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November 8, 2009

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Melanie Oudin


S. ERRANI-R. VINCI / L. Huber-V. King
4-6, 6-3, 11-9

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Mary Joe, please reflect on the first year as Fed Cup captain, and each one of the ties and how special they've been.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It's been an amazing first year. Many great experience. I've said this before, but my best memories of playing have been when I was on a team. Fed Cup was definitely a big part of it.
To be able to come back in a different role is really just amazing for me. It's an honor and a privilege. I've had a terrific team the whole year. The team that we have here I'm so proud of, as well as the players that contributed and got us here: Jill Craybas, Julie Ditty, Bethanie Mattek, all of them really gave it their all.
It was a fantastic first year for me, and I think for everybody involved. The girls worked really hard, and they surprised, I think themselves, a little bit. They improved so much, you know, I think grew a lot from this year's experience.

Q. Mary Joe, Melanie came in here before and she was pretty hard on herself feeling like she was the team leader, which was put on her or whatever. What have you told her about that? I mean, it's a good sign to be that competitive, and care, but...
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Absolutely. You want players that care that much and that take it that seriously. And we talked about it earlier. I mean, it's such a different kind of pressure when you're playing for a team and for your country. You feel a lot more expectation, a lot more weight on your shoulders.
I'm so impressed with how the young ones this year were able to cope with it. I mean, Melanie came through in Arizona unbelievably well. Down a set. We were down 2-1, down a set. Down 2-Love, 40-15 in the third, and found a way to keep us in there.
Liezel, of course, clinched it in the doubles twice.
Alexa playing in her fist Fed Cup away in the Czech Republic beat two players in the top 30 for the first time.
So they've proven that they play under these conditions and this amount of pressure. This was their first final, so I'm very proud of them. They played unbelievably hard and they fought. The Italian team deserved to win. They were the better team.
But you want these kind of players on your side, because you know that it means a lot to them.

Q. I'm going to change the subject slightly for the moment. Liezel, you have this player that was suspended, and I know you're quite outspoken on this, for missing drug tests. Can I just get your reaction on that, on any of the other players, if you have one?
LIEZEL HUBER: I think it's not an appropriate question, but maybe it's appropriate right now because we're at Fed Cup, which is an ITF event. The ITF is the one governing the doping. I, myself, have a missed test. And I -- if you actually know me, I'm the most anal person I think about things in the future coming up. So if I have a missed test, I think it's very easy that a lot us have missed test.
Having said that, it's the player's responsibility. This is what we have to do. We have to be professional. The ITF is trying to run a professional, clean sport. More credibility to us in tennis when we have a clean sport. So ultimately it's back to us. That's what we have to do as athletes.
I think some changes can be made. They're gonna have a review again at the end of this year, I think because of many of us asking them to have a review. In my situation it's a bit more complicated than if you're playing for Zimbabwe, because Zimbabwe doesn't have a doping control. But United States Anti-Doping is very strict and very thorough.
So myself, since the end of the French Open, I have been tested 15 times. That's the beginning of June until now, 15 times. That's not -- you know, in the first five months of the year. So they're doing their job. Maybe a little bit too well. (Laughter.)
Let's see what changes get made next year. It's an unfortunate situation, and Wickmayer is gonna have to go through the legal ramifications of this. I wish her the best. She's a great player.

Q. Mary Joe, what would it better for these girls here to say to Venus and Serena, Don't bother? Don't come at all, because these girls can grow and get better in the future?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think we've had this question quite a few times already. These girls are growing regardless. The main goal is to built new generation. You've seen the new generation this year.
There are many other young players coming along as well. That's the goal in the U.S. right now. We're gonna keep improving and getting them to the next level.
Serena and Venus are just a different story. You know, they're the best in the world and the best in our country. If they are willing and able to participate, I think that's a great experience for everybody involved it learn from.

Q. Not to push the point a little bit more, but doesn't it bother you if they said they're exhausted and they went home and whenever, but Serena's been out hounding her book in Harrod's, and Friday night she was on the...
LIEZEL HUBER: What do you want us to say? We want to say yes, but we want them on the team, also. It bothers us. It does. And it's bothering us the more you ask us. (Laughter.) But we want them on the team.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: At the same time though, this is the best team, you know, I could have asked for.

Q. I'm not actually saying why not stick with this team. You all want to be here and take your shot together and not worry about them is what we're basically asking.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: This is the best team I could've asked for. We don't worry about them.

Q. For you Liezel I'm sure you're disappointed now losing the doubles match. But your first Fed Cup final as part of the United States team, and you were part of the clinching rubbers, obviously, in the first two ties. Tell us your feelings on this whole year and how this sort of ended up and how you've really bonded as a team?
LIEZEL HUBER: Well, I think just talking with our physio yesterday, I said to her, Wow, you're actually the physio for the American team. Isn't that awesome? She's like, Yeah, I wouldn't think that in my wildest dreams. So, wow, I'm actually on the Fed Cup team.
It's not something that you even dream about. It's so way beyond that. So this experience has definitely been something that we're gonna put in our memory bank, each one of us. We're extremely disappointed. My husband said to us, Champions adjust and move on. Don't be too upset. Move on. We'll have this opportunity again.
It's very difficult to sit here and have a smile on my face, because I absolutely thought we would pull this match out and that would make everybody feel better. But I think that we should feel pretty good. You know, we were lucky we could come back yesterday. You know, like in normal matches, you lose matches then you can't come back the next day.
We had the opportunity again today. We tried our hardest. I wouldn't exchange this experience for anything. We're building our resume, each one of us on the team. My resume is just longer because I'm older. But these ones and Mary Joe have amazing resumes. This adds to it.
And we'll be back. I believe next year we will be in the final again, and we're gonna be better prepared. We're looking forward to our off-season and looking forward to February to our next tie.

Q. I guess this might be to you Mary Joe since you're the most experienced. But you look at the Italians...
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I am the oldest.

Q. They're not a No. 1 player or whatever yet. They seem to have, in the last four years, been in the final, three of the last four years. They've won the title twice. What's the magic in their adhesive, because you would think the Russians have had the top players, or we've have had the top players?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: The Italians have great chemistry on their team. I was talking to Silvia Farina, and she said, you know, the Italians, they take a little longer to reach their peak. And both Flavia and Francesca are playing the best tennis of their careers now in their late 20s.
So they have a lot depth and they've been very consistent. Guess what? They play every time. It means that much to them. I think Flavia and one of the other ones qualified for Bali.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Vinci. Opportunity for her to end the year in the top 10, and she chose to be here. That shows you how much pride and how much it means to them. So I love that, because that's what you want to see in the players.
And they've been consistent. They really have these last couple years. You have to beat them. They don't give you anything. They play extremely well under pressure, and they've proven it.
Again, they deserve to win this Fed Cup title.

Q. Mary Joe, how special is to receive the Fed Cup Excellence Award the day before the tie started?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It was great. I was pretty surprised when they told me. Again, it's a highlight for me to be part of the Fed Cup again and being able to contribute and, you know, go back in the memory bank to all the great experiences I've had.
I was telling the team today, it's amazing, because when you play for yourself the losses don't stand out as much and really you never think they're that positive.
But in Fed Cup, some of my best memories are some of the matches that I lost, even though they were so hard to take at the time. So it's just unique. And being recognized and really the whole team really displayed what it is to be a team player and have the spirit of this competition.
(Through translation.)

Q. Melanie, considering today and yesterday, between Schiavone and Pennetta, who has been best?
MELANIE OUDIN: I don't think any of them were, but they both were amazing players. They both, um, played very well at important points in the first set, because I was neck to can neck with them. With Schiavone, 6-All, tiebreaker, she played a great tiebreaker.
And today with Pennetta, at 5-All she came up with some great points to win the set 7-5. I think that they're both playing their best tennis of their careers. I played Schiavone a few years ago and I've watched Pennetta play.
I just happy I got to play them and see how my game matched up against them and see what I could learn from it and see how I could get better.

End of FastScripts

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