Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina have been named to the Indian tennis squad for the Billie Jean King Cup 2022 Asia/Oceania Group I stage, which begins on April 12. While Karman Kaur Thandi and Rutuja Bhosale were retained, Zeel Desai, who was part of the squad when India lost to Latvia, was left out.
“The selection committee felt that Riya being the higher-ranked deserves an opportunity. She had missed out the last time due to COVID-19. It is a tough qualification zone. China and Japan will be the biggest threat,” former Indian tennis player Vishal Uppal, who will be the non-playing captain of the team, told PTI.
There would most likely have a camp on clay courts, to get themselves ready for the cup.
“We will see if we can get together and practice. The tournament is on clay. Our players are experienced in playing on European clay, they are familiar with the surface, but homework is needed on matching up with these countries,” Vishal Uppal added.
In the Asia/Oceania Group I stage, India will compete in a round-robin style against five other teams: China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. The top two nations will advance to the play-offs the following year.
Sania Mirza was undefeated in the group stages last season, helping India finish second and qualify for the World Group play-offs for the first time. India, on the other hand, fell 3-1 against Latvia in the playoff tie and was relegated to the zonal competition.
Sania Mirza, who will retire from professional tennis at the end of the year, will approach the Billie Jean Cup in fine shape, having reached the semi-finals of both the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Qatar Open.
Ankita Raina, who is ranked No. 339 in the world in women's singles, will try to regain her touch before the competition starts in April.
Squad: Sania Mirza, Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Riya Bhatia
Captain (non-playing): Vishal Uppal
Coach: Shalini Thakur