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Fed Cup: Sania puts India back to Group I

February 06, 2010 16:10 IST

Sania Mirza and veteran Rushmi Charavarthy registered contrasting singles victories as India blanked Kyrgyzstan 3-0 in the play-off tie to win back their place in the Asia/Oceania Group I of the Fed Cup tennis tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

India were relegated to Group II of the zonal competition last year after losing the play-off tie to Chinese Taipei.

With talented Poojashree Venkatesha suffering a knee injury ahead of the tie, Rushmi played the first singles against Bermet Duvanaeva.

The Indian faced stiff competition from Bermet before prevailing 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, to give India the lead.

The second singles was a cake walk for Sania, who cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Ksenia Palkina and clinched the only slot for promotion for her side.

Rushmi and Sanaa Bhambri were leading 6-0 1-0 when the the rival doubles pair of Bermet and Nelli Buyuklianova conceded the inconsequential rubber.

Last year India had not won a single match and this year the order reversed.

Coach Enrico Piperno was expectedly satisfied with the team's performance but said a stern test lies ahead. "I am happy with the way we played. We achieved what we wanted to, the mission is accomplished. It was not that it was too easy. The other teams were competitive, there were no novice," Piperno said.

"Group I would be tough. There are teams like Kazakhstan who now have some good players in their ranks," Piperno added.

Piperno said Sania's presence helped the other members of the team.

"Sania has been a great help. She is a good support and her presence made a difference."

Talking about the young Poojashree who won both the matches on her debut, Piperno said she is talented but her real test would come next season.

"She still has a long way to go. This (Group II) was no test for her. We can judge her only next year when she plays tougher teams in Group I. Only then we can say if she is the next second singles player for India or not," he said.

"Overall I am happy, the team was disciplined and played like a unit," he added.

Piperno also said that he would request the All India Tennis Association to host the Fed Cup next year.

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