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April 25, 2003

Rita Mercier

Alan Schwartz


THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the USA vs. Czech Republic First Round Fed Cup tie. Would you please give a warm welcome to our participants. First, the Mayor of Lowell, Rita Mercier.

RITA MERCIER: Good afternoon and welcome. This is a grand event that's going to take place in our City of Lowell. As the Mayor of the City of Lowell, I send you warm greetings and a hearty welcome to the Czech Republic and the U.S. team that formed the Fed Cup team. This is a remarkable event for the City of Lowell. May I just say that I couldn't think of a better way to put Lowell on the map. This is the destination city. This is the all-American city. This city has been voted the number one sports city in not just Massachusetts, but New England. Having the Fed Cup here has put a feather in the cap for the City of Lowell. I am honored to greet and be a host to this great, first-class event. The economic input that is being brought here leaves Lowell in the greatest surroundings. I am honored to present and welcome everyone here today. May I please tell you on behalf of my colleagues in government, our residents in the city, I welcome each and every one of you here. Thank you for being here as well today. This just puts Lowell on the map. This also is the grandest time. It's yet another good reason for people to come and visit the City of Lowell. So everyone have a wonderful time. God bless you for being here. Good luck to our champions, our women athletes. Thank you very much (applause).

THE MODERATOR: Now, please welcome International Tennis Federation referee Tony Cho (applause). International Tennis Federation neutral representative, Judy Levering (applause). The General Secretary of the Czech Tennis Association, Josef Nechutny (applause). Finally, the President and Chairman of the Board of the United States Tennis Associatiion, Alan Schwartz (applause) Now let's meet the Fed Cup teams. First, it's the team representing the Czech Republic. Please give a warm welcome to Eva Birnerova, Iveta Benesova, Klara Koukalova, Daja Bedanova (applause). Leading the Czech team will be Captain Petra Langrova (applause). Now, the team representing the United States, please give a warm welcome to Alexandra Stevenson, Meghann Shaughnessy, Venus Williams, Serena Williams (applause). And the Captain of the U.S. team, Captain Billie Jean King (applause). Ladies and gentlemen, Alan Schwartz.

ALAN SCHWARTZ: Welcome, and thanks very much for your very warm applause. I think that same spirit will be present throughout this entire draw. The mission of the United States Tennis Association is to promote and develop the growth of tennis, and what better way than through the Fed Cup and its absolutely close affiliation with the grass roots tennis here in Lowell and in Boston two days ago. In fact, in Boston two days ago over 1,100 youngsters were given a wonderful opportunity to work with Billie Jean and the team and experience the thrill of meeting the Fed Cup team personally. We thank them very much for their willingness to give back to the sport and for their willingness to work again this week with the Lowell groups. A special acknowledgment to the kids that are going to be involved in the clinics - we have Girls, Inc., we have the Lowell Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and we have the Lowell Boys and Girls Club. Both of those organizations... (applause)... Both of those organizations are particularly near and dear to me because for the last 12 years I've been a director of the Chicago Boys and Girls Club, and my son has been the youngest national director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. So that's terrific to have them here (applause). Without sponsors, it's difficult to have a successful event, so my personal thanks to Jeffries and Co., To Market Basket, the primary sponsors; to Reebok, to DoubleTree, to SMG who are the folks who run the Tsongas Stadium, and last of all and most important, to the Lowell Convention and Visitors Bureau, who did such a good job to get us here (applause). If you take a look at this beautiful auditorium here and the staging, when you get to the Tsongas Arena, it will be very worthwhile to consider saying thank you, as I am now, to the USTA Pro Division, to Arlen, Jim Curley, to Jeff Ryan and their staff, to Anne Marie Martin, who have done such a wonderful job to get this prepared. I think you'll be just delighted when you go into the Tsongas Stadium. Originally, the program called for me to introduce Rita to make a speech now. But you know the good news? She doesn't need an introduction to make a speech. She's already made it, and she was just as enthusiastic as she always is. As I said last night, if I lived in Lowell, I would do what I learned to do in Chicago - vote early and often. She's terrific (applause). The record between the Czech Republic and its predecessor Czechoslovakia and the United States in Fed Cup is 7-2 in favor of the U.S., but I think you can gather from that it's 0-0 going in. I expect, based upon the long history of wonderful ground strokes and wonderful stroking that the Czechs are known for, that we're going to see some very fine tennis tomorrow and Sunday, and we look forward to being there with them. At this point, I'd like to acknowledge our chair umpires. From Mexico, Jaime Chavez; and from the U.K., Fiona Edwards. Thank you very much for serving us (applause). What we are gathered for today is the official draw which decides the order of play. To do that, I would like to introduce again Tony Cho from Toronto. Please take over on the draw if you will, Tony.

TONY CHO: Thank you, Alan. Welcome, everybody, to the draw ceremony. We'll make it pretty simple. The names of the officially-nominated team members are as follows: For the Czech Republic, Daja Bedanova, Klara Koukalova, Iveta Benesova, and Eva Birnerova. The official nominated team members for the USA are: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Meghann Shaughnessy and Alexandra Stevenson. Both captains had to nominate their two singles players before the draw today. So the two nominated players for the USA are: No. 1, Serena Williams and No. 2, Venus Williams. The nominated players for the Czech Republic are: Daja Bedanova and No. 2, Iveta Benesova (applause). According to the Fed Cup regulations, it states that on the first day of play, Saturday, the number one player shall play against the number two player, and the number two player shall play against the number one player. The draw today will decide the order of play for Saturday. For Sunday, the regulations state the number one players play the first match, and the number two pplayers play the second match. So here I have the four names of the nominated players which we'll put in the cup there. We'll put the names inside the balls. First name: Serena Williams. Number two: Venus Williams. Number one for the Czech Republic, Daja Bedanova. Number two player, Iveta Benesova. I'd like to call upon Mayor Mercier to pick the name, please. Mayor?

RITA MERCIER: Did you shake it (laughter)? I can't see a thing anyway, so it's all right with me (laughing)!

TONY CHO: The first name chosen is Daja Bedanova (applause). So this means that the first match on Saturday would be Daja Bedanova against Venus Williams followed by the second match, Serena Williams against Iveta Benesova (applause). The first match for Sunday states the number one players play against each other, so it would be Serena Williams against Daja Bedanova followed by the number two players, Venus Williams and Iveta Benesova. Just a reminder that the names of the nominated players can be changed for the matches on Sunday. Now, the doubles nominations also had to be in today before the draw ceremony, so the doubles teams for the Czech Republic are Daja Bedanova - sorry. It's Klara Koukalova and Eva Birnerova (applause). The doubles team for the USA is Serena Williams and Venus Williams (applause). Just a reminder to everybody that the start times for Saturday and Sunday will be 1:00 p.m. Thank you (applause).

ALAN SCHWARTZ: Thank you very much, Tony. I would remind you also that the doubles teams can be changed up until I think it's 15 minutes or so before the match. We may see that at that time. We'll find out. Judy, I've been to a lot of Fed Cup and Davis Cup draws. I never saw balls that were punctured like this to make sure everything's done right. Was that your doing as the neutral referee?


ALAN SCHWARTZ: I would also like to acknowledge and introduce to you my counterpart, the Secretary General of the Czech Tennis Association with whom we dined last night and found many things in common, Josef Nechutny (applause).

JOSEF NECHUTNY: I'd like to thank really again to USTA, to the City of Lowell and to the local organizer for the great hospitality. We are feeling here very, very well. I hope that we will see in next two days great tennis, be a big celebration of the sport. I hope we will together enjoy it. So good luck to both teams. Thank you (applause).

ALAN SCHWARTZ: Last thing I want to acknowledge, Petra Langrova. You can say hello to everybody.

PETRA LANGROVA: Hello (applause).

ALAN SCHWARTZ: I join Josef in wishing both teams good luck. I think we'll see some great tennis. Thank you very much for coming out here. Lowell, you can be very proud of how you've redeveloped your city and the enthusiasm with which you've supported us. Thanks again.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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