Upping the ante in women’s tennis

(Seated from left) ITF referee Nitin Kannamwar, Mirzan, 2019 Fed Cup tournament chairman and LTAM vice-president Datuk Salahuddin Ahmad Kamal as well as tournament director and LTAM honorary secretary Mohamad Rahizam Abd Rahim with Team Malaysia players and head coach S. Selvarajoo.

THE best players from seven countries around the region are in Kuala Lumpur to compete in the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas in the Asia/Oceania Group II with a place in Group I up for grabs.

The tournament, which ends on Saturday, is being held at the Jalan Duta National Tennis Centre and is organised by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM).

Teams of between four and six players, representing Uzbekistan (ranked 47), Hong Kong (ranked 50), New Zealand (ranked 72), Pakistan (ranked 80), Turkmenistan (ranked 98) and unranked Bangladesh, will join hosts Malaysia (ranked 67) in a bid to win a single place in Group I in the Asia/Oceania region.

“It is an honour to host the world’s premier female tennis tournament here in Kuala Lumpur.

“With some of the world’s top players, I anticipate some high quality and exciting tennis,” said LTAM president Mirzan Mahathir.

The Fed Cup, set up in 1963 by the International Tennis Federation, has since become one of the cornerstones of the tennis calendar, allowing players from all around the world to represent their countries for what is usually an individual sport.

It is structured with an eight-nation World Group and an eight-nation World Group II.

The remaining countries are then divided into three regional zones depending on their location – Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa.

Promotion and relegation between World Group II and the regional zones are decided by play-off ties, with losers from the first round of World Group II matches taking on the winners of the regional zone Group I ties for a place in World Group II the following year.

The last time Malaysia played host at the same venue was in 2010.

Sabina Sharipova (ranked 171) from Uzbekistan is the Fed Cup’s highest ranked player at the tournament, followed by her teammate Nigina Abduraimova (ranked 351).

Hong Kong’s Eudice Chong (ranked 394) and New Zealander Paige Hourigan (ranked 466) make up the players in the top 500.

Third-ranked Malaysia will be hoping to light the courts on fire, and use their home advantage to cause some upsets and fight their way to a win in the round-robin tournament.

Representing Malaysia this year are Suhana Sofia Mohd Adam Das, Sharifah Elysia Wan Abdul Rahman, Sara Alisha Nayar, Sharifah Elsa Wan Abdul Rahman and Jawairah Noordin.

BNP Paribas are title sponsors of the Fed Cup, in line with the group’s long-standing global commitment to tennis.

Daily recognition in the form of a leader’s jersey for best-performing singles, doubles and tie break teams will be provided by Tie Sponsor Bounx Sport.

“Bounx Sport is proud to support Tennis Malaysia and the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas in Kuala Lumpur. Our aim is to create fresh energy and inspiration together with BNP Paribas and LTAM.

“It will definitely be an exciting tournament,” said Bounx Sport founder and chief executive officer Julian R. Ellison.

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