The CNMI’s Carol Lee showed no mercy to her foe from Oman to lead Pacific Oceania to another shutout win in the 2018 Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II.
Lee pounded the hapless Maryan Al Balushi, 6-0, 6-0, in the first singles match in the Oman-Pacific Oceania pairing last Wednesday at the Bahrain Tennis Federation hard courts in Isa Town, Bahrain to set up her squad’s 3-0 victory. The sweep over Al Balushi was a fitting follow up on the CNMI junior player’s 6-1, 6-0 triumph over Iran Kimiya Asbaghipour during their second singles duel in the opening day of the competition last Tuesday.
After Lee’s domination of the first singles player of Oman, the former’s teammate Abigail Tere-Apisah of Papua New Guinea handed Pacific Oceania the outright win in the pairing after outclassing Fatma Al Nabhani. Tere-Apisah, who made it to the doubles finals of the Australian Open (Juniors) last month, labored a 7-5 (7-4) win over Al Nabhani in the opening set and then had another tough time in the second before escaping with a 7-5 triumph.
The PNG player also played in the doubles and she and Samoa’s Steffi Carruthers kept Pacific Oceania’s clean slate in Pool C after easing past Al Balushi and Asiha Al Suleimani, 6-0, 6-1.
With Pacific Oceania unbeaten after two games and holdings a 6-0 record, pending results of their game against Malaysia yesterday, Lee and her teammates boosted their playoff chances in the tournament. The top finisher in each pool after the elimination round matches will advance to the playoffs, while the finalists will be promoted to Group I in 2019.
Lee and company were slated to duel Malaysia, which came from a 3-0 victory over Iran on Day 2 of the competition. Pacific Oceania is slightly favored over Malaysia, based on the results of the former’s first two games. The No. 55 Malaysia, which is seeded third in the tournament behind No. 33 Uzbekistan and No. 48 Philippines won by only a point against Oman in its first game, 2-1.
At press time last night, Pacific Oceania had a 1-0 lead over Malaysia and was ahead in the second singles match to move closer to the semis berth. Carruthers played in the first singles match and eked out a 7-6, 7-6 win over Theivija Selvarajoo. In the second singles game, Apisah won the first set of her duel against Suhana Sofia, 6-2, and was ahead in the second, 5-0. Apisah and Carruthers were also set to play in the doubles for the Gilles De Gouy-captained Pacific Oceania.
If Pacific Oceania wins, it will face No. 1 seed and world No. 33 Uzbekistan in the semifinals. Uzbekistan swept Pool A after blanking Lebanon and New Zealand.