MUSCAT, FEB 4 – Sarah al Balushi was busy watching her Omani male counterparts battle it out in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group IV tournament in Muscat. Sarah and sister Mariam al Balushi will hope to emulate the Oman men’s team, which earned a promotion to Davis Cup Group III, when they appear for Oman national women’s team in the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group II tournament in Bahrain from February 5 to 11. Oman will be making their third appearance at the Fed Cup with ace player Fatma al Nabhani leading the ranks. Sarah, Mariam and Aisha al Suleimani make the other members of the squad for the 14-nation competition.
Oman has made two Fed Cup appearances, in 2011 and 2012 and the best result so far is finishing seventh.
Talking about the Fed Cup event, Sarah said it will be tough competition.
“The Uzbek players have good singles and doubles rankings. Other teams are also good with Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Lebanon all very competitive,” she said.
Team manager Salman al Balushi said, “the women’s team will work hard to achieve some positive results. Oman tennis is on a right path after we made it to the Group III in Davis Cup.”
“Hopefully, Fatma and Sarah along with other players will pull off something remarkable apart from to trying to improve our previous best position of seventh,” Salman said.
Sarah, who has so far won only singles game in the Fed Cup, want to make that number increase this time at the Isa Town Bahrain Tennis Federation hardcourts.
“I personally want to improve my singles record. My doubles record along with Fatma is the best for us in the Fed Cup.”
“I hope to make the doubles pair with Fatma and we want to win as many as we can,” Sarah said.
Fatma is the player with most total wins in Fed Cup for Oman with nine matches. Sarah has four wins to her credit. Sarah likes Australian Open 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki in the way the Danish player has returned to the top of women’s tennis after an injury break.
“She is a hard-working professional. There is a lot for us to learn from her playing career.”
Personal skills are very important in women’s tennis, feels Sarah.
“Women’s tennis is very different from the men’s game. It’s not fast and lasts less time compared to the men’s match,” opined Sarah about the game.
“So, what I always focus is to make my serve and returns accurate thereby making most of the opportunities that come my way during the match,” Sarah said.
Sarah and Oman team had a great run in the Arab Championship in Morocco in December 2017. Oman won the gold in team and singles, while taking the bronze in the doubles. The Fed Cup tournament will be held on a round-robin basis with two pools of three teams (Pool A and B) and two pools of four teams (Pool C and D). The winners of each pool will play-off against one another (A1 v C1, B1 v D1) to determine which two nations will advance to the Asia/Oceania Group I in 2019.