The fourth-place finish in the Fed Cup, country’s best in recent years, is not desirable but captain Vishal Uppal reckons there is enough evidence to believe that depth in women’s tennis in India is getting better.
India beat Thailand but lost to hosts Kazakhstan and Korea to stay in Asia/Oceania Group I in the Fed Cup in Astana earlier this month.
Analysing India’s performance, Uppal said the “present is solid and the future is bright” for women’s tennis in the country.
“This is the highest we have finished in the past few years, which shows the girls are improving and are believing in themselves a lot more. The depth is getting better and new talent is emerging. There is a lot of healthy competition and we have a lot of girls challenging each other to get better and stay ahead of the pack,” Uppal told.
The captain said while Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi have started doing well as a doubles combination on the circuit, Rutuja Bhosale and Pranjala Yadlapalli will add value to the team both as singles players and as a doubles pair.
“Rutuja and Pranjala were missed in the team as they add a lot more depth to the squad and can share the workload a lot more. They have been developing nicely and this augurs well for the future,” Uppal said.
“The likes of Riya Bhatia, Mahak Jain and Zeel Desai will do well to keep the pressure on the girls above them by giving good performances on the professional circuit. As a team we will become an even more potent force in the Fed Cup and can mount a bigger charge towards the elusive World Group, once all our girls are fit and back in action.” he added.
The former Indian Davis Cupper and member of the junior AITA selection committee said Ankita showed leadership qualities during the tie in Astana.
“Ankita did very well. She is our No.1 player and played her heart out in every match. More importantly she showed signs of a good team leader as she was supporting everyone through their matches even though she had to prepare for her own matches. I am optimistic this girl can break into the top-100 of the world by the end of 2019,” he said.
“Karman Kaur Thandi is a talented girl. As she matures as a player and gains more experience, she will climb up the rankings quickly.”
Uppal was also impressed with reigning national champion Mahak Jain, who made her debut.
“She played a good match against her Korean opponent who was more experienced. Mahak may be small in size but she showed she had a lot of fight in her. She is only 17 and has a bright future ahead of her provided she keeps learning and growing as a player.”
Uppal said India may not have qualified for the World Group in this year’s Fed Cup, but seeing the hard work, talent and hunger of the girls he feels upbeat and excited about the future.
“What we need to do is to support the girls currently on the team and also those who are emerging and will be ready in a few years’ time. We need to ensure enough opportunities for our girls to compete at the international level and gain valuable experience,” he said.
“A robust national circuit will also prepare the supply chain of players who can be groomed into potential world beaters. Most importantly we need to have a long term vision while taking excellent care of our present.