Veteran player Sania Mirza and the country’s best singles player Ankita Raina will lead India in the next month’s Billie Jean King Cup World Group Play-offs away tie against Latvia as the AITA named a five member team on Tuesday for the tournament.
The five-member team also has Karman Kaur Thandi, young Zeel Desai, who is making steady progress, and Rutuja Bhosale. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee picked the team after a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Riya Bhatia, who was a playing member last year, will be the reserve player of the team, which will be captained by Vishal Uppal. The two-day away tie will be played from April 16 on the indoor hard courts at the National Tennis Centre, Lielupe, Jurmala.
India had qualified for the World Group Play-offs for the first time after finishing second in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, held in Dubai in March 2020 while Latvia lost 2-3 to USA in their group.
The tie will be a tough test for the Indians as Latvia are expected to be led by former French Open champion and world number 53 Jelena Ostapenko along with 2018 US Open semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova, who is ranked 56 now but was placed 11th in February 2018.
They had run Serena Williams-led USA close in the Qualifiers tie last year. India’s hopes will lie on Ankita, who has a knack for punching above her weight, and seasoned Sania’s experience.
The World Group Play-offs of the tournament, previously known as Fed Cup, have been postponed twice earlier due to the corona virus pandemic.