CNMI junior player Carol Lee was tested in her debut in the 2017 Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II and survived after pulling off a three-set victory against Iran last Wednesday at the Dushanbe Central Stadium in Tajikistan.
Lee and her doubles partner Mayka Zima of New Caledonia bowed to Iran’s Ghazal Pakbaten and Sadaf Sadeghvaziri in the first set, 2-6, but stole the win after sweeping the last two, 6-3, 6-2, to complete Pacific Oceania’s shutout victory in their Pool B opening assignment.
“Mayka and I just met for the first time. We didn’t know about each other’s game so we’re making a lot of unforced errors. We don’t know when it was our turn to hit the ball, if it’s mine or her’s. We had to work hard on our communication,” Lee told Saipan Tribune.
The CNMI-New Caledonia pair committed three double faults in the first set, got only three second serve points against the six of the Iranian duo, and won only one break point.
“In the second set, we started to communicate more, still staying positive, and hit less unforced errors. We also played aggressively and poached a lot. After winning the second set, we knew we have a good chance to win the third set, too,” said Lee.
The Pacific Oceania pair still had three double faults, but their foes had seven in the second set. Lee and Zima also prevailed in the first serve percentage (56 to 48), second serve (76-63), second serve points won (76-63), and break points (100-33). The winning duo went on to dominate their Iranian opponents in the third set to complete the come-from-behind victory in the nearly two-hour match—the longest in the Pacific Oceania-Iran pairing.
“I am happy with how I performed in the doubles game, representing Pacific Oceania. I also feel that if we will play Iran again, we could beat them in two sets because my partner and I somehow are now comfortable with playing together,” said the 15-year-old Lee.
Lee and Zima partnered anew in their game against Hong Kong’s Katherine Ip and Kwan Yau Ng last night and were ahead in the first set, 4-3. Final results of the doubles match were unavailable at press time, but Hong Kong had already secured the victory after Eudice Chong and Ling Zhang defeated Steffi Carruthers of Samoa, 7-5, 6-3, and Abigail Tere-Apisah of Papua New Guinea, 6-4, 6-4, in the earlier singles events.
Hong Kong will advance to the semifinals along with the top finishers in three other groups, while Pacific Oceania will play in the ranking games that will determine the No. 5 to 13 placers in the tournament. The champion of the competition will be promoted to Group I.