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April 21, 2017
Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, Florida, USA
THE MODERATOR: Welcome everyone. We're going to be doing the Team USA press conference today, and we have some very special guests with us from the Saddlebrook Prep School. They'll each ask one question, and if one girl can answer each question.
We'll go with you first, okay?
Q. How did you become interested in playing tennis in the first place?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I got interested in tennis -- actually my dad was the one that got me started. Honestly, I liked winning trophies. (Laughter.)
Q. Who taught you how to play tennis?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Good question. Couple different people taught me how to play tennis. I had a couple different coaches. I didn't really play tennis by itself for a long time, so I would say my first coach was probably my mom.
Q. What did you struggle with the most to become the great player you are today?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Wow, that's a tough question. I think in anything that you do you go through struggles and some adversity on and off the court. I think that sports mirror life, and you are going to go through ups and downs. You're going to have times when you improve, times maybe when you take a couple steps back, and it's not a straight shot forward.
I think those sometimes can be difficult to understand and maybe take a little hit in your confidence, but I think that's what's so great about the sport of the tennis. There is always next week and another tournament. You just keep working and pushing through.
So I would say that. That's a great question. Tough one.
Q. How does the team aspect of Fed Cup make this tournament differ from the other tournaments?
SHELBY ROGERS: Well, you know, all year we're playing individually. We go around and we're the only one on the court. Here you're playing for your country. I have these lovely girls behind match. It's a little different kind of pressure I would say as well.
At the same time I feel a lot of pride and honor being able to represent my country and cheer on these girls and have them behind me. No matter what happens, we all of each other's backs.
Q. What is something you learned about your identity being on the pro tour?
LAUREN DAVIS: That's a really good question. I guess just learning and growing and learning not to place your whole identity and worth behind whether or not you lose or win. Just knowing you're a great person and an extraordinary person no matter the result at the end of the day.
PLAYERS: Great answer. Good job, LD.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll open this up to the media for questions.
Q. Talk a little bit about the momentum you come in with here from Hawaii, how you hope to capitalize on that. Whoever. Maybe Coco.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, Hawaii was great. It was a really great team moment I think for everyone. We had a lot of different adversities going on with the weather happening around us, so it was a lot of stop and start, especially for my match and the first day.
But I think it was so great for us to come together as a team really show what Fed Cup is all about.
Q. Talk a little bit about the competition. Obviously you never know what's going to happen, but they're not fielding their A team, so to speak. How do you regard that and how well do you know these players?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Well, they have a very strong team. They have Siniakova who's ranked 35 in the world, and Vondrousova who just won a WTA event. We're not going to underestimate them. They have a lot of depth and we're ready. Doesn't matter who's going to be on the other side of the court, we're going to compete, support to each other, have each other's backs no matter what, and that's what it comes down.
We're looking forward to the challenge. They have won five of the last six years. We've had a tremendous week of preparation on and off the court, and we're excited and ready to go.
Q. Coco, what did you learn from being the lead player in Hawaii that you take into this tie?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I've played a lot of different instances in Fed Cup. Days when I wasn't supposed to play I played; I played ties where I was a newbie. So I think it's -- Fed Cup gives me the most unrealistic real moments that I could possibly have in a tennis event.
I really enjoy it. I enjoy just being in a team whether I'm the lead player or a cheerleader on the side. I'm down for anything these girls need. I think that's what is so special about Fed Cup.
Q. Bethanie and Lauren, have you played together before?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We have not yet, but we are ready. Lauren was volleying ridiculous today.
PLAYER: She was going to post something on Instagram.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I'm intimidated actually.
PLAYER: Check her social media for a follow up.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: @laurendavis1082.
LAUREN DAVIS: @laurendavis93.
PLAYER: Sorry, I was close. Really close. I was close.
Q. And Shelby, your thoughts on the tie?
SHELBY ROGERS: I had such a great time in Hawaii. I thank all these girls for showing me how it's done and giving me an incredible experience.
I'm happy to be back, happy to play a little bit more this weekend, and, you know, looking to have a good weekend and compete really hard. It's going to be tough, and we're going to bring our A games and put on a good show.
Q. For Coco and Shelby, not a lot of head-to-head matchups between Vondrousova and Siniakova. How do your games match up against those in the singles, and what are you expecting from those?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, I can't speak for them. I can only speak for myself. I've been training really well this week. I've been here since Sunday night, in Florida, getting used to the heat and humidity that is not there in California.
So I am as prepared as I'm going to be. I've worked hard to get in this position to be able to represent my country.
SHELBY ROGERS: Yeah, I think we've all had really good starts to the year. For me, a couple good clay results already.
So, yeah, I'm just excited to get back out there and compete again. Hopefully some momentum coming from Hawaii and coming from previous tournaments.
Yeah, just looking to go out there and fight for every point and ball.
Q. Kathy, beautiful facility here. A lot of fans expected this weekend. How important is a home tie? What are you expecting from the fans and the excitement this weekends?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: It's always nice to play at home, to have that support. I think that's what these players love. They feed off it, and the fans feed off them. So it's an incredible atmosphere that we saw in Hawaii.
Yes, we're expecting another great crowd here in Tampa. I think that's exciting. That's what we play for. It's going to a lot of fun. The girls are ready and prepared. We know we're up against some tough opponents.
Like the girls said, we're just going to compete; we're going to leave it all on the court.
Q. You had three members of your Junior Fed Cup team here early in the week. How exciting is that for them to be a part of this, and how bright is the future of American tennis?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Well, it's exciting for me to have them here because they're three girls I've worked with in the past, and I think it's very important and crucial to Fed Cup that we continue to bring our young and up-and-coming players and let them have the experience to see how important Fed Cup is.
As you can tell, these girls are dedicated to Fed Cup. They've made it a goal to try and win Fed Cup and bring it back the U.S.
That's what we want to instill in our young players coming forward, that when they're called that they will serve as well and be as excited, as excited as these girls.
Look, each one of these girls are stars and great players, and they've made time and the commitment. That's what we want to instill and hope that the young players will see and benefit from being around the top players and see their dedication, hard work, and what it takes.
So hopefully one day when they'll be playing and in this position they'll understand it.
Q. From your experience in tennis, what are some strategies you would recommend to high school student athletes?
LAUREN DAVIS: Like tennis strategies?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Life strategies.
PLAYER: High school you said?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: For tennis?
PLAYER: Have fun.
PLAYER: I played high school tennis.
PLAYER: You did?
PLAYER: I did, too.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I would say have fun. I think we put a lot of time and energy and focus into all our practices, all our training, but you still have to have fun, otherwise, you're not going to keep going with it.
Tennis is a fun sport and something you can do forever.
Q. What role did your family play in your success in tennis?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: My family played a huge role in my success and continue to play a huge role if my life in general.
I'm a big family person. That's one of the reasons why I've always chose to stay at home and never really venture very far from it. I miss my family when I'm on the road. I have a very close-knit family. There are about eight people in our household, including my grandparents, so it was a lot of fun being at home. I don't regret it at all.
PLAYERS: We're your family, too.
Q. Are you superstitions?
PLAYER: I'm not. Are you?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Yes, I am. I don't step on any lines when I play.
PLAYER: No nail polish.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: No nail polish, No. 2. I regrip all my racquets before I play. Craig, my coach, implemented this fourth one. He has to have all my racquets strung for me, which is his own superstition, so kind of has to happen.
Gets really complicated from there. Then it goes No. 5, I have to put my left sock on before my right. Same with shoes and ankle braces and all that sort stuff.
PLAYER: How do you live your life?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Very well. That's why I didn't put shoes on today. Those are five superstitions of mine. (Laughter.)
Q. What was your favorite thing about junior tennis?
PLAYER: Winning Junior US Open. There you go. Shelby?
SHELBY ROGERS: I had a really cool moment winning National Hard Courts and getting a wildcard into the US Open for the first time. That was really special for me. I think juniors is a great way to get some matches, match confidence, learn how to win, and set yourself up for some good opportunities to move forward with your career.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports