At the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II in Thailand, Hong Kong is seeded 2nd behind Indonesia and heads Pool B in the round robins consisting of Turkmenistan, Singapore, and Oman. Zhang Ling (WTA 226) will lead an inexperienced HK side against Anastasiya Prenko's (WTA 765) Turkmenistan first up on Wednesday.
Accompanying the HK contingent are Goran Bosalevski (Coach) and Yu Hiu Tung (Captain).
Top seed Indonesia, meanwhile, heads Pool A with Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan in tow.
The top finishing teams from Pool A and B shall face one another in a winner-takes-all playoff, and with it, a place in next year's Asia/Oceania Group I at stake.
In this year's Group II, Zhang Ling (WTA 226) is easily the highest-ranked player, followed by Indonesia's Lavinia Tananta (355), and Oman's Fatma Al Nabhani (386), whose year-end ranking jumped from No. 1052 in 2009 to No. 372 in 2010.
Next up are the Indonesians' Nos. 2 and 3, Jessy Rompies (433) and Ayu-Fani Damayanti (456), with Turkmenistan's 17-year-old Anastasiya Prenko (765) rounding out the list of ranked players.
Kyrgyzstan's Ksenia Palkina (WTA 241) and Bermet Duvanaeva (WTA 629), however, are not amongst the list of nominated players thus far.
Fatma Al Nabhani began 2010 with a bang, beating 108th-ranked Russian Ekaterina Bychkova in the opening round of the qualies at the WTA Dubai Open and then winning her first pro circuit title at the C10 Fujairah. At the C25 Waterloo in Canada in July, she beat American 2nd seed Lauren Albanese (WTA 260) in the semis before losing to top seed Julia Cohen (WTA 184) in three sets in the final.
The 19-year-old, whose brothers play Davis Cup for Oman, also owns four C10 doubles titles in her career.
Elsewhere in Pool A, Indonesia will be looking for a quick win against a Filipino side devoid of its big guns – Riza Zalameda and Denise Dy - on Wednesday. The current rosters of the other teams in Pool A, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, are without a ranked player.
Zhang Ling has a perfect winning record against Indo No. 1 Lavinia Tananta, having just dropped one set in four career meetings on the ITF Women's Circuit.
This is the third straight year the territory is competing in Group II following a heart-breaking Group I Relegation Playoff loss in the deciding doubles to Sania Mirza's India in 2008.
Relegated to Group II after the 2003 campaign, Hong Kong did not compete in the Fed Cup until 2006 when veteran Tong Ka Po and rookie Venise Chan collaborated to attain Group I promotion for the team.
The following year, with Zhang Ling joining Venise Chan as the starting singles players and veterans Tong Ka Po and Lam Po Kuen anchoring the doubles, Hong Kong lost only one match during the round robins and finished in a three-way tie atop Pool A with Thailand and Uzbekistan.
If not for an inferior sets won-lost ratio, which was only good enough to qualify for the 5th-6th place playoff with hosts New Zealand, Hong Kong could well have been contesting the 1st-2nd place playoff with Chinese Taipei for outright promotion to Group I.
In 1995, a Hong Kong team comprising Paulette Moreno, Willy Chan, and Jacklyn Fu placed 3rd in Asia/Oceania Group I.
In 1987, Patricia Hy and Paulette Moreno took Hong Kong to the World Group Consolation Final after successive victories against Belgium, Brazil, and Sweden before they went down against the Dutch in a deciding doubles.
For more on the Fed Cup, visit www.fedcup.com.
Related Story: Malaysia cannot find players, pulls out of Fed Cup (The Times of India, 1 Feb 2011)
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas 2011
Asia/Oceania Zone Group II
Date: Week of Jan 31, 2011
Nations: Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Oman
Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Turkmenistan
Nominations (Brackets denote current WTA singles ranking unless stated otherwise):
Zhang Ling (226), Wu Ho Ching, Katherine Ip (ITF 200), Ki Yan Tung
(Captain: Yu Hiu Tung)
Lavinia Tananta (355), Jessy Rompies (433), Ayu-Fani Damayanti (456), Yayuk Basuki (Doubles 179)
(Captain: Surya Wijaya Budi)
Zhamilia Duisheeva, Emilia Tenizbaeva, Erika Tenizbaeva, Alena Panfilous
(Captain: Ulan Akimmaliev)
Khee Yen Wee, Ming Ming Joy Chia, Stefanie Tan, Clare Fong
(Captain: Daniel Heryanta Dewandaka)
Anna Clarice Patrimonio, Anna Christine Patrimonio, Marinel Rudas, Michelle Pang
(Captain: Chris Cuarto)
Anastasiya Prenko (765), Jennet Halliyeva, Amangul Mollayeva, Ayna Ereshova
(Captain: Gulcha Byashimov)
Fatma Al Nabhani (386), Azza Al Hinai, Sarah Al Balushi, Maliha Al Awaidy
(Captain: Hadia Mustafa)
Ushna Suhail,, Sarah Mahboob Khan, Sara Mansoor, Saba Aziz
(Captain: Nosheen Ehtisham)