“I am proud of the way the team fought this week” – Captain Vishaal Uppal on the team’s performance

The Indian Billie Jean King Cup team went down 3-1 to heavyweights Latvia in the World Group Playoffs, but not without a fight. Captain Vishaal Uppal shares his thoughts on the week they’ve had in Latvia

Thoughts on the weekend

We’ve had a good week here in Latvia. I am very proud of the way the team fought this week. I don’t think a lot of people gave the team even a fighting chance, but we’ve shown that we came here with purpose and intent. If Ankita could have pulled off that first match against Ostapenko, it could have been a different story. But overall, I am proud of how we played

On things Ankita needs to do to convert these close losses to wins

She needs to become a little smarter tactically. Also, you cannot let your level drop for even a small bit, as these top players will hurt you. You have to learn to convert your opportunities. I am sure this must have been a big learning curve for her and us. Ankita is going to be much wiser from this experience

If you see the matches closely, both Ostapenko and Sevastova showed us why they are in the Top 50. Because at 4-4, 5-5, they happen to find that extra gear. Ankita, for her part, played pretty solid through that. It’s just that the quality of the Latvian girls who raised their level in important moments. And that’s something Ankita can learn by playing better players. But I am very heartened by how we’ve turned out this week

Raising the profile of women’s tennis in India

The BJK Cup has been brilliant for women’s tennis in India. It has taken 30 years to get to this level. But I am pretty sure we’ll all be working hard to ensure that it doesn’t take us another 30 years to get back here again. Look at how hard we’ve fought this week. Just the way the girls have worked hard & performed, and it shows that women’s tennis is on the upswing in India. We just need to support them in whichever way we can and give them more opportunities. In the future, we need to make sure that India is a part of the upper echelons of the BJK Cup

On his choice of playing Karman over Rutuja

I think that was the right decision to make. Ahead of the tie, our plan was to target Ostapenko. And hence we wanted to surprise Sevastova and Karman almost managed to do that in the first set. Perhaps, it was just a lack of experience that she couldn’t maintain her level. Karman had the weapons that could trouble a player like Sevastova. Karman’s only 22, she’s got a lot of learning ahead of her

On whether Ankita needs to develop weapons

She has to keep looking at how she can keep adding to her game. We spoke about adding the transition game into her repertoire. If you may have noticed today, she tried to come in and finish off a few points at the net, but missed those volleys. But things will start clicking for her. Playing a little more aggressive at times can help her too. As a tennis player, you have to continually improve. For Ankita, it’s quite important for her to stay focused and keep the pressure on the opponent. She is a very diligent worker, and I think we can see her in the Top 100 soon

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