Thu, 10 Jul 2003

RI looks to exploit court advantage in Fed Cup tie against Germany

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian women's tennis team is looking to try and exploit the advantage of playing on a hardcourt when it hosts Germany in the play-offs for the Fed Cup competition next week.

The tie will be played from July 19 to 20 at the Senayan Tennis Stadium, which has turned its court from a flexy-pave clay court to a hardcourt.

Two of the team's ace players, Angelique Widjaja and Wynne Prakusya, both fresh from their Wimbledon outing, tried out the court on Tuesday, seemingly eager to capitalize on the German's unfamiliarity with the surface.

Sandy Gumulya and Septi Mende are also in the line-up, but the two juniors, who have just come back from their triumphant outing in Australia, will certainly be watching from the bench as reserves.

The conversion of the court surface, which was prompted by the players, is apparently an attempt by the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) to make the best of hosting the tie.

"I have grown up on hardcourts... So, Pelti's decision to use that type is to our advantage," said Angie, as the 18-year-old is popularly known.

She said that the team would have to concentrate on readjusting to the court, though, given that their last hardcourt play was back in March in a Miami tournament.

"At the moment, we are concentrating on familiarizing ourselves with the court, as the surface results in a typically fast bounce of the ball. European players are more familiar with grass or clay, which have different a bounce," said Angie.

Angie, ranked 70th by the World Tennis Association (WTA), was stopped in the second round at Wimbledon. However, teaming up with Maria Vento-Kabchi, she managed to get as far as the quarterfinals.

Wynne, who is ranked 133rd, talked about her conversation with Barbara Rittner, a German team member, who revealed her dislike for hardcourts.

"I once met Barbara Rittner, who will be in the German team playing here. She was constantly asking about the type of court used in the play-off matches.

"She said that we (Indonesia) would be stupid if we played them on clay."

Indonesia has been awarded a berth in the play-offs after finishing as one of the two best teams at a regional tournament in Japan in April. The other Asian representative in the play- offs is Japan, which will face Sweden on the same dates.

Germany, a two-time champion, has been consigned to the play- offs after losing to Slovakia in the quarterfinals of the World Group.

While seeking to take advantage of having the court of their choice, Wynne said the Indonesian team will also bank on home crowd support.

"I hope people will turn up at the games to support us. Home crowds can play a big role in us winning," said Wynne, whose singles run at Wimbledon fell short of reaching the main draw.

The German team will include Marlene Weingartner (WTA ranking 63), Barbara Rittner (89), Martina Muller (177) and Anca Barna (240).