India's top ranked singles player Ankita Raina says India's performance at the Fed Cup has been an unforgettable week and that she was delighted to be part of the historic event for her country. This is the first time that India has qualified for the Fed Cup play-offs in the history of the tournament.
The Indians finished second in the Asia Oceania Group I event in Dubai and will now play Latvia in April in the play-offs. Speaking to Sportstar, Raina commented, "It took Indian women’s tennis 30 years to make the breakthrough and play the World Group play-off.
It has taken only eight years for Ankita Raina. This should boost Indian women’s tennis. It is a big inspiration for everyone and should give the girls belief. Winning Fed Cup is a completely different feeling than the pro tour, because no matter how good you are, you cannot win if you are not good as a team and don’t come together as a team!
You can be top 50, but if you don’t have two or three more good players from your country, it is tough." Ranked No. 163 in the world, Raina played an instrumental role in the event, winning three deciding doubles rubbers with former World No.
1 doubles player Sania Mirza, who was playing in the Fed Cup for the first time in four years. "The emotions I have felt this time is new for me. It has given me so much more confidence and strengthened my self belief. Every time I went for Fed Cup, I was eagerly waiting for that day when we would qualify for World Group stage.
It has taken a lot of time, waiting and patience. For me personally, it was a great example of pushing my limits much more than ever before, as I was playing two matches within half an hour. So playing a singles three-setter and then playing a doubles three-setter definitely showed how much you can challenge yourself physically.
For this, I really want to give credit to my trainer, physios and coach, who have been helping me to get this strong. Also, the recovery routine I did worked well for me. I was very surprised because finishing at 12.30 at night, dinner and going through recovery routine, it was like 3 a.m.
when you hit the bed. I hardly slept for five hours, because I have a habit of waking up early. So, I thought that there would be soreness or heaviness, or just general feeling of being tired. But, no. I came out and played the most crucial matches and we won.
What I have learnt from this one week, it is really amazing." The 27 year old from Gujarat says the entire team should get applauded for the win, as everyone played a crucial role in the outcome. "Our captain Vishaal Uppal did a phenomenal job of getting the team together and making sure we were there supporting each other.
Coach Ankita Bhambri madam and physio Anand Dubey sir were helpful and also led our cheering squad. Riya Bhatia and Sowjanya Bavisetti kept the atmosphere positive throughout and were always ready to help in practice. It was great that Rutuja and me were part of this historic moment.
We both have played Fed Cup earlier, together and at different times. It was such a special moment that India qualified this time, when we both were together."