T&T's Fed Cup women eked-out a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Bahamas yesterday on the opening day of the North, Central American and Caribbean Qualifying Round of the Junior Fed Cup Tournament in El Salvador, and are almost certain of advancing out of the group. Playing what could be their toughest match of the group, a confident Aalisha Alexis settled the team's nerves early by defeating Gabrielle Simms in three sets. She set the pace in the opening set with a 6-1 triumph, but was later pegged back in the second when the Bahamian stormed back to level the game at one- apiece, courtesy a 6-2 win.
But Alexis, whose form has improved tremendously over the past couple tournaments, then battled to a 6-3 win to push the TT team ahead.
However, Isabel Abraham, the front runner at the national trials to select the team a month ago, had only herself to blame for not sealing the T&T win in the second match against Peyton Anderson. And it was not because of her ability.
Abraham surrendered the first set 6-7(2) but produced a gutsy performance that saw her level the game with a 6-4 triumph. And despite a 3-0 advantage in the third set, she buckled under pressure to lose the third set 4-6.
Coach Anthony Jeremiah said yesterday he took a gamble in the doubles that followed and it paid off for them in the end. Needing to secure victory in the doubles, Jeremiah replaced Abraham, the last player to leave the courts in the singles, with the fresh legs of Keesa Lee Young. And the pair of Lee Young and Alexis was left with heads hanging after the first set, courtesy a 4-6 loss to the Bahamian team of Anderson and Perjae Major.
But they came back in the other two sets to secure the win, first prevailing 6-3 in the second set before sealing the win 10-7 in the third.
Jeremiah said he was always confident of emerging from the group which comprises Panama and Curacao, following the draw, but admitted he got a scare at the start of the opening match. "We still have two more teams to get past to come out of the group, but I am confident of getting past Panama. Against Curacao, however, I am a bit unsure," Jeremiah said.
He dismissed concerns of inexperience, saying his players have not raised this as an issue and appear to be anything but worried about it. The T&T team will today take on Panama with a win assuring them a passage to the next round.