

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