2014/07/30

Serena and Venus Williams Win to Wrap Up Fed Cup World Group Spot for the U.S.

 

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

By Nathalie Narcisse

(April 21, 2013) DELRAY BEACH, Florida – On a day where tennis legend Chris Evert was lauded for Federation Cup accomplishments, it was fitting that dynamic duo, Serena and Venus Williams carried their matches to prevent the U.S. from slipping out of the world group.

In the first match at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, Serena crushed Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 while Venus hung tough against Johanna Larsson 6-3,7-5 to permit the Americans to compete for the Federation Cup title in 2014.

After Serena’s victory Saturday evening placed the U.S. on even terms with Sweden, captain Mary Joe Fernandez was hoping to maintain the momentum. The world number one did not disappoint.

In the early stages of the opening set, the sun seemed to be Serena’s biggest nemesis. She fought off three break points before finally putting a period on a long third game.

Subsequently, Serena manufactured triple break point and capitalized for 3-1. Then, with an ace, the world number one consolidated for 4-1. Serena went on to break Arvidsson a second time to bed the initial set.

Serena captured seven consecutive games before Arvidsson ultimately held in the sixth game of the second set to avoid posting a bagel. However, it was only a temporary reprieve. Soon, with her tenth ace, Serena arrived at triple match point. The world number one finished the proceedings with an unreturnable serve.

Overall a good performance by Serena considering the match lasted only 57 minutes, with 35 winners and 22 unforced errors. The third game in the first set was critical. Serena stated “if she had won that game, it would have been a tougher score or a different match. It was important for me to stay focused and fight for every point”.

While Serena does not use on court coaching with her WTA matches, she appreciates the support when it comes to team competition “it feels good, it’s different when you do call your coach on court. . .I take everything in, I just try to be like a sponge and listen”.

Since the sun was bothersome for both players, Arvidsson emphasized it was not a factor in her defeat “[Serena] was just too good. She showed why she’s number one”.

Serena was glad to see big sister in the position to seal the tie for the U.S. “Venus is a veteran and a great player. I hope she does really well”.

According to Fernandez, Venus was a “last minute decision . . after the warm-up today”, the gamble paid off.

Subsequent to a double fault to donate the opening game to Larsson, Venus regained her footing by promptly breaking herself. Later on, the American struck a forehand down the line winner up triple break point to capture he third successive game for 3-1. Despite being challenged, Venus consolidated for 4-1 and maintained the one break edge to finish off the first set.

Larsson warded off 0-40 to ultimately guard serve for 3-2 in the second set. Yet, with Larsson’s forehand pass landing long, Venus had her fifth break chance of the set. She converted when the Swede flubbed a backhand.

Soon with a hold at love, Venus raced to a 5-3 lead. However, with a love game of her own, the Swede forced Venus to serve out the match.

With a third double fault in the tenth game at 0-40, Venus opened the door for Larsson as the second set was now at 5 all.

Still, the American plugged away to regain the advantage. Serving for the tie the second time around, Venus went to nine deuces, had four double faults, salvaged three break points before striking gold on her eighth match point.

This was the maiden meeting between Venus and Larsson. The Swede was not surprised by the substitution “Sofia played a really good match yesterday. . .I was prepared mentally to play Venus. . .I was struggling the whole match to find a good rhythm. . I really tried to keep fighting”.

Despite the outcome, the Swedish coach felt “it’s the best experience you can ever have. [Johanna and Sofia] can keep [their] head up and be very proud. . .go back home with a lot of experience to use the rest of the year”.

After seeing a myriad of match points evaporate, Venus expressed “I was trying to stay focused. . .the game was very competitive, we were both going for the lines and missing them closely”.

Venus had not played Fed Cup singles since 2007. Ironically, the last time was also in South Florida. Moreover, Venus had never previously clinched the tie for her nation. The American cited “it’s a different kind of pressure being on a team, you just want to do more. I wanted to be out there”.

Venus felt a sense of relief wrapping thing up in straight sets “I needed it to be over in two. Mary Joe needed it to be over in two. She was having a heart attack on the sidelines”.

Now, the Americans will wait until next season to work together again in this format. Fernandez acknowledged “that’s the hardest thing about Fed Cup, the scheduling and how long it takes between the ties. You start building a chemistry with the team, a lot of bonding and you push each other. It’s fun. . .we’re still going to be watching each other, supporting each other. . .and we’ll regroup February of next year”.

With so many niggling physical issues, Fernandez withdrew her team from the doubles match. So, USA win over Sweden by a mark of 3-2.

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Serena Williams Squares World Group Play-Off Tie versus Sweden

SerenaWilliamsWilsonPhoto

By Nathalie Narcisse

 

(April 20, 2013) DELRAY BEACH. Florida – After a three-hour setback due to showers at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, Serena Williams sauntered on court to face Swede Johanna Larsson. The world No. 1 dusted off her opponent 6-2, 6-2 to knot the tie between the two nations.

This was the first meeting between these two players. With Sofia Arvidsson vanquishing Sloane Stephens in the opening rubber, it was Williams’ job to prevent the U.S. team from going into a 2-0 hole.

Although, this was Williams’ seventh tie compared to Larsson’s thirty third, the difference though was that Williams was undefeated in Fed Cup play 11-0 and not to mention double digit majors titles.

Subsequent to Larsson’s double fault, Williams had double break point. With a crosscourt backhand winner, the American converted and swiftly consolidated for 3-0.

Despite a grueling game, Larsson guarded serve to stay one break behind at 3-1. Quickly, Williams coasted on serve to arrive at 5-2.

By provoking miscues from Larsson, Williams had double set point. With a backhand down the line winner, Williams bedded the first set.

The second set was not a cakewalk for Williams. In the opening game, the American’s mistakes on serve found her staring at 15-40. As usual, Williams selected the right serves to bail herself out of trouble. Her second time serving, Williams fended off another break point to keep her nose in front, 2-1.

While Larsson competed better, the unforced errors by Williams also began to mount. But, in the fourth game, two double faults by the Swede helped Williams to eventually get to deuce. Soon, with a forehand winner, the American had break point and later Williams pocketed the game for 3-1.

After comfortably getting to 5-2, the American captured another break to close out the match.

Considering the firepower on the American side, Swedish captain Lars-Anders Wahlgren is ecstatic with the performance of his players so far “it’s a little bit of a surprise for the Swedish team, it’s 1-1. I always believe in my girls. I was hoping for even 2-0”.

Despite the outcome, Larsson felt it was a great experience to battle a player of Williams’ caliber “it’s definitely an experience for me today. I had a lot of fun. . .I had a few chances. . When you play those players who are extremely aggressive, you really need to take your chances. . .I did my best and I was fighting the whole match”.

While for other competitors being down 0-1 in team play may cause some angst, Williams stated “I don’t feel pressure. Not this time around. . .I feel even though we didn’t win our first match, we have a really good team”.

Williams agreed that the second set was much tougher “I think she played a lot better. I think I also made more errors. She’s a really good player. She’s a professional. You can’t get on this level without being solid”.

Certainly, a different atmosphere and sensation representing yourself versus one’s country. Williams commented “I just try to fight and do the best I can. I’m here for my team. I’m here to give 100 percent”.

With Williams’ win, captain Mary Joe Fernandez was finally able to breathe “it was big for Serena to get a quick start. I thought the first match could have gone either way. Sloane had opportunities and wasn’t able to capitalize. . .conditions were tough and the rain delay sort of slowed her down because she had the momentum”.

A lot on the line tomorrow. Does Fernandez believe that Stephens will require tactical, mental support or both? Fernandez replied “every time you step on the court it’s a chance to get better and improve. When you have a few ups and down, you have to mentally get a little bit stronger. It helps when you are tactically sound and clear on what you need to do. So, I try to support and give as clear advice as I can on what I see out there and hope that works”.

The first match on Sunday afternoon will feature Williams against Arvidsson, followed by Stephens versus Larsson and will culminate with doubles play. The U.S. pair of Venus Williams and Vavara Lepchenko will collide with Larsson and Arvidsson.

Nathalie Narcisse is in Delray Beach covering the Fed Cup tie for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow her twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Arvidsson Stops Stephens to Give Sweden 1-0 Lead in World Group Play-Offs

Sofia Arvidsson

Sofia Arvidsson

By Nathalie Narcisse

(April 20, 1013) DELRAY BEACH, Florida – The U.S. took on Sweden on hardcourt at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in the World Group Play-Offs.  In the initial match on Saturday, Swedish veteran Sofia Arvidsson, playing her 48th tie, recorded her 34th singles victory.  Arvidsson prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 over twenty-year-old Sloane Stephens who was contesting her maiden live rubber.

Florida has been the United States’ Federation Cup lucky charm.  In three prior visits to the Sunshine State, 1995 versus Austria, 2005 and 2007 against Belgium, the Americans never relinquished a match.  With Floridians, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams on hand, the Stars and Stripes were viewed as runway favorites.

Stephens seemed overwhelmed from the get-go.  As a result of a slew of miscues, the American surrendered her serve in the opening game.  Arvidsson went on to consolidate for 2-0.

Later on, the Swede dropped serve at love to permit Stephens to knot the first set at 2.  Soon with a hold, Stephens had a 3-2 lead.

However, a consistent opponent and 21 unforced errors turned out to be Stephens’ undoing.  Arvidsson broke for the third time for 5-4, then went on to easily serve out the opening set.

Stephens managed to reverse the tide in the second set.  Despite permitting a 3-0 advantage to melt away, Stephens cleaned up the stats sheet with a positive ratio of winners to unforced errors.  The American broke her rival at 5-4 to push the match into a final set.

The hot and humid conditions permitted both players to invoke the heat rule.  During that respite, a light drizzle came down which further postponed the deciding set.

The interlude appeared to squash Stephens’ momentum.  By committing a double fault, the American gifted Arvidsson double break point to start the set.  With Stephens dumping a forehand into the net, Arvidsson captured the break.  The Swede secured the four consecutive games as Stephens littered the court with mistakes.

In the sixth game, as Stephens’ forehand volley landed on her side of the net,  Arvidsson sealed her third break of the set to convert on her fourth match point opportunity.

Head-to-head, Arvidsson and Stephens split their two previous matches.  Unlike Brisbane earlier this year where Stephens “was dictating the points”, Arvidsson stated. “I tried to be aggressive.  That’s when I won my points”.

The rain was welcomed by Arvidsson “first set was really hard, I was kind of tired in the second.  I think the break was good for me.  It was a little cooler when we came out”.

For Arvidsson the opening match was crucial “first match is always important.  You want to win and put a lot of pressure on the other team.  [Particularly] with Serena a very big favorite in the second match”.

Stephens was disappointed with the result “she played really good tennis.  It was definitely tough conditions.  I thought I played pretty well.  It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get my first Fed Cup live rubber win at this home tie”.

Stephens admitted the pressure was not being the “lead off match.  I think it was playing my first live rubber at home. . .this is the most pressure and anxiety I’ve had since Australia. . .I didn’t want to let my team down”.

Still Stephens is trying to be positive “I’m going to go out for my team, hope Serena wins her match and we can start up with a bang tomorrow again. . . A lot to learn. . .my next tie I’ll definitely know what to expect”.

This is the fifth showdown between these two countries, the U.S. lead Sweden 3-1.  The latter triumphed at their ultimate meeting in 1988.  Sweden is vying to regain world group status for the first time since 2003.

Nathalie Narcisse is in Delray Beach covering the Fed Cup tie for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow her twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Order of Play Set for US versus Sweden in Fed Cup World Group Play-off Tie

FEDCUPUSA

(April 19, 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 opening day of play in the best-of-five match series features each country’s No. 1 singles player against the No. 2 player from the opposing country. The exact order of play was determined at Friday’s Draw Ceremony, which was held at the Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square. The second day of competition begins on Sunday with “reverse singles,” starting with each country’s No. 1 player squaring off followed by the No. 2 players and then the doubles match. Each match is best-of-three-sets.

 

DAY/LOCAL TIME MATCH PAIRING

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. Singles A: Sloane Stephens (USA) v. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)

Singles B: Serena Williams (USA) v. Johanna Larsson (SWE)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. Singles C: Serena Williams (USA) v. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)

Singles D: Sloane Stephens (USA) v. Johanna Larsson (SWE)

Doubles: Doubles Varvara Lepchenko/Venus Williams (USA) v. Sofia Arvidsson/Johanna Larsson (SWE)

Tennis Channel will air daily coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

 

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Tennis Channel to Air US – Sweden Fed Cup Tie This Weekend

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LOS ANGELES, April18, 2013 – Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s playoff competition against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla., this weekend, with telecasts Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21. The United States must defeat Sweden to qualify for the 2014 Fed Cup tournament. Fifteen-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will join her sister Venus, Sloane Stephens and Varvara Lepchenko as they fight for a spot in next year’s Fed Cup tournament after losing their first-round match in this year’s event to Italy in February.

 

The battle between the United States and Sweden will consist of two singles matches Saturday, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The network will also offer same-day delayed coverage of this weekend’s Fed Cup semifinal between defending-champion Czech Republic and Italy.

 

Coverage from Delray Beach Tennis Center in Florida and Circolo del Tennis Palermo in Italy is as follows (subject to change):

 

Saturday, April 20:

2 p.m. -Live Singles #1-USA vs. Sweden

4 p.m. -Live Singles #2 – USA vs. Sweden

6 p.m. -Singles #1- Italy vs. Czech Republic

8 p.m. -Singles #2 – Italy vs. Czech Republic

 

Sunday, April 21:

1p.m. -Live Singles #3-USA vs. Sweden

3 p.m. -Live Singles #4 -USA vs. Sweden

5 p.m. -Live Doubles -USA vs. Sweden

7p.m. -Singles #3- Italy vs. Czech Republic

9 p.m. -Singles #4 – Italy vs. Czech Republic

11 p.m. -Doubles – Italy vs. Czech Republic

 

The United States and Sweden have faced each other four times in Fed Cup play, with the United States holding a 3-1 advantage. However, the two nations have not met since 1988, when Sweden captured its sole victory against the United States in Melbourne. The American squad must defeat Sweden in order to compete in the 2014 Fed Cup competition. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000.

 

Retired tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, a member of the winning U.S. Fed Cup team in 1996, will lead the United States Fed Cup team for her fifth year as captain. Williams, World No. 1, won her fifteenth Grand Slam singles title at the US Open last year and holds 13 doubles titles and three Olympic doubles gold medals with her sister Venus. Rising star Stephens reached a career-high ranking of World No. 16 following an impressive run at the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Fed Cup teammate Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Lepchenko had a breakout season last year when she advanced the fourth round at the French Open and the third rounds at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

 

If Sweden wins this weekend it will qualify for a chance to play for the 2014 Fed Cup. Sweden’s team is captained by Lars-Anders Wahlgren and features Sofia Arvidsson, Johanna Larsson, Hilda Melander and Sandra Roma.

 

In addition to televising the United States and Sweden’s Fed Cup playoff this weekend, Tennis Channel will cover the 2013 Fed Cup semifinal match between reigning champions, Czech Republic, and Italy in Palermo, Italy. Although Italy has won four of its last five meetings against the Czech Republic, the two nations are tied all time at four wins apiece. The most recent competition was at the same stage of play last year, when the Czech Republic claimed a 4-1 victory over the Italian team. Tennis Channel’s coverage will consist of two singles matches on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. ET, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m.

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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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Serena Williams Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Varvara Lepchenko Named to US Fed Cup Team

FEDCUPUSA

From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 10, 2013 — The USTA and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced today that world No. 1 and 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be joined by her sister and world No. 22 Venus Williams, world No. 16 Sloane Stephens, and world No. 27 Varvara Lepchenko in representing the U.S. against Sweden in the 2013 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla., April 20-21.

 

The winner of this match will advance to the 2014 World Group and have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. The losing team will be relegated to World Group II in 2014.

 

Sweden announced yesterday that their team will consist of world No. 54 Sofia Arvidsson, world No. 65 Johanna Larsson, world No. 425 Hilda Melander, and world No. 489 Sandra Roma.

 

“I am really excited about the team that we have for this World Group Playoff,” said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “With all four women ranked in the Top 30 and Serena playing as the No. 1 player in the world, we have great talent and depth, which is a perfect combination. We are looking forward to bringing some great tennis to Delray Beach, a city that has a strong history of supporting Fed Cup, and we know we can count on the crowd to give us that home-court edge.”

 

Tickets can be purchased as two-day packages or as individual sessions. Prices for the two-day packages are $70 and $120. Prices for individual sessions are $40 and $65. Additional ticket fees apply. Tickets can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-334-USTA (8782).

 

The best-of-five match series begins on Saturday, April 20, with two singles matches and is followed by two reverse singles matches and the doubles match on Sunday, April 21. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

 

The World Group Playoff will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Sweden in Fed Cup competition with the U.S. leading the series, 3-1. The United States last played at home in Fed Cup competition during the 2012 World Group II First Round in Worcester, Mass., where the U.S. swept Belarus, 5-0, by a team that included both Serena and Venus Williams. The U.S. is 36-4 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home.

 

This will be the fourth Fed Cup tie played in Florida and the third played at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, making it the only venue to host a U.S. Fed Cup tie on three occasions. The U.S. squad has never lost a match in its three previous trips to Florida, posting 5-0 sweeps over Austria in the 1995 World Group quarterfinal in Aventura, and against Belgium in the 2005 World Group quarterfinal and the 2007 World Group quarterfinal, both in Delray Beach. Local sponsors include the City of Delray Beach, Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

 

World No. 1 Serena Williams, 31, went 4-0 in Fed Cup singles competition last year in the World Group II First Round in Worcester, Mass., and the World Group Playoff in Ukraine to propel the U.S. Fed Cup team back into the World Group this year. Williams captured her 15th Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open and won the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles with sister Venus at the 2012 Games in London. With the Olympic singles win, Williams joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam—the Olympics and the four Grand Slam events—and is the only person to accomplish the feat in singles and doubles. Williams regained the No. 1 ranking in the world on February 18, 2013, becoming the oldest woman (at age 31) to hold the top spot since the WTA computer rankings were introduced in November 1975. This was Williams’ sixth stint at No. 1 and took place nearly 11 years after she first became the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world. Williams has also been ranked No. 1 in doubles in her career and holds 21 doubles titles with sister Venus. Williams is 8-0 in Fed Cup singles play and 3-0 in doubles, and helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title.

 

Stephens, 20, is currently ranked a career-high No. 16 in the world after reaching the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. At 19 years, 10 months, 3 days old, Stephens was the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since Williams reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals at 18 years, 9 months, 8 days old. Stephens was also the first American woman other than Serena Williams or Venus Williams to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon in 2005. In 2012, Stephens reached the fourth round at the French Open, the third round at Wimbledon and the third round of the US Open. With her results in 2012, Stephens finished the year at No. 38 in the world, making her the youngest player and the only teenager in the year-end Top 50. She is the daughter of the late New England Patriots running back John Stephens and trains with the USTA Player Development Program at the USTA’s Training Center-West in Carson, Calif. She made her Fed Cup debut in the 2012 World Group Playoff in Ukraine, winning in doubles with Liezel Huber. Stephens has not competed in singles in Fed Cup.

 

World No. 22 Venus Williams, 32, reentered the Top 20 this year for the first time after revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome following the 2011 US Open. Last week, Venus faced sister Serena in the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.—their first meeting since 2009 and 24th overall meeting—with Serena prevailing, 6-1, 6-2. Venus holds an 18-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (14-2 in singles) and was a member of the title-winning team in 1999. She is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion. She ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles, and in addition to three Olympic gold medals in doubles with Serena in 2000, 2008, and 2012, Venus captured the singles gold medal in 2000. She has not played singles in Fed Cup since 2007.

 

Lepchenko, 26, is currently ranked No. 27 in the world and made her Fed Cup debut in the 2013 World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, February 9-10, where she posted singles victories o world No. 8 Sara Errani and world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. She also teamed with Huber in the fifth-and-decisive doubles match. Lepchenko is currently ranked No. 27 in the world. She peaked at a career-high No. 19 in October 2012 and reached the fourth round of the 2012 French Open—her best result at a Grand Slam event—which qualified her for the U.S. Olympic team. She also reached the third round of both the 2012 Wimbledon Championships and the US Open, losing to defending champion Samantha Stosur in Flushing Meadows. A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko has been living in the U.S. since 2001 after receiving political asylum, and she officially changed her nationality in 2007 to play for the U.S. She became an official U.S. citizen in September 2011. Lepchenko trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-East at the home of the US Open in Flushing, N.Y.

 

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition with 97 countries entering in 2013. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup or www.fedcup.com. Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Fed Cup Team.

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USTA Selects Delray Beach as Site for Fed Cup World Group Playoff Versus Sweden

usfedcupteam

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., February 26, 2013 – The USTA announced today that the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla., has been selected as the site for the 2013 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff between the United States and Sweden, April 20-21.

 

“Delray Beach has a strong history of hosting Fed Cup competition, so we know that the fans will come out to cheer on the U.S. team to victory,” said U.S. Fed Cup Team Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.  “The team fought hard on the road in the first round in Italy, so we are excited to play at home this time and take on Sweden. There is nothing like playing Fed Cup in front of a patriotic crowd.”

 

The event is being organized, staged and promoted by the USTA. Ticket information will be available at a later date.  Fans can call the U.S. Fed Cup hotline at (888) 334-8782 or visit www.usta.com/fedcup to receive the latest ticket information.  Local sponsors include the City of Delray Beach, Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

 

“Our city is proud to host Fed Cup,” said Thomas Carney, Delray Beach Mayor. “We are known for our hospitality and top-rated sports facilities. This event is a win for Fed Cup and a win for Delray Beach. Our community is excited to show the world what a great place this is.”

 

The winner of this match will advance to the 2014 World Group and have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year.  The loser will be relegated to World Group II in 2014. The U.S. fell to Italy, 3-2, in the 2013 World Group first round in Rimini, Italy, February 9-10, despite two singles victories by world No. 25 Varvara Lepchenko over world No. 8 Sara Errani and world No. 16 Roberta Vinci in Lepchenko’s Fed Cup debut.

 

The World Group Playoff will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Sweden in Fed Cup competition with the U.S. leading the series, 3-1. The two nations last faced each other in the second round of 1988 World Group competition, where the Swedes won, 2-1. The U.S. won the other three match-ups in 1966, 1975, and 1983.

 

This will be the fourth Fed Cup tie played in Florida and the third played at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, making it the only venue to host a U.S. Fed Cup tie on three occasions. The U.S. squad has never lost a match in its three previous trips to Florida, posting 5-0 sweeps over Austria in the 1995 World Group quarterfinal in Aventura, and against Belgium in the 2005 World Group quarterfinal and the 2007 World Group quarterfinal, both in Delray Beach.

 

The United States last played at home in Fed Cup competition during the 2012 World Group II First Round in Worcester, Mass., where the U.S. swept Belarus, 5-0. The U.S. is 36-4 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home.

 

The best-of-five match series begins on Saturday, April 20, with two singles matches and is followed by two reverse singles matches and the doubles match on Sunday, April 21.  This Fed Cup tie will follow the USTA Boys’ and Girls’ 12s National Spring Championships being held April 8-13 in Delray Beach. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage of the World Group Playoff.

 

The site selection is subject to final approval by the International Tennis Federation.

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Stephens Out of Fed Cup with Injury, Oudin to Replace Her

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Melanie Oudin

(February 3, 2013) U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced on Sunday that Melanie Oudin will replace Sloane Stephens on the United States Fed Cup team for the World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, February 9-10. Oudin joins Fed Cup rookies Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton as well as doubles stalwart Liezel Huber.

 

“Melanie is such a team player to answer the call at the 11th hour. She has played some of her best tennis in Fed Cup,” said Fernandez, who is in her fifth year as U.S. Fed Cup Captain. “We were excited for Sloane to make her Fed Cup singles debut, but that will have to wait for another day.”

 

Oudin, 21, was scheduled to play in the $100,000 Dow Corning Classic, a USTA Pro Circuit event in Midland, Michigan this week. She led the United States to the Fed Cup Final in 2009 and 2010 (both runner-up finishes to Italy). Overall, Oudin has played in seven Fed Cup ties and has a 5-8 singles record in the competition. The Marietta, Ga., native is currently No. 85 in the world and won her first career WTA Tour singles title last year in Birmingham, Great Britain, defeating former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the final.

 

Stephens suffered an abdominal strain during her run to the Australian Open semifinals last month.

 

“I’m terribly disappointed that I won’t be able to play for my country in Italy,” said Stephens, who is ranked a career-high No. 17 in the WTA Tour Rankings and is 10-3 this year. “I played a lot more matches than I expected in four straight weeks in Australia and need to be careful not to let this ab injury sideline me for a long time.”

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