Players are excited and hungry to do well in Billie Jean Cup, says Vishaal Uppal

India is confident of a good performance in its upcoming Billie Jean King Cup contest, says team captain Uppal.

(From left): Coach Radhika Tulpule, Rutuja Bhosale, Zeel Desai and Captain Vishaal Uppal before the departure for the Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off .   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN

It is a daunting task to face Latvia in the World Group play-off tie of the Billie Jean King Cup, but the Indian team views it as a privilege and the best chance to make an impact.

It has been historic for Indian women’s tennis, to qualify from the Asia-Oceania zone to the play-off for the first time.

"The players are excited and hungry to do well. Latvia has top-50 players. We have nothing to lose. We can only gain from this tie," said captain Vishaal Uppal, as he addressed the media on Friday, before the team’s departure for Latvia.

With Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina training in Dubai, and Karman Kaur Thandi set to join from her training base in Germany, the captain felt that the team was adequately prepared to play its best tennis in the tie to be played on indoor hard courts in Jurmala on April 16 and 17.

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On Sunday the players will be in isolation and may get to train from Monday.

"We are not getting the indoor facility on Monday. We will figure out our practice’’, said Vishaal.

Rutuja Bhosale who had played a significant role in helping the team qualify second behind China, recalled how the team played better after meeting the formidable China in the first tie.

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"When there is no expectation, we play good. There is a lot of pride, playing for the country," said Rutuja.

Zeel Desai said that she was thrilled to get into a team on such a historic moment, and assured that she would play her best tennis when called for duty.

Foreseeing two days of intense battle against the former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and her team, Vishaal said that the Indian team had endured five days of competition against five different teams in the regional competition.

"Everything depends on how you play on the day. We are not going to play the reputation of the opponents or their high rank. We will compete as hard as possible," said Vishaal.

He stressed that the choice of players would be made from the perspective of "who can make the most of the conditions’’.

Rutuja said that she was used to playing indoors in the Collegiate circuit in the US, and liked it.

Coach Radhika Tulpule Kanitkar, quite familiar with Ankita and Rutuja in Pune, said that she was following the significant improvement of Indian women’s tennis.

The team is equally excited that the two-day tie would be telecast live in India by EuroSport.

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