The Indian tennis team may not be at full strength, but women's coach Enrico Piperno hoped for at least a bronze medal when the draw for the team competition was made at the Aoti Tennis Centre here on Thursday.
In the absence of players like Sunita Rao and Shikha Uberoi, who served the team well in the Beijing Olympics and Doha Asian Games respectively, the Indian women would rely heavily on Sania Mirza.
Coach Piperno said he was happy with the way the things panned out as India was drawn to meet Indonesia in the first round of the women's team competition.
With Poojashree Venkatesh and Rushmi Chakravarthi lending stability to the side, along with the experience of Nirupama Sanjeev to fall back on, coach Piperno said he expected the team to cross the first hurdle without much fuss.
If it does manage to get past Indonesia, India will meet Thailand for a berth in the semifinals.
“I was hoping to avoid China and Japan before the semifinals as you get a medal for making the semifinals and there will be no play-off. We hardly stand a chance against such good teams,” said Piperno.
Glimmer of hope
“With Sania playing well and Poojashree ready to support her, there is a glimmer of hope for the Indian team,” he added.
In the men's competition, Somdev Devvarman will spearhead India's challenge and will have support from Vishnu Vardhan, Karan Rastogi and Sanam Singh.
The doubles stars — Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna — are all busy with the Paris Masters, a week before the World Tour Finals in London. As Bhupathi and Bopanna have been kept in the squad, there was no scope for arranging alternative players in their absence.
The team was expecting Sanam Singh and Tara Iyer to join from the U.S. late on Thursday night, and Sania Mirza to reach from Delhi on Friday.