Tallinn | Britain through to Promotional Play-off
Great Britain, Japan, Latvia and Paraguay have qualified for the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs on 21-22 April after winning their Zone Group I promotion play-offs on Saturday.
Heather Watson and Johanna Konta gave the Brits the two points they required to beat Hungary who had advanced to the play-off of the round-robin group winning teams by beating Croatia last Friday.
The victory means Anne Keothavong’s side are one step away from the tournament’s elite for the fourth time in the last seven years.
The team has fallen short on the previous three occasions, losing away ties to Sweden in 2012, Argentina the following year and Romania last year, when Ilie Nastase’s shocking behaviour overshadowed a 3-2 victory for the hosts in Constanta.
Their opponents will be one of the losing teams from this weekend’s World Group II first-round ties.
The primary hope for Keothavong’s side will be that they are drawn to play at home, having not done so since 1993.
The Brits have been favourites in all the rubbers they have played in Tallinn, with the clash between Konta and Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on Friday the only one where there appeared any real danger.
Watson found 19-year-old Dalma Galfi, ranked 265, a step up from her previous opponents and had to come from a set down to win the opening rubber 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Konta was up against another 19-year-old in Fanny Stollar, ranked 209, and, although the world No 11 did not have things all her own way, she ultimately eased to a 6-3 6-1 victory to seal victory for Britain.
Earlier, Jelena Ostapenko, the French Open champion, provided the impetus Latvia required to defeat Serbia, who advanced together with Britain last year.
Victory in the decisive doubles rubber saw Japan through to the World Group II play-offs at the expense of Kazakhstan in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.
Japanese No. 2 Kurumi Nara defeated Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-4 in the opening rubber of the promotion play-off at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi but Kazakh No. 1 Yulia Putintseva levelled the score with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over Nao Hibino.
The tie was decided in the doubles rubber between Diyas and Putintseva against Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya, with the Japanese duo’s doubles prowess shining through against higher-ranked opponents. Kato and Ninomiya prevailed 6-4 7-5.
Paraguay earned a place in the World Group II play-offs for the second time in their history after defeating Brazil in Americas Zone Group I.
Veronica Cepede’s 6-7(2) 7-5 7-6(9) win over Beatriz Haddad Maia sealed the tie for Paraguay after Montserrat Gonzalez earlier eased past Brazilian Nathaly Kurata 6-1 6-3.
The draw for the World Group II play-offs will take place at the ITF office in London on Tuesday 13 February at 10am GMT.