China gave Pacific Oceania a rude welcome in the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, Asia/Oceania Zone Group I after clinching an early win yesterday at the National Tennis Centre indoor courts in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The heavily-favored Chinese swept the two singles game to shut the door on Pacific Oceania, which has the CNMI’s Carol Lee, Samoa’s Steffi Carruthers, and Papua New Guinea’s Abigail Tere-Apisah and Violet Apisah as members and is playing in the elite Group I for the first time after getting the promotion last season.
Apisah started things off for the Gilles De Gouy-captained Pacific Oceania and was pitted against world No. 550 Zhaoxuan Yang in the first singles match. Apisah gave Yang a good game before the Chinese eked out a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Yang leaned on her second serve to edge Apisah as the former posted 17/30 (57 percent) on second serve points won against the latter’s 7/23 (30 percent).
The second serve points won was also the deciding factor in the second singles match, which had top players from the opposing teams squaring off with No. 40 Shuai Zhang battling Tere-Apisah (No. 342). Zhang was 15-of-23, while the PNG player went only 2-for-16 with six double faults, allowing the Chinese to cruise to a 6-1, 6-2 victory and giving the No. 1 seed team the outright win in the opener.
Tere-Apisah also played in the third game in the pairing, teaming up with Carruthers in the doubles. The Pacific Oceania duo tied the match after two sets and were ahead at 2-1 in the third. Tere-Apisah and Carruthers prevailed in the opening set, 6-3, while the Chinese pair recovered in the second in similar scores. The complete results of the doubles match were unavailable at press time.
Meanwhile, Lee is hoping to play for Pacific Oceania today when they face South Korea, which is represented by Na-Lae Han, Su Jeong Jang, Sunam Jeong, and Na Ri Kim, and captain Young-Ja Choi. Then, tomorrow, Lee and company will close out the pool play against Indonesia.
Pacific Oceania needs at least one win in its last two matches to avoid an automatic relegation to Group II. A sweep of the final two games and a No.2 finish in Pool B will allow the team to stay in Group I, while a third place ranking will put the squad in a playoff game against Pool A’s No. 3. In the playoff, the winner will remain in Group I, while the loser will drop to Group II.