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BNP PARIBAS FED CUP: USA VS CZECH REPUBLIC


April 19, 2017


Captain Rinaldi

Coco Vandeweghe

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Lauren Davis

Shelby Rogers


Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, Florida, USA

THE MODERATOR: Kathy, maybe you want to take this first, but talk about being back in the semifinals. It's been a few years for the U.S. team, sort of the expectations that you have for this coming weekend.

CAPTAIN RINALDI: Well, this is my first semifinal, so we're building off what Mary Joe had put together the last eight, nine years. We're very excited to be in the semifinals and have this opportunity.

I have a great team. Four terrific players, young ladies, to represent our country. Our expectation and my expectation is to support each other, have each other's backs, and go out there and compete. That's all.

You know, they're very excited to be here and to represent their country.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Bethanie, what have your impressions been so far of Saddlebrook resort, playing in Florida?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Amazing, actually. Obviously I trained here a couple times when I was younger. I haven't been back here in a long time.

It's beautiful coming here. The stadium court, they did a great job with it. I mean, they have ample practice courts obviously. We haven't struggled with any court times or anything. But it's really nice to be really relaxing. The weather is great. We're sweating it out a little bit in the humidity, but it's been nice so far.

Q. Shelby, talk about the run you had in Charleston, perhaps the confidence that you take from that run, if you feel like it translates to this week.
SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, it's always nice to have a good first tournament, switching surfaces. So getting on the clay was nice, getting a few matches under my belt. I'm so honored and excited to be here representing USA again with these amazing women.

We've had a lot of fun already. You know, we're only halfway through the week. So I love these girls and I love competing with them. I'm really excited for the weekend.

Q. Coco, you got to hit out the first pitch last night for Tampa Bay. Talk about that experience.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Served it up, yeah. The guy who caught it was a little bit nervous about it. First he asked if I was going to serve an ace ball. I said, No, I'm not going to do that, that would kind of break my arm.

But it was a lot of fun. It was my first time ever out on a baseball field. I've been on the field at other sporting events. It was really nice that Tampa Bay allowed us to come out there and enjoy the game in a different aspect.

Q. Lauren, what are your expectations coming into this week? Obviously you've had such a great start to the year. What are you looking to accomplish this week? How has the past helped you coming into this?
LAUREN DAVIS: Yeah, I have had a lot of fun this year, playing well, enjoying myself.

It's always nice to be a part of Fed Cup, have that team camaraderie. It's definitely a lot different than what we're used to during the year. So I'm just looking forward to having fun with the girls, competing, playing for my country.

Q. Bethanie, I don't know if you quite remember this. 2010 was the last time the U.S. was in the semis. You were on that team.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yes.

Q. What do you remember of that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Were we playing Czech? I feel like we were playing Czech in Czech. Maybe France. It's been that long (laughter).

No, it's exciting. The last few years, we were pumped to get back in the World Group. It's amazing being in the semifinals. I think we've had a great team. We've had a great time the last couple Fed Cups.

I really think it's about the team. It's not always who has the highest-ranked players. I think Fed Cup is completely different. If you have a really good energy throughout the week, I think it makes a difference on the weekend.

Q. Kathy, Lauren spoke to the camaraderie in this team. Can you maybe give me your insights firsthand what it's like working with these girls, the atmosphere between them.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Tell us how it is (laughter).

CAPTAIN RINALDI: Be careful, Coco (laughter).

No, it's been amazing absolutely. To have players that really want to be here, it's their goal to win a Fed Cup, to work with them, to be around them, it's just been amazing.

We had an amazing time in Hawaii. Three players returning from clinching that tie, then adding Lauren to the roster. These girls know each other. The camaraderie is very high. We have a lot of fun. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun. I think that showed in Hawaii, and hopefully that will show again this weekend.

But as Bethanie said, that's extremely important. Everybody that comes to Fed Cup is a star and a great player. It's about being a team player this week. That's what's going to count on the weekend.

Q. Coco, a lot of people will be attending their first Fed Cup, the local fans here. Could you describe just what the atmosphere is like in an event like this, what the fans have in store for them, the ones who maybe just know the WTA events and have never seen this or experienced it.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, I've actually experienced as a spectator a Fed Cup match in La Jolla. It was an unbelievable experience as a spectator, being a tennis fan myself.

I always grew up with kind of a Team USA outlook on sports, just because my mom was an Olympian. That's definitely been a big part of the reason why I play sports, is to be a part of Team USA.

So I think just having that idea and having that mindset brings a lot better atmosphere out onto the tennis court. I think it's important to have a home tie, and vice versa, if you're playing an away tie, you expect definitely the one-sided aspect of cheering. We expect it being one-sided out there on the weekend. Hint, hint, bring it on over there.

It's going to be a lot of fun. It's really enjoyable to kind of bring kids and people that haven't really experienced a tennis match ever, I think it's one of the best experiences you could bring anyone to.

Q. Kathy, without dissecting each person's game, what led you to choose each of the four guys at the table with you? What skill set did they bring?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: I mean, they all have great skill set. That goes without saying. Look at their record, look at their tennis.

I think, as Bethanie said, you look for camaraderie, as well. It's a very tough decision actually, when you have so many great American players to pick from. We're very fortunate right now. The women are doing great. The men are doing great. That's a real tribute to all the coaches, the hard work.

I think Team USA working together, that's really important for success moving forward. You just try to put together the best team possible. Very fortunate that these girls were not only available but willing and wanting to be here.

As I said, three of them are returning. So, you know, it's tough, but I think we have a great team. The girls, the camaraderie is high. Couldn't ask for more.

Q. Bethanie, you were involved, as you said, in 2010. Now you're here. You've seen kind of the evolution of this. Can you speak to American tennis for the women right now, where it is, the depth and quality that's out there. Obviously you are here, but there's many more great players.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, I think we're in a great spot right now. I'm pretty sure that USA has the majority right now in the top 100, in main draws of slams. I know a few years ago that wasn't the case.

I think we have some great, upcoming juniors coming up. I've seen a lot of the young kids play at the new USTA center. I'm really positive about American tennis. I hope that the Fed Cup can be an inspiration, something that all the young players want to come and play.

But, no, I'm really excited for it. I think there's a lot of potential. Looking forward to seeing the next crop of juniors coming up.

CAPTAIN RINALDI: I just want to add we do have our Junior Fed Cup team here that are preparing to go compete over in the qualifying in Mexico. Three terrific young ladies with one of our great national coaches. I've worked with all three of them. Those are three up-and-coming players, as well.

It's great to have them here to experience this.

Q. Kathy, obviously not taking anything for granted with it being a semifinal, but the Czech team may be not as strong as some people anticipated a month ago. How do you think you match up with the team that they brought this weekend?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Well, we're going into this not underestimating anybody. They, like us, are very strong, a lot of depth in their women's game in singles and in doubles. Recently some of those girls have had a lot of success.

They're young and they're hungry. We're just expecting them to come out and be playing their best. We're going to go and we're just going to compete. I mean, we're going to leave everything we have out on that court. Win or lose, that's what you're going to get from this American team.

I've seen them, been around them. They're of great character. We're just going to put it on the line.

Q. Shelby, once upon a time you were here at this venue competing in a $25,000 tournament. A lot of dreams ahead of you at that time. Now here you are back as part of the Fed Cup. Talk about your evolution, your memories of that previous event, the irony of here you are back at this place playing for a Fed Cup.
SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I saw everyone here when I first arrived at Saddlebrook. I was like, Wow, looks a little different than last time I was here. The stadium court is beautiful.

But, yeah, I'd been a little injured. I came here to play that tournament to get some matches. I think it was in January. It was a little bit cold. The weather is nice now.

But it was a great experience. I mean, the people here are so nice. They do everything. They go above and beyond to make sure we have everything. The same goes for the tournament when I played here. Nothing's really changed. The people are great. I'm so fortunate to be back on this team and in a great place.

I mean, we're staying right here. We can walk to the court. Like Bethanie said, we haven't had any issues with practicing or fighting for a court. They're spoiling us pretty good this weekend.

I'm so happy to be back with these girls. The camaraderie keeps coming up. It's not that we were just thrown together and we get along. We get along all year. We're always friends. When we come together, it's supernatural. I think we all have a lot of fun. Looking forward to a good weekend.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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