Junior Fed Cup: New-look Indian side raring to go

A brand new Indian team with a new captain will attempt to fight its way towards qualification in the Asia Oceania Junior Fed Cup under-16 girls tennis tournament, starting at the DLTA Complex on Monday.

With key players missing, Sai Dedeepya will look to make her mark.

A brand new Indian team with a new captain will attempt to fight its way towards qualification in the Asia Oceania Junior Fed Cup under-16 girls tennis tournament, starting at the DLTA Complex on Monday. With Mahak Jain and Shivani Amineni, who had helped the Indian team qualify for the World Group last year, not available this time owing to various reasons, it will be a good chance for players such as Salsa Aher and Sai Dedeepya to assert their ability.

In fact, Humera Shaikh, the tall girl from Hyderabad with considerable potential, and Salsa Aher the national sub-junior champion, had opted to skip their tenth standard exams to be part of the national squad. Captain Arati Natekar, who had represented the country in Fed Cup in the company of Nirupama Sanjeev and Rushmi Chakravarthi, said that she was looking forward to the girls playing their best, without feeling the pressure.

“We had good two sessions today. We are playing Chinese Taipei in the first match tomorrow. It is a good team. Since our girls are representing the country for the first time at this level, we will get to know them through the matches,” observed Arati, quite happy to be back in the tennis circle.

Arati had quit in 1996, as there was not much scope for women tennis players to have a professional career, and had later married Davis Cupper Gaurav Natekar. The recent Davis Cup in Pune, and a stand being named after Gaurav Natekar, had brought Arati back into the tennis fold.

Eighth seed Uzbekistan and Pacific Oceania will be the other teams in group-D along with India and the third seed Chinese Taipei. Since New Zealand had finished 16th in the last edition in the World Group Finals, incidentally beaten by India, only three teams will qualify for the World Group this time, instead of four. That makes it so much difficult for the girls from 16 countries.

Arati hoped that the host would at least be able to qualify for the knock-out featuring eight teams, two each from the four groups, and take it forward from there. The Indian boys had disappointed by finishing tenth last week in the Junior Davis Cup, and it is time for the girls to fare better.

The groupings:

Pool-A: Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Korea.

Pool-B: Thailand, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand.

Pool-C: Australia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong.

Pool-D: Chinese Taipei, Pacific Oceania, India, Uzbekistan.