The CNMI’s Carol Lee and her two Pacific Oceania teammates moved up to the elite Group I after winning the promotional tie in the 2018 Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II last Saturday in Bahrain. Lee, Samoa’s Steffi Carruthers and Papua New Guinea’s Abigail Tere-Apisah faced Singapore in the promotional round and pulled off a 2-1 triumph in their game last weekend at the Bahrain Tennis Federation hard courts in Isa Town.
It was a come-from-behind win for No. 61 Pacific Oceania, as the higher-ranked Singapore (No. 58) prevailed in the first singles match. Charmaine Shi Yi Seah gave Singapore a 1-0 lead after outclassing Carruthers, 6-4, 6-4. Then in the second singles match, Pacific Oceania kept its hopes alive as Tere-Apisah eked out a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Stefanie Tan.
Less than an hour after tying the semis, Tere-Apisah returned to the court with Carruthers and completed Pacific Oceania’s recovery with an impressive 6-1, 6-1 win over Seah and Tan.
With the close win, Pacific Oceania earned one of the two promotional slots in Group I. Uzbekistan took the second berth as it eased past No. 4 seed and No. 56 Indonesia in the other pairing, 3-0. Pacific Oceania and Uzbekistan will be joining powerhouse South Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan, China, Hong Kong, and either Japan or Thailand in the Group I competition next year. Japan and Thailand made it to the finals of the Group I contest being held in India and the winner will be promoted to the World Group II playoffs, while the loser will remain in the Asia/Oceania Zone.
Pacific Oceania moved a step away from advancing to Group I of the 2018 Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone after sweeping the elimination round (Pool C). Carol and company capped their perfect record (9-0) in Pool play with a victory over No. 3 seed and world No. 55 Malaysia last Friday. Carruthers and Tere-Apisah posted contrasting wins in the singles matches with the former pulling off a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5) triumph over Theiviya Selvarajoo and the latter coasting past Suhana Sofia, 6-2, 6-0, to seal the deal for Pacific Oceania. In the doubles, Carruthers and Tere-Apisah also needed only two wins to beat Jawairish Noordin and Sofia, 6-4, 6-2.
Besides downing Malaysia, the Gilles de Gouy-captained Pacific Oceania also shut down Iran and Oman in Pool C with Lee playing in two singles matches and winning both by nearly blanking her two opponents. The CNMI player gave up only a point in her sweep against Kimiya Asbaghipour and then showed no mercy to Oman’s Maryam Al Balushi, 6-0, 6-0, in her second singles assignment.
With Lee and her two teammates topping Pool C and making it all the way to the promotional round, Pacific Oceania will be playing in Group I for the third time. The squad, which first played in the Fed Cup, was promoted to Group I in 1999 and returned to the select group in 2001. Last year in Tajikistan, Carol, Carruthers, Tere-Apisah, and New Caledonia’s Mayka Zima defeated Singapore, 3-0, to keep their spot in Group II.