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February 4, 2009

Jill Craybas

Julie Ditty

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Melanie Oudin


THE MODERATOR: We have the U.S. Fed Cup team. First question, please.

Q. Mary Joe, with the community event going on this afternoon, how important is it to have Fed Cup interacting with the community, to have the Quick Start courts? Why is it so important that it's not just about this weekend and tennis?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It's great when we have Fed Cup ties at home because we get that opportunity to give back. I think it really helps the community. I think it inspires the young ones to come out and see the pros, have a little fun.
I think Quick Start is fantastic. I have two little kids now. They like playing because of it. It's a lot easier. The game is downsized to their level: smaller racquets, smaller courts, lower nets, fluffy balls. You don't have to take a lesson to play. You go out there, play, you're learning while you're playing. I think it's great. I think the kids really enjoy it. I think it will keep the kids in the game longer. I'm all for that.
Again, I think it's great to be able to create some buzz about our sport in the local communities that we target.

Q. Mary Joe, talk about your decision to replace Bethanie with Julie.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Bethanie called me I guess Monday afternoon. She had been training pretty hard, recovering from her hip injury that kept her out of Australia. She had a little bit of a setback. She told me she wasn't going to quite be ready to play this weekend, unfortunately. She is here. She's probably going to come watch.
You know, then we sort of looked at the rankings. Julie was next in line. Julie has lots of experience. I had never met Julie before. But the whole team knew Julie really well. Very excited about inviting her. She quickly responded, which was the best news, that she could come. Got on a plane, got here right away.
We're really happy that Julie made the effort to get here so quickly.

Q. Mary Joe, can you break down the matchup with Argentina.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Not really. I know their top player the best, Gisela Dulko. Very talented player. She's been around for a while. You know, real steady. I saw her in Australia play both her matches. She lost to Serena in a tight two-setter. We know her pretty well.
Some of the girls know the other players a little bit better. We've been watching them practice a little bit. They're all very talented. So we'll see. We'll go out and play our game, and hopefully they'll have to adjust to us.

Q. Mary Joe, how is practice going? Could you say anything about your strategy for this weekend?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Strategy is to win. That's the bottom line.
Practice has been going fantastic. I have to say, this being my first Fed Cup as captain, I'm thrilled that everybody worked so hard and they're giving it their all. Everybody is getting along really well. That's always important. Just working hard.
We're having two practices a day, pretty long, some gym work, trying to be as ready and as fit to go on Saturday.

Q. Julie, can you talk about what the last 24 hours have been like. You came from Australia. I heard you were in San Francisco when you got the call. How excited were you to get the call to come?
JULIE DITTY: Yeah, it was Monday night when I got the call. I was visiting my boyfriend actually in San Francisco.
Yeah, I mean, I was thrilled to get that call. Just really honored to be able to represent my country. I think we have a really great group of girls here. I'm just really excited to be part of the team.

Q. Mary Joe, how do you see your role as captain? Are you a person who is going to be talking a lot, offering a lot of advice, or do you see yourself giving the players their space, or somewhere in between?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yeah, I think somewhere in between. I think it's going to depend on each player. That's something I learned a lot from Billie Jean King. She would always tell me each individual is so different. Some players you have to talk to a lot, they like it, they get encouraged by it. Other ones, you stay really far away, you let them do their thing.
You know, it's part of the learning process. These couple days of practice kind of help you feel that out, who likes what. But basically you're there to support and encourage. If I see something, you know, I'll try to help point it out.
But I think it gets tailored depending on who's playing.

Q. Jill, you've played Gisela the most. I think you've played her four times. Talk about the matchup. Any advice you have for your teammates that will be playing her this weekend, too?
JILL CRAYBAS: Yeah, Gisela is a great player, very talented. I usually go out there and compete my best. I enjoy playing her. Her style of game, I enjoy playing.
I think all the players that are here today, I mean, we have a great chance. I think everyone will do really well against her. Everyone on the team has such a great, great competitive fire. I think that's the most important thing.
I think everyone will match up well against Gisela, as well as the other team members. I think we have a good group, as Mary Joe said. I think we're just all ready to fight and win.

Q. What does Gisela bring to the table and how do you counteract that?
JILL CRAYBAS: She has a little bit more spin than I do on her ball. The type of ball that she hits I usually like hitting against.
If I just play my game and focus on what I need to do, I usually end up doing pretty well. So I think I'm just going to focus on what I need to do.


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