The high-pitched scream of Veronica Cepede could be heard loud and clear. Montserrat Gonzalez quickly ran towards her and gave her a hug. Paraguay had dealt Argentina a blow in Pool A of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Group I, defeating its close neighbour 2-1 on a sultry afternoon at the Argentina Tennis Club in Buenos Aires.
The match was the most emotional of this tie, lasting two hours and forty-five minutes. Cepede and Gonzalez had defeated none other than Gisela Dulko, the new Australian Open doubles champion, and Florencia Molinero 60 67(4) 75.
The outcome of Pool A is still wide open, although Argentina has the best chance to finish top, after an imposing 3-0 victory over Bolivia in the first round of matches. As it stands, Peru, the youngest team in the competition, is top of the group, after defeating Bolivia 3-0 to remain undefeated.
In order to advance, Argentina must win tomorrow against Peru without dropping a point. If the host nation wins 2-1, either Peru or Paraguay, which faces Bolivia tomorrow, could make the final that determines which country moves on to the World Group II play-offs.
The order of the pool is arranged firstly by ties won, then matches, then sets and lastly games.
Norma Baylon, the great Argentine tennis player, considered to be among the Top 5 players in the 1960s, witnessed the skill that Gonzalez demonstrated at just 16 years of age.
“For us it’s an incredible victory – the best I have ever experienced,” said Gonzalez. “We had some serious opponents on the other side of the net and we made sure we won for our team.”
The Paraguayan team celebrated on the court and then quickly returned to its hotel to focus on the upcoming match against Bolivia.
With the strategy to hit the ball hard, preferably at their opponent on the other side of the net, the Paraguayan players surprised the host side from the very first point, and gave themselves a 2-0 lead in the second set. It was when Molinero held her first service game that the Argentines began to believe in themselves.
Still suffering from jetlag and the change in court surface (she hadn’t played on clay since Roland Garros), Dulko was not playing like the No. 1 doubles player in the world.
“We weren’t used to playing together and that showed in the first set. They surprised us with their level and they never lowered their game, especially in the third set,” said Dulko.
The winner almost came when Dulko faced match point serving at 4-5 down in the second set, but a volley deep to the back of the court could not be returned by Cepede. Argentina made a comeback and achieved a mini-break in the tiebreak to force a third set.
In the final set, the young Paraguayans (Cepede has only just turned 19) kept their heads, broke Molinero and celebrated the win when a sliced return sailed wide.
Earlier in the day, Molinero had struggled to beat Gonzalez 67(5) 61 63 and Cepede defeated Maria Irigoyen 64 62.
“We have to look to the future. I’m not 100% for singles and doubles, but if I have to do it, I will,” said Dulko, who would be No. 1 against the Peruvians.
Peru is now the only unbeaten team in the group, thanks to victories from Patricia Ku over Maria Ines Deheza 76(3) 64 , Bianca Botto over Maria Fernanda Alvarez 62 76(0), and Ferny Angeles and Ximena Siles Luna over Maria Paula Deheza and Noelia Zeballos 67(3) 63 60.
Colombia, from minor to major
“Today I feel like we played really well, I in particular had not felt my best yesterday,” said Mariana Duque Marino. One of the players with the best ranking in the zonal competition (No. 136 in the world), Duque established a 2-0 lead over Chile with a victory against Camila Silva 63 63.
Earlier, Catalina Castaño defeated Andrea Koch 64 76(4). In the doubles, Marino and Karen Emilia Castiblanco Duarte overcame Silva and Fernanda Brito 64 64.
Brazil is not far behind and didn’t drop a point against Mexico. Maria Fernanda Alves imposed herself on Nazari Urbina 63 63, and Ana Clara Duarte beat Ximena Hermoso 60 63. Duarte and Teliana Pereira overcame Laila and Nadia Abdala 61 61
Paraguay defeated Argentina 2-1
Florencia Molinero (ARG) d. Montserrat González (PAR) 67(5) 61 63
Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) d. Maria Irigoyen (ARG) 64 62
Veronica Cepede Royg / Montserrat Gonzalez (PAR) d. Gisela Dulko / Florencia Molinero (ARG) 60 67(4) 75
Peru defeated Bolivia 3-0
Patricia Ku (PER) d. Maria Ines Deheza (BOL) 76(3) 64
Bianca Botto (PER) d. Maria Fernanda Alvarez (Bolivia) 62 76(0)
Ximena Siles Luna / Ferny Angeles (PER) d. Maria Paula Deheza / Noelia Zeballos (BOL) 67(3) 63 60
Colombia defeated Chile 3-0
Catalina Castano (COL) d. Andrea Koch (CHI) 64 76(4)
Mariana Duque Marino (COL) d. Camila Silva (CHI) 63 63
Karen Emila Castablanco Duarte / Mariana Duque Marino (COL) d. Fernanda Brito / Camila Silva (CHI) 64 64
Brazil defeated Mexico 3-0
Maria Fernanda Alves (BRA) d. Nazari Urbina (MEX) 63 63
Ana Clara Duarte (BRA) d. Ximena Hermoso (MEX) 60 63
Roxane Vaisemberg / Teliana Pereira (BRA) d. Laila Abdala / Nadia Abdala (MEX) 61 61
- Americas Zone Group I