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February 6, 2009

Jill Craybas

Julie Ditty

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Melanie Oudin


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Mary Joe, can you talk about how you decided who would play which match, what went into your decision?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: We had a great week of practice. Everyone really is ready to play.
It was tough. Melanie and Julie have both played really well. I think Melanie has been here one more day, so that's why she got the nod (laughter).
But they're both ready to play. It really wasn't a huge difference. They're both first-timers. We're going to see how everything goes tomorrow. We can always make switches for Sunday.
But we're really confident in all our players. Again, it really wasn't one playing better than the other. They're both playing great.

Q. Melanie, how do you feel about playing number two singles? Your first Fed Cup. Were you expecting to be the number two singles players? How do you feel about playing Dulko in your first match?
MELANIE OUDIN: I'm really excited. I definitely didn't expect it. I've been working really hard. I'm just hoping to play well tomorrow.

Q. Jill, how do you feel about playing Jozami? How do you feel about having the first match tomorrow?
JILL CRAYBAS: I was actually really excited that I was the first match because I'm ready to go. A lot of us have been talking after a great week of practice that most of us were ready to go yesterday or the day before.
We've been working really hard. I'm really excited to get it all started tomorrow.

Q. Julie, how do you feel about playing in the doubles match on Sunday? Is it going to be hard to wait till that long? How do you feel about doubles first time in Fed Cup?
JULIE DITTY: I'm really excited to play with Liezel. We practiced together the other day. I thought we had some good chemistry on the court together. Just really excited to play, yeah.

Q. Liezel, how about you? You will be playing the two younger players. You haven't seen them before. How do you feel about working with Julie against two players you haven't played before?
LIEZEL HUBER: It's going to be a great week. It's been a lot of new girls that I've met, I'll be friends with forever. Like was said outside there, it's going to be memories that will last a lifetime. I'm just in the moment right now. I didn't even hear your question (laughter).
It's going to be fun. We're going to be a great team. We're going to kick some butt. We're going to be very, very disappointed if we don't. We're going to be aggressive out there, we're going to be loud. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. Melanie, having never played Dulko before, are you going to be asking Jill, some of the other players, some advice? What is going to be your tactic going in?
MELANIE OUDIN: I'll definitely ask Jill because she played her four times, so she knows how to play her.
I'm just looking forward to going out there, playing my game, seeing how I match up against her. I know she's a really talented player, so it's definitely going to be tough. But I'm looking forward to it.

Q. (Question to Mary Joe regarding the pressure of playing Fed Cup.)
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Any time you're playing for your country, there's tons of pressure. I can't remember one tie where I didn't feel nervous or didn't feel the pressure. You know, you're not just playing for yourself; you're playing for your teammates, you're playing for your country. It means a lot. But that's why you work so hard and it means so much at the end of the day.
I said last night at the dinner, win or lose, you get a lot from this experience and these weeks. They're the best memories you're going to have when you look back after your career is over.
The pressure is on. Hopefully we're all going to thrive under the pressure. That's what you want: you want the pressure to be there and you want to perform at your best when it matters most.

Q. (Question to Melanie regarding the pressure of playing Fed Cup.)
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, representing your country, it's a lot more than just playing for yourself. I mean, you're letting your country down or you're helping them win. I mean, it's going to take a lot.
I'm just looking forward to playing for the United States because I've never done that before, so it's going to be really fun.

Q. Jill?
JILL CRAYBAS: Yeah, what Melanie and Mary Joe said is actually perfect. Like Mary Joe said, like Billie Jean King wrote in her book Pressures of Privilege, I think when we focus on that, I think you can overcome anything.
So we're just going to go out there and fight our hardest. I think realizing that playing for the United States is a really exciting thing to do instead of, you know, trying to worry about it a little bit. So we're just going to go out there and fight our hardest.

Q. Mary Joe, as the captain, only one of the two players have played each other, how difficult is it for you to guide them in matches?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, we know Dulko. I've seen her play for the last couple years. Some of the girls on the team have played against Jozami, so we have that covered there.
The two doubles players a little less. I think maybe one of them we've maybe seen, Esperon. But tomorrow is a big day. That's when we really get a chance to see how they're playing and what they're doing.
We know enough to be prepared. But Melanie said it well: you really focus on our game, imposing our game on them, and they're the ones that have to adjust.

Q. Melanie, in Fed Cup, it's your first time. Is it more or less what you expected, being on a team, sharing things with other people? You're more in an individual sport. What is your experience in this?
MELANIE OUDIN: I love it so far. I mean, we've had an amazing week. I've gotten to know all these great girls. I'm just having a blast being on the team.
I just can't wait for this weekend. I'm so excited.

Q. Mary Joe, did you play Mercedes Paz in your career?

Q. What was that like and what is it like to now find that you're both captains in this great competition? I think it's wonderful when past Fed Cup players end up as captain of their country team.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Absolutely. Mercedes and I go way back. She's a little older. Sabatini was more my contemporary. I'm hoping that she'll be Fed Cup captain soon. Next time I see her, I'm going to try to convince her.
But I think once you're a player and you've been through it, you know what it's like, you know how much it means to be captain. It's really a dream come true because you get to experience it all over again from a different vantage point of view.
It's great when you see past players wanting to give back and wanting to be part of it again. So I'm hoping that a lot of the former top players will want to be part of Fed Cup. It's great that Mercedes is here. I don't think I ever played her in Fed Cup, but I did play her on the tour. She's a great, great person. It's great that she's here representing her Federation.

Q. Can you describe the conditions out there on the court. Is it playing fast? Is the air thin? Is that changing how you're approaching the matches?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: We're in a little bit of altitude, so the ball travels through the air pretty quickly. But the court is playing pretty fair. It's not too fast, not too slow. I think whatever your game style, it will work. If you want to come in, you'll be able to come in. If you want to defend, you'll be able to defend. I think it will be pretty fair for everyone.

Q. Is it a little slower than the US Open?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: About the same. It bounces a little higher here because of the altitude. Everyone but Jill thinks it bounces higher (laughter).

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