Indian players would not care for the reputation of higher-ranked Latvians and play fearless brand of tennis, captain Vishal Uppal said on Friday, confident that they can topple their formidable opponents in their upcoming Billi Jean King Cup tie. The Indian women players travel to Latvia for the World Group Play-offs tie, to be played on the indoor courts of National Tennis Centre Lielupe in Jurmala from April 16.
The hosts are fielding their top players including world number 47 Anstasija Sevastova, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (ranked 53), Diana Marcinkevica (ranked 274) and Daniela Vismane (492). The Latvian team, to be captained by Adrians Zguns, also has inexperienced Patricija Spaka. "We are not only excited, we are hungry to do well. We can only gain, we have nothing to lose from this tie," Uppal said at a press conference on the eve of team's departure.
"They have players inside top-50, so pressure will be on them to beat us. We are not playing reputation but players, we will play hard." The Indian team will reach Latvia on Saturday and spend 24 hours in quarantine before hitting the courts from Monday. Asked about the approach the team will adopt, considering their superior rivals, Uppal oozed confidence. "That's why upsets happen. We want to make an impression. It's a huge moment for Indian women's tennis. We have never reached the Play-off stage before, we are all pumped up."
The Indian team will be led by Ankita Raina, the country's best singles player ranked 165. The other members are seasoned Sania Mirza, Karman Kaur Thandi (637), who has a big game and is making a come back from an injury, Rutuja Bhosale (420) and debutant Zeel Desai (568). "I am spoilt for choices. I can nominate anyone. It would depend on whose game is best suited for the conditions," said Uppal.
The tie will be played indoors. Rutuja said she plays her best tennis competing in Billie Jean King Cup, previously known as Fed Cup. "It's a dream of every player to play for country with that national flag on the jersey. I am looking forward to the tie. I like playing indoors, I just have to see if it is slow indoor courts, or fast," she said. Coach Radhika Tulpule said the players have worked hard for the tie and will present a good fight.