NEW DELHI: The Indian girls rose to the occasion to record a comprehensive 3-0 triumph over Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Cup Asia-Oceania under-14 girls' tennis championship at the DLTA Complex here on Friday.
The commendable effort, with Rishika Sunkara, Aishwarya Agrawal and Nova Patel playing with conviction to match the situation, helped the Indian girls emulate the boys in qualifying for the World Group finals to be staged in the Czech Republic later in the season.
The top-seeded Indonesia, the third-seeded Thailand and the fifth-seeded Japan were the other teams to make the semifinals and qualify for the World Group competition.
The key to the Indo-Uzbek clash lay in the first singles, as the fortunes of the latter depended on its second singles player, Alisa Ogorodova. However, while Rishika played with usual flair and remarkable composure, the Uzbeks seemed to have shot themselves in the foot.
Oleg Ogorodov, captain of the Uzbek team, did not allow his daughter, the 13-year-old Alisa, to play freely and even denied her water during the change-over in the first set.
It was probably difficult for the former top-100 player in the ATP circuit to digest the youngster's poor display, and the manner in which she kept double-faulting to drop serve. The strongly-built Ogorodov lacked the maturity to handle the youngster, and even slapped her once in the first set.
The chair-umpire reported the incident to the referee but Ogorodov's attitude did not change much, though he let the girl drink water during the second set.
The athletic Alisa, with good technique and fluent strokes on either flank, played a lot better in the second set but was quite confused when it came to handling the defensive tactics adopted by her opponent.
The indifferent attitude of the Uzbek captain did not help the team's cause either, and Alisa kept making mistakes while trying to hit her way out of trouble.
To her credit, Alisa broke back when Rishika served for the match in the 10th game of the second set, but could not hold serve in the next game. She saved two match points in the 12th game but lacked the rhythm to prolong the duel.
In the second singles, there was no such drama, either on or off the court. Aishwarya played a solid game to dictate terms and raced to 4-0 and 4-1 leads in the first and second sets respectively.
The results (quarterfinals):
Indonesia beat New Zealand 3-0 (Cynthia Melita Setyawan bt Leela Jayne Beattie 6-1, 6-4; Grace Sari Ysidora bt Briar Margot Preston 6-3, 6-3; Grace Sari Ysidora & Dwi Rahayu Pitri bt Emily Jane Fanning & Leela Beattie 6-3, 4-6, 6-1).
Japan beat Australia 3-0 (Akiko Omae bt Jennifer Nguyen 6-2, 6-0; Emi Mutaguchi bt Alexandra Nancarrow 6-3, 6-3; Emi Mutaguchi & Miho Kowase bt Nina Khoury & Alexandra Nancarrow 6-4, 3-6, 6-4).
Thailand beat China 2-1 (Jarunwadee Kaewma lost to Yuze Wang 4-6, 2-6; Luksika Kumkhum bt Tian Cao 6-0, 6-0; Napatsakom Sankaew & Luksika Kumkhum bt Tian Cao & Yuze Wang 6-3, 6-0).
India beat Uzbekistan 3-0 (Rishika Sunkara bt Alisa Ogorodova 6-2, 7-5; Aishwarya Agrawal bt Karolina Chernaya 6-3, 6-1; Nova Patel & Rishika Sunkara bt Karolina Chernaya & Nigina Abduraimova 6-4, 6-3).