2014/08/01

An Interview with the US Fed Cup Team

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(April 17, 2013) The United States vie to get back into the Fed Cup World Group for 2014  as they take on Sweden in the World Group Play-offs this weekend in Delray Beach, Florida. The US team took part in a pre-draw news conference on Wednesday.

In the US, Tennis Channel will broadcast daily coverage of the tie beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Transcript courtesy of ASAPSports

April 17, 2013

Mary Joe Fernandez
Varvara Lepchenko
Sloane Stephens
Serena Williams
Venus Williams

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the U.S. Fed Cup team.

Q.  Talk a little bit about being here.  It’s a playoff tie as opposed to a tie to advance.  How does that maybe change things, or doesn’t change things.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Sandy, people have been asking me that.  It actuality doesn’t change thinking.  I mean, every time we have a Fed Cup tier we’re here to win, whether it’s in the main group or last year we had to win two to get back in the World Group, and this one we have to win to stay in it.
So we’re approaching it the same way.  You know, we’re here to get those three matches under our belt first and go from there.
Doesn’t matter what division or what the purpose is.  Objective is to win.

Q.  Mary Joe, can you talk a little bit about how you chose this team, which is a little bit different than the last team that you had?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Yeah, I mean, you always try to go by who is playing well.  You look at the rankings, the surface, the matchups.
All the players on this team have been on my teams before and they’ve all played a match, so I think that always helps.  You look a little bit for experience.
And playing at home is huge and having that proximity.  So having Serena around the corner, I’m from down here, there is a training center for the USTA in Boca, so it was great.  Sloane and sometimes Varvara spend time here as well as the training centers in New York and California.
But it’s great.  We have four players in the top 30.  There is a lot of depth on this team.

Q.  Serena and Venus, talk about having this match, as Mary Joe alluded to, at home essentially?  Not so much nationally, but literally you can sleep in your own bed at night.  Speak about the advantage of that.
VENUS WILLIAMS:  We love playing at home, of course.  So this is our third tie in Delray, and I’m sure there will be more that will come here.
It’s like awesome for us.  So, yeah, that’s about it.

Q.  Serena, anything to add?  Any key playoff games or anything to go to over the weekend?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I didn’t even think about that.  Are there any?

Q.  Theoretically.  Schedule comes out later.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Might have to look that.

Q.  Overall you guys are the heavy favorites against the Swedish team ‑ I guess we’re the ones deciding that ‑ but they have some spunk.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Definitely.

Q.  What is the scouting report for this team to be victorious this weekend?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Well, you can never overlook anyone.  We’ve been the underdogs many times and have come through with the big upset.  Fed Cup, any time you play for a team it’s different.  The pressures are different.  Someone that you expect to win might deal with the pressure differently.
And sometimes someone who plays for the country sometimes plays better than when on the tour.
It can vary.  I think we’re really aware of that and that you really have to focus and come in treating it as huge match, whether you’re the favorite or not.
We know the girls, their top two, pretty well.  They’ve had good wins.  They can play big tennis and worry you.  We just have to be solid and stick to what we do well.
Hopefully that’s going to carry us to the finish line.

Q.  Sloane, what does it mean to you to be part of this squad?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Awesome.  I mean, thanks again to Mary Joe for picking me.
But, I’m a big team player, and I love being on a team.  I’ve never lost a Fed Cup tie before, so I think…
(Knocking on wood.)
Yeah, knock on wood.  No, I’m just excited to be here.  And obviously with a great team I think it’ll be a good week.  We’ll hopefully get the W.

Q.  Question for Sloane.  There has been a lot written over the past few months about yourself in the spotlight, do you enjoy it or not.  I know you worked hard for many years to get where you are.  How do you feel about the attention you’re getting now?  Is it something you’re starting to get used to?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, it’s okay.  Yeah, it’s not that great.  But, um, I think this week I’m just here to play Fed Cup and play for my country and help the girls win.
I think all that aside, I’m just going to go out and play my best and do my best this weekend.

Q.  Sloane, what do you get out of this, working with your teammates here and the team scenario?  How do you get better this week?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think we all push each other.  Obviously playing with Venus and Serena and Varvara, we all want to make each other better.  Just being around each other it’s just a really good vibe.
We’re obviously all looking to improve, and I think it’s a great thing just to be around these girls and have a good week of practice.

Q.  Is it a significantly different feeling than during the rest of the season when everyone is out for themselves?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  You know what, I think the last few years, this new generation of players are used to practicing with each other and watching each other play.  At the Olympics Venus was out there watching Varvara’s match.  It motivates and encourages everyone.
But you’re right.  On a weekly basis you’re out for yourself and that’s a different feeling.  These weeks are unique, and that’s why everybody enjoy them so much.

Q.  Serena, Mary Joe talked about the different pressures of playing on a team.  Do you feel a different pressure playing for Team USA?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, you really want to be able to win.  I think in general I feel a little bit of pressure when I’m playing for the team because I want to be able to do really well.  You’re not just playing for yourself.  You don’t want to let your friends and your team down.

Q.  Serena, do you have a cold?  Sounding a little hoarse there.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, I don’t have a cold.

Q.  Varvara, you’re the person that’s chosen to be an American.  The others were kind of born that way.  Talk about what playing Fed Cup for the U.S. means to you?
VARVARA LEPCHENKO:  You know, it’s definitely a huge honor for me to be picked on the team like that and to be able to practice with all these girls and to be around and learning.  It’s a great learning experience is a well.
I’m just happy to be here.  I’ll try to help as much as I can to win this tie.

Q.  Mary Joe, do you have any feeling of how you’re going to do the lineup yet?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  You know me by now, Sandy.

Q.  I have to ask, though.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  We’ll know Friday morning what the lineup will be.
Thank you, everyone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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