The Indian girls’ fairytale performance continued as they topped group ‘D’ with a superb 2-1 victory over Japan in the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 girls’ tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Wednesday.
Shivani Ingle saved two breakpoints to avoid going down 0-5 in the decider before pulling the carpet from under Yuki Ando’s feet for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory. The nerve-wracking three-hour duel put India 1-0 ahead.
In an equally fascinating contest, Sathwika Sama recovered from 0-3 in both sets to beat the Japanese No.1 Ayumi Miyamamoto 6-3, 6-4 as India took an unbeatable 2-0 lead.
Captain Ankita Bhambri — who had driven home the point that it was important to play to potential rather than be intimidated by the quality of opponent’s game — opted to conserve the energy of the Indian girls for the crucial quarterfinals against Kazakhstan and the team conceded the doubles rubber. The victory against Japan was crucial as it meant that India avoided facing top seed Australia — which has dropped only 14 games in nine matches, while winning 108 games in 18 sets — in the quarterfinals.
Though they adopted a patient approach, looping the balls in and the top-spin often taking the ball beyond the reach of the Japanese, both Shivani and Sathwika played with refreshing assurance and punch, handling every variation the Japanese girls tried.
So, Japan is now left with the unenviable task of facing the Aussies for a qualification berth to the World Group competition to be staged in the Czech Republic in August.
In other quarterfinals, China will play New Zealand and Hong Kong will be up against Chinese Taipei.
The results (league):
Group-A: Australia bt Kazakhstan 3-0; Uzbekistan bt Turkmenistan 3-0.
Group-B: Chinese Taipei bt New Zealand 3-0; Korea bt Singapore 3-0.
Group-C: India bt Japan 2-1 [Shivani Ingle bt Yuki Ando 6-4, 3-6, 7-5; Sathwika Sama bt Ayumi Miyamoto 6-4, 6-4; Aarja Chakraborty & Sathwika Sama lost to Auri Nagata & Ayumi Miyamoto w.o.].
Indonesia bt Kyrgyzstan 3-0 [Faiza Salssaliba Nurhidayati bt Ermeka Nurgazieva 6-1, 6-0; Shevita Aulana bt Eliza Askarova 6-2, 6-3; Fitriani Sabatini & Faiza Salsaliba Nurhidayati bt Eliza Askarova & Ermeka Nurgazieva 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-3].
Group-D: China bt Thailand 2-1; Hong Kong bt Philippines 3-0.