The Estonian women's tennis team started the Billie Jean King Cup tournament, in Portugal, with a victory over South Africa.
Estonia, coached by Märten Tamla, is in Group B of the tournament, formerly known as the Fed Cup, along with Lithuania, Georgia, Ireland, Kosovo and South Africa. The top two from the subgroup will advance, and will play-off for promotion to the next division, while the bottom two teams will move down a division.
The competition features singles and doubles matches; in the singles, Elena Malõgina (WTA 374th) decisively defeated Suzanie Pretorius 6:1, 6:0, while Anett Kontaveit (WTA 69th), overcame Isabella Kruger ( WTA 36th.), also in straight sets, 6:1, 6:2.
The result was also significant because it is Kontaveit's first competitive match since early on in the year, when a back injury forced her to stop playing.
"There are always a few nerves in any first match after a long time out, but I think I did well," the former world number two said post-match.
"Perhaps at the end there was a moment where things were more fragile, but overall things were okay. There were definitely things that I would have liked to have done better, but now it is important to get back into the swing of the game and get used to competing again. I've had a break for several months mid-season, so cannot expect the ideal right away game. I'm glad that Estonia has won a solid victory, it's definitely a positive start for us," she continued.
Kontaveit had trained on clay in Marbella before the competition in Portugal, also played on clay.
Anett Kontaveit, who was world number 2 less than a year ago but is now outside the top 60, comes back to the tour with a nice @BJKCup win:— José Morgado (@josemorgado) April 10, 2023
6-1, 6-2 over Isabella Kruger (365) to clinch the win for Estonia in this round robin tie vs. South Africa.
Nice to see her back! pic.twitter.com/2BS0wzmOzT
Meanwhile in the doubles, Maileen Nuudi and Ingrid Neel – the latter an Estonian-American who only recently started playing for her ancestral country, also won.
Coach Tamla said: "Elena started a bit nervously and didn't find a good rhythm at the beginning of the game. But after the 1:1 scoreline, she was able to find her rhythm, raise her level and definitely swing the game in her favor."
"It was Anet's first match after the injury and she was also a bit nervous at the beginning, but she was also able to firmly assert her superiority. In the doubles match, Ingrid and Maileen were able to play without tension and played a very good game," Tamla went on.
They will certainly face a harder match against Kosovo on Tuesday," she added.
So far on Tuesday, Maileen Nuudi won decisively over 18-year-old Kosovan Vesa Gjinaij, 6:0, 6:1.
Editor: Andrew Whyte