London | BJK Cup Group I round-up – 7 nations advance to Play-offs

The Group I stage of the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge held last week have determined which 7 nations will contest November’s Play-offs with the losing 8 Qualifiers from this weekend’s play around the globe.

Hungary and Sweden successfully topped their respective Pools at the Europe/Africa event in Antalya, Türkiye, and will advance to the Play-offs where they will be one win away from featuring in the 2024 Qualifiers.

Hungary, who reached the Play-offs last year only to succumb to Romania, rounded off their pool-stage campaign with a 3-0 victory over Netherlands.

Impressive duo Dalmi Galfi & Anna Bondar triumphed in singles before teaming up to great effect in the doubles.

Sweden, meanwhile, dispatched Serbia in a crunch encounter to guarantee their top spot in Pool B, with the Scandinavians surging into a 2-0 lead following singles wins for Caijsa Wilda Hennemann and Rebecca Peterson, both in 3 sets.

The two nations met to determine final positions at the Group I event, with Sweden winning 2-1, coming from a rubber down after Hungary’s Natalia Szabanin got past Jacqueline Cabaj Awad, 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Sweden’s Kajsa Rinaldo Persson levelled proceedings, though, when she defeated Reka Luca Jani, 7-5 6-4, to take the tie into the decisive doubles, in which Cabaj Awad & Persson stormed past Jani & Amarissa Kiara Toth, 6-2 6-2.

With 3 teams from Europe/Africa advancing to the Play-offs, the Netherlands and Serbia had to play each other to determine which nation secures the much-coveted final spot, and it was the nerveless Dutch who advanced when Suzan Lamens & Demi Schuurs beat Serbia’s Olga Danilovic & Katarina Kozarov in a decisive doubles showdown.

The clash between Netherlands and Serbia went the distance, with Lamens striking an early blow for the Dutch by defeating Lola Radivojevic, 7-6(4) 6-0, only for Danilovic to hit back for Serbia when the 22-year-old saw off Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, 6-2 7-6(5).

Ultimately, after a week of action, it all came down to the doubles, with Lamens & Schuurs standing tall for their nation and prevailing, 7-5 7-6(3).

Meanwhile, in the Americas played at the Tennis Golf Club in Cucuta, Colombia, Argentina and hosts Colombia advanced out of the single Pool, which also included Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and Peru.

A late highlight of the week’s play came when teenager Lucciana Perez Alarcon proved an inspirational figure as Peru defeated Bolivia to chalk up their first Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge victory of 2023, and reignite their Americas Group I campaign

The 17-year-old set Peru on their way with a 6-0 6-1 defeat of Catalina Padilla Udaeta in the opening singles clash, returning to great effect in the doubles after Noelia Zeballos Melgar had levelled matters with victory over Anastasia Iamachkine.

With the outcome of the tie resting on the doubles, Perez Alarcon, who earlier this year received an ITF-administered Grand Slam Player Development Programme grant, joined forces with Iamachkine to overpower Natalia Trigosso and Zeballos Melgar, 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere in Group I, the Asia/Oceania nations playing at the Olympic Tennis School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, resulted in Japan and China, PR, advancing to the Play-offs from their Pool of 6 teams, which also included India, Korea Rep, Thailand and hosts Uzbekistan.

The Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Play-offs will take place on 10-11 or 11-12 November 2023, and will consist of 8 ties played on a home-and-away basis, all of which will be played as best-of-five matches (four singles followed by doubles).

Winning nations will compete in the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers in 2024, while the losing nations will compete at their regional Group I events in 2024.



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