Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Peru and Costa Rica all emerged victorious in the first day of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group II, held at the Palmas Athletic Club de Palmas del Mar in Humacao, and will decide the two teams to advance to Zone Group I for 2015.
In the first singles rubber, between the second players, Puerto Rican Yolimar Ogando eased past Kiana Marshall of Barbados 62 61. However, the Puerto Rican had to overcome her nerves and a slow start to come from behind in the opening set. Once she relaxed and increased her level of consistency, Ogando exerted her strength in the baseline rallies to wear down the left-hander from Barbados.
In the second singles rubber, Puerto Rico’s No. 1, Monica Puig, showed why she is the highest ranked player in the Group, comfortably defeating Ancia Ifill 62 61.
Puig, No. 54 in the WTA rankings, dominated the match from start to finish maintaining a controlled depth to her shots and using her serve as a weapon against an opponent who returned with power but not much accuracy. Ogando and Puig then combined to win the doubles 61 62 against Melena Lopez and Cherise Slocomb to give Puerto Rico a 3-0 win.
“The team’s performance was very good. Yolimar played confidently and aggressively and it helped us a lot to be 1-0 ahead. That allows Monica to come onto the court much calmer and she shined. We are pleased”, said Puerto Rico captain Juan Carlos Escudero.
“In the singles I served pretty well. Her serve gave me a few problems because it had a different spin on it and there was a lot of wind out there, which I had to adjust to during the match, but I played pretty well”, said Puig, to which Ogando replied “I started a little nervously because we’re here in Puerto Rico, but I was mentally strong and I became more aggressive and gave it my all. It was a great experience to play with Monica, something I will never forget”.
In the first singles rubber in Group A, Dominican Republic’s Michelle Valdez breezed past Daniela Diez of Panama 61 61. Francesca Segarelli guaranteed the tie for Dominican Republic as she defeated Karla Contreras without any problem 61 60. In the doubles, the Dominicans completed the whitewash when Glenny Cepeda and Karla Portalatin overcame Diez and Gabriela Gonzalez 60 61.
“Our players came out very motivated and ready to do what they needed”, announced Dominican Republic captain Joelle Schad. “We played our strongest players in the singles because, although Panama is not among the favourites, in this type of competition you never know what might happen. My girls had a very positive mentality and played very well”.
In the first singles in Group C, Peruvian Camila Vargas defeated Jacklyn Lambert of Bermuda 60 60 in a little over an hour. Patricia Ku Flores sealed the victory for the South Americans with a 62 61 win over Tyler Smith. Peru completed the 3-0 victory when Vargas and Maria Paula Torres defeated Smith and Tara Lambert 76(4) 63 in the doubles.
“The girls were very good”, said Peruvian captain Percy Melzi “We gave Vargas, a 16-year-old, a baptism of fire. Patty came into the week recovering from bronchitis. She produced a great performance and, thank God, won comfortably.”
The only tie that was decided in the doubles was the Group D clash between Uruguay and Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans won the first singles rubber when Juli Raventos defeated Margot Mercer 62 63 but Uruguay fought back and took the second singles rubber, Carolina de los Santos overcoming Ariana Rahmanparast 75 62.
The tie was decided in a marathon match in the doubles. Raventos paired up with Andrea Brenes for Costa Rica and they narrowly defeated de los Santos and Magdalena Boado 76(4) 26 64 to give Costa Rica the victory.