The Indian junior Fed Cup team has qualified for the World Group after finishing third in the Asia/Oceania Final Qualifying event following a 2-1 win over New Zealand in the Play-off, in New Delhi on Saturday.
Mahak Jain handed India 1-0 lead after a dominating 6-1, 6-1 win over Nina Paripovich.
Sathwika Sama overcame a few anxious moments before sealing the tie for India with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Valentina Ivanov.
The hosts lost the dead doubles rubber with Shivani Ingle and Sathiwka going down tamely 2-6, 3-6 to Tamara Anderson and Nina.
India lost only one group tie in the tournament, losing 0-2 to eventual champions Japan. They beat Sri Lanka (3-0), Uzbekistan (3-0), Korea (2-1) and Australia (2-0).
Acknowledging the effort of the team, AITA President Anil Khanna announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakh for the squad.
"This feat of the girls’ team has come after a stupendous show by our junior Davis Cup team. It shows the work we have been doing for the development of junior Indian tennis. I am extremely delighted for their performance and happily announce a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh for the squad working in the right direction as far as junior Indian programme goes," Khanna said.
India coach Ankita Bhambri said beating tough teams like Korea played a crucial role in the final outcome of the tournament.
"There were a lot of tough teams like Korea, and our win against Australia was unexpected. One of their girls was ranked as high as 46. We had a weaker doubles team compared to other teams. The girls showed good attitude," Bhambri said.
"From the start the goal was clear. The win of the junior Davis Cup team kept us motivated. Despite lagging behind in a few games the girls kept fighting. We increased the level of the game and upped the pace when required. The attitude of not giving it up worked well for the team," she added.
Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images