Peangtarn ensures Thais stay in Group 1

MATCH WINNER: Peangtarn Plipuech.

Thailand edged Hong Hong 2-1 in a playoff to maintain their Group 1 status in the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone yesterday.

Peangtarn Plipuech won both singles and doubles matches to give Thailand the victory at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi.

It was all up to Peangtarn to save the tie after Patcharin Cheapchandej lost to Chong Eudice Wong 3-6, 3-6 in the opening singles.

Peangtarn kept Thailand in the tie with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Zhang Ling before she teamed up with Nicha Lertpitaksinchai to beat Chong and Zhang Lin in the decisive doubles 6-3, 6-1.

Hong Kong were relegated to next year’s Group 2 and were joined by Taiwan, who lost to India 2-0 in the other relegation play-off.

Pool B champions Japan beat Pool A winners Kazakhstan 2-1 to earn a spot in the World Group II play-offs in April. China beat South Korea to claim third place in Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1.

“I didn’t think I would play both singles and doubles matches today but I did my best,” said Peangtarn, adding that she felt no pressure despite Pacharin’s loss in the first match.

“I didn’t feel like I was under pressure or anything. Because every time I play I try to give my best and help the team as much as possible. And today I’m very happy I managed to do that.”

Luksika Kumkhum, who did not play yesterday, was delighted that Thailand managed to avoid relegation.

“I’m glad we’re still in Group 1. If I still have my place in the team next year, I will definitely do my best,” she said.

Captain Vittaya Samrej said he never lost hope even after Patcharin’s loss in the first singles.

“At that point I still believed we were capable of beating Hong Kong. Everyone in the team was determined to win this tie and I have to give credit to all the players for fighting so hard and keeping Thailand in Group 1,” said Vittaya.

Kitsombat Euammongkol, president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand (LTAT), also praised the team for their brave performance.

“I have to commend all the players for fighting hard in every match. There were no easy ties these past few days and everyone in the team had to fight all the way every single day. They all worked hard to keep Thailand in Group 1,” said Kitsombat.

The LTAT boss said the association’s next big assignment is the Asian Games in Indonesia.

“The problem with the Asian Games preparations is that it will be held around the same time as the US Open. We will have to wait and see how many Thai players will play there and what their schedule will be,” he said.