Ankita, Sania to lead India in Billie Jean King Cup WG Play-offs against Latvia

New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI): Country’s best singles player Ankita Raina and veteran Sania Mirza will lead India in the next month’s Billie Jean King Cup World Group Play-offs away tie against formidable 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.
Unlike the Davis Cup, where doubles is played as third match after the two singles and before the two reverse singles, in the Billie Jean King Cup format, doubles is played as the last match.
That way, Sania’s experience will count only if the other Indian players can stretch the tie to the last match. Asked why Zeel (ranked 614) was preferred over higher-ranked Riya (359), a selection committee source said recent results of the players were considered before making a decision.
“While Riya Bhatia is ranked second in India behind Ankita, the committee picked Zeel because she is in good form and has better results. Also, we are looking at future. Zeel plays solid tennis and has it in her to put rivals under pressure,” a source in the committee told PTI.
“So in a format where you have four singles matches to play, you want your best players to be in playing side. Karman also has that X factor. She has a big game and can hurt rivals.

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