Japan clinched a spot in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-offs in April after beating Uzbekistan on the final day of the 2011 Asia/Oceania Zone Group I event in Nonthaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand.
Hosts Thailand overcame Kazakhstan to secure third place, while Chinese Taipei won the decisive play-offs, forcing India to be relegated back to Group II in 2012.
Japan won the final and a place in April’s World Group II play-offs by easily overcoming Uzbekistan 3-0. In the first match, Junri Namigata, the world No. 109, won against Sabina Sharipova 64 75.
Subsequently, Japan’s Ayumi Morita hit better ground strokes, while Nigina Abduraimova, world No.555, struggled with her service games resulting in Japan’s No.1 winning the match 64 61.
Japan guaranteed its place in April’s World Group II play-offs.
In the doubles, while playing only just three games, Japan led 2-1 before Abduraimova and Albina Khabibulina retired, due to Abduraimova suffering from a shoulder injury.
"It’s a big success for us winning the Asia/Oceania group two years in a row,” said Japan’s captain Takeshi Murakami. “This week was tough, on the first day we lost the first singles match because of cramp but Ayumi won, which gave the team a lot of energy. In the World Group II play-offs, we have to improve mentally and physically. It’s good that we have another two months to practice together."
The last time Japan was in the World Group II play-offs, it was defeated 4-1 by Slovenia in 2010.
Ayumi Morita, the world No.58, proved her worth did her nation proud. "I’m very happy that my team won and I could win my matches both in singles and doubles,” she said.
“I’ve been playing very well this week without losing. Playing for my nation makes me happy but it’s also a different kind of pressure, it’s always tough to play your best tennis but I try to play in the same way as on the tour. This April, I’m sure that it is a big chance for us going back to world group but definitely, it will be tough. I will improve myself for that.”
Despite losing in the final round, Uzbekistan’s Captain Dmitriy Tomashevich was satisfied with the outcome and expects that in the future his team will have a chance to experience the World Group.
“This whole week was very successful for us,” said Tomashevich. “We just had young players, not top players who were injured so the second place in this big Asia tournament is still very impressive. Every day, each of my young players had to play two matches so they became tired but finally they can do it well, gained a lot of experience and we will definitely come back stronger next year. I hope we can get to the World Group.”
Thailand clinched third place in the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I by beating Kazakhstan 3-0. In the first singles, Nicha Lertpitaksinchai played neck-and-neck with Galina Voskoboeva before Thailand’s player found her form in the deciding set to win 57 76(5) 61.
Then, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn overwhelmed Sessil Karatantcheva, the world No.139, 63 63. In the doubles, Nicha Lertpitaksinchai and Nungnadda Wannasuk won after Voskoboeva and Karatantcheva retired due to Karatantcheva’s illness.
Thailand’s captain Vittaya Samrej was happy with his team when he said: "Last year we only got sixth place from this event. I’m proud of my team, everyone did their best. Although, Tamarine Tanasugarn was unable to enter the match, she was the one who cheered the whole team up. This team showed all of their talents and I believe everyone will be an important part of Thailand’s team in the future."
Elsewhere, Korea finished fifth after seeing off China 2-1. In the first singles rubber, 16-year-old Haochen Tang crushed Hyun-Hui Hong 62 60. Next, So-Jung Kim levelled the scoreline by defeating Ran Tian 63 63 and then, in the deciding doubles match, Ye-Ra Lee and Hyun-Hui Hong won against Tang and Ran 62 63.
"Our number one player was injured but we still won today’s match for 5th place,” said Korea’s captain Il Soon Kim. “It’s a good result for me. Next year, we will need to improve our team, they’re growing up together and I hope this could be a great team with top players and back-ups."
China’s captain Zhong Fu was disappointed but not inconsolable. "Sixth place is not bad for us, as before coming here our goal was to maintain our position in this group,” he said. “Our players are all young, we’ve been practicing hard. And in the future I hope my team can improve and hopefully next year, we will get better results."
In the relegation match, India lost 2-1 to Chinese Taipei and will go down to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Zone Group II next year.
In two extremely quick rubbers, Ting-Fei Juan defeated Ashvarya Shrivastava 63 63 and Chin-Wei Chan overcame Poojashree Venkatesh 75 61.
In the doubles, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Ashvarya Shrivastava salvaged something for India by narrowly winning against Ting-Fei Juan and Yui-Lynn Miao 16 63 76(5).
"Well, we finally won the match and stayed in this group, that’s great for me,” said Chinese Taipei’s captain Shi-Ting Wang said with a smile. “I'm very happy even though we lost in the last doubles match. Hopefully we will do better next year when we get the top players back."
India’s captain, Rohit Rajpal, accepted that he was very disappointed with the outcome.
"It’s a big disappointment for us because every day we had been leading, almost winning, but unfortunately we were not able to pull away.
“We played very close matches. Somehow, we just had bad luck this time. We are weak in the second singles player and we are also struggling with the doubles team. Anyway, that’s how games go."
Japan defeated Uzbekistan 3-0
Junri Namigata (JPN) d. Sabina Sharipova (UZB) 64 75
Ayumi Morita (JPN) d. Nigina Abduraimova (UZB) 64 61
Rika Fujiwara/Ayumi Morita (JPN) d. Nigina Abduraimova/Albina Khabibulina (UZB) 21 ret.
3RD PLACE PLAY-OFF
Thailand defeated Kazakhstan 3-0
Nicha Lertpitaksinchai (THA) d. Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 57 76(5) 61
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) d. Sessil Karatantcheva (KAZ) 63 63
Nicha Lertpitaksinchai/Nungnadda Wannasuk (THA) d. Sessil Karatantcheva/Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 62 ret.
5TH PLACE PLAY-OFF
Korea, Rep. defeated China, P.R. 2-1
Hao Chen Tang (CHN) d. Hyun-Hui Hong (KOR) 62 60
So-Jung Kim (KOR) d. Ran Tian (CHN) 63 63
So-Jung Kim/Ye-Ra Lee (KOR) d. Hao Chen Tang/Ran Tian (CHN) 62 63
Chinese Taipei defeated India 2-1
Ting-Fei Juan (TPE) d. Ashvarya Shrivastava (IND) 63 63
Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) d. Poojashree Venkatesha (IND) 75 61
Rushmi Chakravarthi/Ashvarya Shrivastava (IND) d. Ting-Fei Juan/Yui-Lynn Miao (TPE) 16 63 76(5)
1. Japan (promoted)
5. Korea, Rep.
6. China, Rep.
7. Chinese Taipei
8. India (relegated)
- Asia/Oceania Zone Group I
ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP II
Indonesia defeated Hong Kong, China 2-1
Ayu-Fani Damayanti (INA) d. Katherine Ip (HKG) 61 61
Ling Zhang (HKG) d. Lavinia Tananta (INA) 36 62 75
Yayuk Basuki/Jessy Rompies (INA) d. Ho Ching Wu/Ling Zhang (HKG) 61 46 64
3RD PLACE PLAY-OFF
Philippines defeated Singapore 2-1
Anna Clarice Patrimonio (PHI) d. Clare Fong (SIN) 61 61
Stefanie Tan (SIN) d. Anna Christine Patrimonio (PHI) 76(4) 26 76(5)
Tamitha Nguyen/Anna Clarice Patrimonio (PHI) d. Clare Fong/Stefanie Tan (SIN) 62 62
5TH PLACE PLAY-OFF
Turkmenistan defeated Pakistan 2-1
Ushna Suhail (PAK) d. Amangul Mollayeva (TKM) 61 60
Anastasiya Prenko (TKM) d. Sarah Mahboob Khan (PAK) 61 61
Jenneta Halliyeva/Anastasiya Prenko (TKM) d. Sarah Mahboob Khan/Ushna Suhail (PAK) 62 62
7TH PLACE PLAY-OFF
Oman defeated Kyrgyzstan 3-0
Sarah Al Balushi (OMA) d. Alena Panfilova (KGZ) 61 61
Fatma Al Nabhani (OMA) d. Emilia Tenizbaeva (KGZ) 61 60
Sarah Al Balushi/Fatma Al Nabhani (OMA) d. Alena Panfilova/Emilia Tenizbaeva (KGZ) 60 60
1. Indonesia (promoted)
2. Hong Kong, China
- Asia/Oceania Zone Group II