ULCINJ, MONTENEGRO: On an exciting second day of Europe/Africa Zone Group II action, three of the four ties finished 2-1. The only team to triumph 3-0 was in Group A as Latvia defeated top seeds Estonia. Things looked promising for Latvia when their second player, Jelena Ostapenko, easily defeated Julia Matojan 61 61.
Latvia’s No. 1, Diana Marcinkevica then won her singles rubber 75 36 61 against Erika Hendsel before teaming up with Laura Gulbe to win the doubles rubber 63 75 to put Latvia top of Group A.
The other tie in Group A saw Finland take on Tunisia. Tunisia’s singles players comfortably guided them to victory, with Nour Abbes defeating Ella Leivo 61 62 before Ons Jabeur overcame Piia Suomalainen 64 60. Finland won the doubles rubber in straight sets but Tunisia join Latvia at the top of Group A, having won both ties so far this week.
The hosts Montenegro took on the second seeds South Africa in Group B and it was South Africa who took the lead when Natalie Grandin defeated Vladica Babic 61 36 60, but Montenegro fought back, Danka Kovinic defeating Chanel Simmonds 61 60, meaning the tie went to the deciding doubles rubber.
Montenegro took the first set 64 but South Africa fought back, taking the second set 7-2 in a tiebreak to level the rubber. However, it was Montenegro who finished the strongest, taking the final set 63 and, with it, the tie.
The other tie in Group B saw Greece take on Lithuania. Despoina Papamichail won the opening rubber 61 61 over Justina Mikulskyte and things looked to be going well for Greece when Maria Sakkari took the first set 75 against Lina Stanciute, but the Lithuanian fought back and won the rubber 57 62 61.
The tie went to the deciding doubles rubber and the Greek pairing of Despoina Vogasari and Despoina Papamichail took the opening set 64. The Lithuanian duo of Lina Stanciute and Justina Mikulskyte fought back, taking the second set 60. This left a one-set shootout for the tie and it was Lithuania who won it, taking the doubles rubber 46 60 62 and winning the tie 2-1.
These results mean that the teams competing in the play-offs have now been decided as Latvia, Tunisia, Montenegro and Lithuania have all won two ties. Tomorrow’s matches see Latvia take on Tunisia and Montenegro take on Lithuania to decide who will top each group. These matches will be important as the top team from Group A will play the runners-up of Group B, and vice-versa, in the play-offs, with the two winners advancing to Europe/Africa Zone Group I for next year.