Photo: Srdjan StevanovicYuki Naito (JPN)
NEW DELHI, INDIA: Japan leads a 17-strong field of nations hoping to qualify for the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals at the Asia/Oceania Final Qualifying event on 20-25 March.
Three qualification spots are up for grabs at this week's event for a place at the Finals of the prestigious international junior team competition in Budapest, Hungary on 18-23 September.
Top seeds Japan will have high hopes of coming out on top of Final Qualifying for the Asia/Oceania region in this week’s girls’ 16 and under event, which follows on from last week's qualifying for the Junior Davis Cup competition.
Japan will be led into action by world junior No. 33 Yuki Naito and No. 66 Naho Sato, with No. 665 Himeno Sakatsume completing their team.
Sixteen-year-old Naito, who has reached the third round at each of the last two junior Grand Slams, comes into this event off the back of two doubles final appearances at junior Grade 1 events in Nonthaburi and Sarawak.
Sato, too, is also in strong form on the junior circuit. Naito’s doubles partner in Sarawak last week, she has added to their appearance in the team final by also reaching the semifinals of the singles event.
Also seeking to qualify this week are Korea, Republic, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, China, P.R., Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Pacific Oceania, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
Australia is the last team from the Asia/Oceania region to win the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title, defeating Canada 2-0 in the final in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 2011. Ashleigh Barty, who won her first WTA title last month in Kuala Lumpur, won the decisive rubber for the Australians six years ago.
Japan, while they might be favourites to qualify this week, has never won the Junior Fed Cup crown.
Draws and daily results can be found here