Indian players won’t be affected by the reputation of higher-ranked Latvians and play a fearless brand of tennis, captain Vishal Uppal said on Friday, confident that his team can take the fight their formidable opponents in their upcoming Billie Jean King Cup tie.
India will play Latvia in their first-ever World Group Playoffs tie, to be played on the indoor courts of National Tennis Centre Lielupe in Jurmala from April 16.
“We are not only excited, we are hungry to do well. We can only gain, we have nothing to lose from this tie,” Uppal said at a press conference on the eve of the team’s departure.
“They have players inside top-50, so the pressure will be on them to beat us. We are not playing reputation but players, we will play hard.”
India will be up against a big challenge as the top players of the host country include world No 47 Anstasija Sevastova, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (ranked 53), Diana Marcinkevica (ranked 274) Daniela Vismane (492) and Patricija Spaka. The Latvian team is captained by Adrians Zguns.
The Indian team will be led by Ankita Raina, the country’s best singles player ranked 165. The other members are seasoned campaigners Sania Mirza, Karman Kaur Thandi (637), is still on the comeback road after an injury, Rutuja Bhosale (420), who has played an important role in the last tie, and debutant Zeel Desai (568).
India had qualified for the World Group Play-offs for the first time after finishing second in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, held in Dubai in March 2020. Latvia lost 2-3 to USA in their group, after giving the stalwarts a stiff fight.
The Indian team will reach Latvia on Saturday and spend 24 hours in quarantine before hitting the courts from Monday. Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina are already training together in Dubai, with the veteran inviting the India No 1 to stay with her.
Asked about the approach the team will adopt, considering their superior rivals, Uppal was confident that his team’s fighting spirit will be high given their last campaign.
“That’s why upsets happen. We want to make an impression. It’s a huge moment for Indian women’s tennis. We have never reached the Play-off stage before, we are all pumped up.”
“I am spoilt for choices. I can nominate anyone. It would depend on whose game is best suited for the conditions,” Uppal added.
Bhosale said she plays her best tennis competing in Billie Jean King Cup, previously known as Fed Cup.
“It’s a dream of every player to play for country with that national flag on the jersey. I am looking forward to the tie. I like playing indoors, I just have to see if it is slow indoor courts or fast,” she said.
Coach Radhika Tulpule Kanitkar said the players have worked hard for the tie and will present a good fight.
The matches on April 16 and 17 will be shown in India on Eurosport
With PTI Inputs
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.