17 Jul 2017

Sport: Pacific Oceania talk up Fed Cup promotion hopes

4:48 pm on 17 July 2017

The Pacific Oceania women's tennis team believe it is a case of third-time lucky in their bid for Fed Cup promotion.

The composite team finished fifth and sixth in Asia/Oceania Zone Group Two over the past two years.

Samoa's Steffi Carruthers, Papua New Guinea's Abigail Tere-Apisah and Mayka Zima from Tahiti are back for another tilt at top spot, with Carol Lee from the Northern Marianas the new face, after impressing in the junior ranks.

Steffi Carruthers in action for Pacific Oceania.

Steffi Carruthers playing for Pacific Oceania in 2016. Photo: Supplied

Pacific Oceania are one of 13 teams competing on hardcourts this week in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for a shot at promotion to level one.

Team captain Patrice Cotti said they had a real chance.

"We were pretty close to finishing in the top four (last year) and because we lost two games - if we won these two games we were in the semi finals," he said.

"This year I think Abby is better than last year, Steffi is maybe better or at the same level, we have Mayka and Carol at a good level and I think this year the first step is to be in the semi final.

"And after if you are in the semi final you have to go in the final and in the final you want to be promoted."

Papua New Guinea's Abigail Tere-Apisah receives instructions during her singles match.

Abigail Tere-Apisah speaks with Patrice Cotti during a singles tie in 2016. Photo: Supplied

Patrice Cotti said the current Fed Cup line up is probably the strongest it had ever been, with Carol Lee fresh from victories on the Junior ITF circuit and Abigail Tere-Apisah reaching a career-best 365 in the world singles rankings.

"She's now in the top 400 in the world so it's amazing and I think she can improve too and she wants to be better and she will be better," he said.

"Steffi is young too and playing in many tournaments since many years and she has the experience.

"For Mayka it's different because she lives in Tahiti but I know her very well because I'm training her sometimes during the year.

"She loved her experience last year in Thailand and when she saw how Steffi and Abby was playing she wanted to be better and I think she's better now than last year."

Meanwhile, the men's Davis Cup gets underway today in Sri Lanka.

Nine teams are vying for two promotion places from Asia/Oceania Zone Group Three.

The Pacific Oceania line-up of Heve Kelley from Tahiti, Vanuatu's Aymeric Mara, Brett Baudinet of the Cook Islands and newcomer Colin Sinclair from the CNMI have been drawn in the Pool A along with Sri Lanka, Syria and Jordan.

Tahiti's Heve Kelley representing Pacific Oceania in the Davis Cup in Bahrain.

Tahiti's Heve Kelley representing Pacific Oceania in the Davis Cup in Bahrain. Photo: Supplied