Crucial win for New Zealand over Chinese Taipei in Billie Jean King Cup

Friday, 12 April 2024

New Zealand has confirmed its status in Asia Oceania Group I of the Billie Jean King Cup for next year, thanks to a 2-1 win over Chinese Taipei on Friday.

The victory means New Zealand has avoided finishing in the bottom two of the six-nation group in Changsha, China, regardless of the result of Saturday’s tie against India.

Following losses to China and South Korea and a win over Pacific Oceania, this was a huge tie for the Matt Hair-coached New Zealand team and to come through it took an impressive team effort.

The tie against Chinese Taipei was sealed by the 6-1 6-1 win in the doubles by Erin Routliffe and Paige Hourigan against Chan Hau-Ching and Jiang En Shuo, with the Kiwi team never looking like dropping this match, as they used their superior doubles skills for the win in just 62 minutes.

In the first match of the day, Valentina Ivanov was able to push Chinese Taipei’s Joanna Garland and did serve for the opening set, but ended up losing 7-5 6-2.

That result put pressure on Lulu Sun to get a win in the next singles match. 

Ranked 169 in the world, compared to Yang, who is at 215, the Kiwi was the favourite to get the win. But playing for your country can do funny things to players and rankings have less relevance. 

Yet Sun came through with her best performance of the week to win 6-1 6-2 in 68 minutes and set up Routliffe and Hourigan for the doubles match, which they won with ease.

This means it will be Pacific Oceania and Chinese Taipei dropping down to Asia/ Oceania World Group II, while nine countries will battle it out in Malaysia in July for the two promotion spots.

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