Tennis: Fed Cup team misses out on playoffs

Nat'l team defeats Bulgaria 2-1 in 2nd Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie, but can no longer finish top of its group.

Peer Australian Open  (photo credit: AP)
Peer Australian Open
(photo credit: AP)
Israel’s Fed Cup team claimed its first victory in more than two years on Thursday, but still lost any hope of advancing to the World Group II playoffs.
The national team defeated Bulgaria 2-1 in its second Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie in Estoril, Portugal, but can no longer finish top of its group as Slovenia beat the Netherlands 2-1 on Thursday, building on its victory over Israel on Wednesday and guaranteeing its place in the next stage.
Keren Shlomo (390) was thrashed 6-0, 6-2 by Dia Evtimova (263) in Thursday’s first match, but Shahar Pe’er (22) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova (112) 7-6 (10), 6-4 to send the tie into a decisive doubles match.
Pe’er and Julia Glushko beat Pironkova and Evtimova 6-2, 7-5 in the decider and secured Israel’s first victory after five consecutive defeats in the past two years, which resulted in demotion from the World Group to the Europe/Africa Zone Group I.
Israel faces the Netherlands on Friday in a meaningless tie and will play in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I yet again next year.
“I’m happy we have avoided relegation,” Pe’er said. “I believe that the experience gained by the rest of the girls this week will help us in the future.”
The national team is playing without the retired Tzipi Obziler for the first time in many years and Pe’er believes Shlomo, Glushko and Chen Astrogo will help the team to achieve success in the future.
“Obziler and Hila Rosen tutored me when I first joined the team as a14-year-old so I understand the excitement felt by Shlomo, Glushko andAstrogo,” said Pe’er, who will play for a third straight day on Friday.
“I was expecting the tough schedule, but I’m nevertheless verytired. I hope I can continue to play well against the Netherlands.”