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April 17, 2019

Captain Kathy Rinaldi

Sloane Stephens

Madison Keys

Sofia Kenin

Jessica Pegula

Jennifer Brady

San Antonio, Texas

THE MODERATOR: We will open the floor to questions.

Q. Madison, as part of the team that lost to Australia a couple months ago, how important was it to come back and make up for that, make sure you guys are back in the World Group next year?
MADISON KEYS: Way to start with a bang, geez.

Since we lost the last time, we are obviously playing to stay in World Group I. It's obviously very important. We're all really bummed about the loss and looking to walk away with a win after this weekend.

Q. On a more positive note, you had a big win in Charleston. How would you describe your confidence in your game coming into this weekend?
MADISON KEYS: A lot better than after your first question (laughter).

Feeling pretty good. Obviously had a really good week in Charleston. Feeling like I have kind of figured my game out again. Was really happy to get another title.

Q. For anybody. I know you are peak athletes, but you're in San Antonio. Have you had any TexMex yet?

Q. You been to the Alamo? Anything?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: I've been here earlier. Coach Lisa Raymond and I have been down to the Pearl District. It was amazing. We have experienced amazing restaurants. We're looking forward to going to I believe a Mexican restaurant tonight.

Q. Sloane, talk to me about how competing on an international stage compared to the rest of the tour, what is sort of different about this sort of event?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Playing for your country obviously is way different than playing just for yourself. Obviously you're on a team. I think a lot of us grew up playing like under 12s, under 14s team competition. I think playing Fed Cup for your country is the highest level you can get as a team, other than the Olympics obviously.

I think it's an honor to be able to play for our country, represent our country. It's different than just playing for yourself, because you're playing for everybody sitting here, the whole staff, everyone.

Q. I know you and Madison have a relationship. What is it like for you to be anchoring this team side-by-side?
SLOANE STEPHENS: We like to play Fed Cup ties together. We always have a good week and a good time. New girls on the team. I never played with Sonia or Jess before. I think we'll have a good week. Looking forward to it. Obviously a new city. Fed Cup has never been in Texas?


SLOANE STEPHENS: To be able to play here with new girls, a new team, it's going to be fun.

Q. Kathy, I would like to know what you think of the Swiss team, Swiss players, and if you have special records before Switzerland the company?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Special what?

Q. Special records about Switzerland.
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Oh, yeah, Switzerland is beautiful. In fact, I see you have 'Gstaad' on there. There for the first time last year. I always enjoy my time in Switzerland. One of the most beautiful cities in the world.

You have a tough team. I know Belinda Bencic is not here, but you still have a strong team with Golubic, Bacsinszky, Perrin and the young up-and-coming player. We're not taking them lightly, whatsoever. We're here to compete, take it one match at a time, like we always do.

Yeah, we're going to leave it all on the court.

Q. Madison, you talked about the win in Charleston. What does that do for your confidence going forward?
MADISON KEYS: Charleston was a really good week for me. After coming off of some tough losses, it was really good to not only just get another title but just put a lot of matches together. It's been a while since I've done that.

Q. Was there something you could point to that was different compared to previous tournaments you had been in?
MADISON KEYS: I think it just clicked, honestly. The first round, it was another tough match. So being able to get out of that, start building confidence, getting matches under my belt one after the other was the biggest difference.

Q. Did going to a new coach make any impact at all?
MADISON KEYS: I mean, obviously. Had a really good week. It's not very often that you start with a new coach and then win a title. I think a lot of improvement showed right away.

Q. A general question. I think probably the last two months, most of you guys have been in the country with the hard court swing, now Fed Cup. How much of an advantage is it to be in your home country for that long of a period during the year?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's always nice to be home. I think playing in the U.S. is obviously an advantage to American players. Then obviously playing home ties is a clear advantage.

I think, yeah, an extended period of time at home is great for everyone involved. Yeah, it's very nice.

Q. Jessica and Jennifer, this is your debut week here. Can you tell me what the experience has been like?
JENNIFER BRADY: Well, we just got here yesterday evening, so today is our first day. But, I mean, I think I can say for both of us that we're both truly honored to be a part of the Fed Cup team, to represent the United States.

CAPTAIN RINALDI: Jenny was in Belarus with our team when we played for the final and won. She was over there. She was a tremendous asset for the team that week, especially after we won.

Q. Sonia, your third straight tie with the team. What would it mean for you to break through and get your first win this weekend?
SOFIA KENIN: It would be great. I feel like third time is a charm so I feel like we're going to kick their asses this week.

I'm excited. It's an honor to be here and compete with these girls, be on a team with them. I'm sure we'll have a great week.

Q. Sloane, how have you felt about your play overall in recent weeks and months?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's been rocky. But I think when I played in Charleston, things started coming together a little bit. Probably the best I've played this season. So just happy to get back, good little rhythm, be playing well again. Definitely on the right track, going in the right direction.

Looking forward to the clay court season. Obviously my favorite surface.

Q. What is coming together, what are you working on going forward?
SLOANE STEPHENS: That I won more than one match in a row. That came together nicely. Just being able to play some good, solid tennis consecutively is always a help. Just helps the confidence.

Q. Seems like mentally that confidence has never been an issue, you handle rough stretches well. Is that something that's always been easy for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's not easy. I think you just kind of take it in stride. It always gets better. Playing sports, things go up and down. You have very high highs and very low lows. I think finding a balance, being able to manage through the low lows, the high highs, find the middle ground, stay focused, go back to work. If it goes bad, you have to go back to work. If it goes good, you have to work harder keeping that emotional balance.

Q. You have a good relationship with Quincy Pondexter. Are you going to have any chance to catch up with him?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I can't wait. I FaceTimed him in the car. But, yeah, they have a really nice stadium over there. I was like, Wow, this is so nice.

I've been saying, I'm going to come to San Antonio and visit. I'm down here, Fed Cup, so great.

Just excited to be here. Obviously my first time. Yeah, looking forward to it.

Q. Are you going to be able to catch the game? What is the plan like?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm a little booked. I think they play tomorrow night. We have a team dinner tomorrow, so I don't think I'll make any games. Saturday they play during the day, so a no-go for me.

Q. Kathy, can you talk about the team overall. What about the group you've assembled here?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: We have an awesome team with Sloane and Maddie, two very experienced players, unbelievable players and leaders. Then with Sonia, who has played a few times, been playing very well this year. Finally got Jenny Brady officially on the team. Really excited. She's had a tremendous year, singles and doubles. And Jessica, who has really earned her place on the team. Has had a great, solid year, as well, breaking into the top 100.

You know what, I think the most important thing is the camaraderie and the togetherness. That's what I'm looking for this week. I think we've already established that. We're ready to go.

We're going to practice, get ready. We've done our homework. We're going to have fun this week, work hard, and we're going to compete.

Q. You have had a lot of success in the Fed Cup since you've been leading the group. Is there pressure to make sure you're in the World Group next year?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: I think any time you're playing for your country, there's pressure. Any time these girls step on the court, there's pressure, right? The girls take that very seriously. They're here, taking time out of their schedules to come and represent their country. They're playing for one another. They're playing most importantly for their country.

That's the great thing about Fed Cup, those emotions. They really come out. So we're looking forward to playing in our home tie in front of our home fans. We're hoping they're going to be here and show their colors, be loud and boisterous for us.

Yeah, that's what we're here for. That's what these girls play for.

Q. I was reading you and Sloane have been working together a lot recently. What has your relationship with her been like?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Actually I have a great relationship, right, Sloane? Say some nice things about me (laughter).

I was jut filling in for a couple weeks. It was a great honor for me to step into that role, to be there for her. I feel like I have a great relationship with all the girls. I've known them for so long. I've watched them since they were young juniors playing. Just a tremendous honor for me to be here with each and every one of them.

I always say I get so much more out of this than they do probably. But it's really truly an honor.

Q. You've worked with Madison a little bit individually as well recently, right?

Q. At some point?
CAPTAIN RINALDI: Not really. I haven't really worked with Maddie, no. I'm just at the matches. I'm there to support. I'm there to support her and her team and her coach, be there for all the girls in one capacity or the other. It's not necessarily working with them.

But I'm always watching and observing, letting them know that I'm there for them, to support them and their teams.


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