HYOGO, JAPAN: Japan's dominating 4-0 victory over Argentina in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II promotion play-off has them eyeing even greater success.
The lopsided win before a partisan crowd in the weekend tie at Bourbon Beans Dome gave the young Japanese squad plenty of reasons for optimism going forward.
Rising prospect and Japan's No. 2, Misaki Doi, who made it to the third round as a qualifier at Wimbledon last month, set the tone with an inspired 60 60 thrashing of Argentina No. 1 Maria Irigoyen on Saturday.
"Doi has great potential," said teammate and Fed Cup veteran Rika Fujiwara, following her doubles victory with Kurumi Nara on Sunday.
"Her confidence is growing and she just needs some more experience."
Fujiwara and Nara beat Irigoyen and Marilen Auroux 61 63 in the final match of the tie and afterwards Fujiwara expressed her strong belief in her teammates.
"I think we can succeed next year in World Group II and have a good chance to move into World Group I," Fujiwara stated. "This was an important victory for us. We can build on it."
Following Doi's smashing start to the tie, Japan's No. 1 Ayumi Morita added to Argentina's pain with a 62 63 victory over Auroux in the second singles match on Saturday.
Morita then clinched the tie for Japan with another straight sets win on Sunday, dispatching Aranza Salut 62 61 in the reverse singles.
Japan's combination of speed and power on the hard court was just too much for a young Argentina squad to overcome. Argentina were clearly hurt by the absence of their top player, Gisela Dulko, who had to bow out of the rescheduled tie because she is getting married this week.
Japan captain Takeshi Murakami was very pleased with the performance of his squad in just his second tie in charge.
"This was an excellent showing by our team today," he said. "We played some great tennis."
With his two top players just 21 (Morita) and 20 (Doi), and Nara only 19, Murakami knows he has a young, but in many ways still raw, team.
"I want all of our players to improve and at least make the Top 50 in the rankings," he commented. "They should play on the WTA Tour and other circuits as much as possible. They need to get physically tougher to compete against the other countries we will be facing."
The 46-year-old Murakami could only smile and laugh when he pointed out after Saturday's action that Morita and Doi were around the same age as his own daughters.
Murakami believes that the interpersonal dynamic of the team is crucial to its future success.
"Independence and communication are very important in the team," he noted. "I want our players to talk to each other both before and during the matches."
Murakami also pointed out that although the singles matches gain the majority of the attention, the doubles can't be overlooked.
"One of the most important factors in the Fed Cup is having a good doubles team," he said.
Following Sunday's play, the draw was conducted on the court by ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti and referee Wayne McKewen for the 2012 Fed Cup.
Japan's already successful weekend got even better, when it was drawn with Slovenia, which means Japan will host the European nation in the first round next February.
The other World Group II ties include the USA welcoming Belarus, the Slovak Republic at home against France and Australia travelling to Switzerland.
Argentina will be relegated to Zone Group I in 2012, along with Estonia, Canada and Sweden, following the loss.
"This was a tough tie for us," said Argentina captain Bettina Fulco. "But our players will learn from the experience."