By Yuri Karpenko
At the before-match press conference, the captain of the Belarusian squad, Sergey Teterin, noted that his trainees would only be content with victory. He also emphasised that the overall success of the match against Estonia would depend on each player’s efforts. Initially, the result of this tournament seemed a foregone conclusion, among experts and fans, as the difference in each team’s level of skill (and ranking) was too great. Without Estonian leader Kaia Kanepi (seeded 16th) the smallest hopes of the Estonian fans vanished. Even Estonian team captain Andrey Luzgin, while noting that his girls were in good spirits, admitted that their main target was to keep themselves in play as long as possible. Alas, they barely managed a flicker of dynamism, even at the very beginning.
The leader of the Belarusian women’s team, Victoria Azarenko, recently triumphed at the WTA tournament; for the first time in her career, she is seeded fifth worldwide. She opened the tournament against Estonia by playing 15 year old Anett Kontaveit, easily defeating her. However, all the players on the Belarusian team showed their worth: Olga Govortsova, Darya Kustova and Tatiana Puchek. Not one single set was lost.
Summing up the match results, Sergey Teterin could not hide his delight, saying, “Despite the difference in standard, they did not lose concentration and kept their advantage. Our team is aiming to reach a new level, proving its capabilities among the elite of world tennis.”
Belarus is now ranked 13th worldwide following its victory over Estonia. Slovenia is now also in World Group II — after crushing Canada 3:2, while Switzerland has defeated Sweden 4:1. One more member of World Group II will be defined after the Japan-Argentina match, to be held in July. Next season, the national teams of Spain, Germany, Serbia and Ukraine will also perform in this group. The draw will settle the next opponent for the Belarusian national women’s tennis team, with matches scheduled for February 2012.