(February 5, 2014) The USA will face Italy for the fourth time in the last six years when both teams meet again in Cleveland this weekend in Fed Cup quarterfinal play.
Neither team will have its “A” team so youth will be served, especially for Team USA. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez named the team last month – Madison Keys (18), Alison Riske (23), Christina McHale (21) and Cleveland native Lauren Davi (20).
“It’s exciting to have young members, new members on the team, said Captain Fernandez to media on Wednesday in a pre-draw news conference. “Christina (McHale) is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?
“And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23. So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it’s your first time. You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses. I don’t really see any negatives. Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
“I think that’s a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it. For me’s really it’s all positive.”
“I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they’re big hitters,” said Fernandez. “They hit the ball hard and they’re aggressive. Good indoors. Probably one of their favorite surfaces.”
Team Italy who will be sporting a team of mostly first-timers are up to the challenge.
“I think will be a tough match, very talented match,” said Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti. “They are young team against, so we come here to try hard to win this match and we know that will be difficult.”
“I think it’s pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it,” Fernandez said of the US squad. “This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
“When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100. I believe we’re at 11 or 12 now. So everybody is improving and pushing each other. We’re seeing the results.
“We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it’s very positive. It’s extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.
As the lone member of the Fed Cup team with any Fed Cup experience, Christina McHale offer some advice to her teammates:
“I’ve had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I’m really excited to be back on the team.
“I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
“I mean, I think just, you know, it’s such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do. I think that’s the best advice.”
Italy beat the US in the first round of Fed Cup last year. Overall, the US has a 9-3 record versus Italy in Fed Cup play. The US has the record for the most Fed Cup titles at 17, while last year’s winners Italy have now won the cup four out of the past eight years.