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April 23, 2010

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Melanie Oudin


TIM CURRY: We'll open up the floor for questions.

Q. Mary Joe, can you talk about Melanie starting off the tie and how you feel about that first matchup?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, I think normally you want someone that's been there before to play that first match. We're really fortunate both Melanie and Bethanie have played previously and both have played that first match and know what to expect.
Sometimes it's better to go first because you don't know any results yet and you go and play your match. Didn't really matter who played first. We're excited and ready to go.

Q. For each od the players participating, talk about what you know of the opponents that you're facing, assuming that you've played them before and your history with them.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Um, well, I think most of us know all the players. I mean, we all play each other in the tournaments.
I haven't played Elena in a while. I played her last year in Madrid and I unfortunately I lost. But I feel like I'm healthier and feeling better this year, and playing better this year.
She's a tough match, though. I mean, she's been top 10 for a long time so she's very consistent. It'll be a good-fought match.
The other two players I played as well in the last two years. I think we both have wins and losses with them. You know, I'm excited to play here. Everything is different in Fed Cup.
LIEZEL HUBER: I think it's an interesting lineup for the doubles. I think Makarova, in my opinion, is the strongest doubles player. I believe Kudryavtseva, I believe she's a very good doubles player also.
As far as my knowledge is, Dementieva doesn't play doubles. I don't know if they put that in to kind of fake us out. Maybe Dementieva has some hidden doubles skills that we don't know about.
Bottom line is they're all-around good players. If it comes down to the wire, I'm looking forward to playing the doubles match. It's great, it's gonna be fun, and we're happy to be here in the USA.
MELANIE OUDIN: I played Dementieva earlier this year in February and lost; at the Open last year I won. So we're one and one right now. Both matches were hard-fought matches, almost three hours, both of them. I know her game really well and she knows mine really well, so I think it's going to be a really good match.
I also played Alla earlier this year in the Australian Open and lost in a tough three setter. I know both of their games. Just gonna play my game this weekend, and hopefully all goes well.

Q. I am gonna be the one to ask the kind of obnoxious question. Is it distracting at all to hear about the people who aren't here? Really it's affected both teams, people who aren't here. Has that been a distraction or business as usual for you all?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Business as usual. You know, we have our core team. We've played a lot together already the last year and a half. Everyone gels really well and has great chemistry.
We said earlier in the week it would have been a bonus to have one or both of the Williams sisters here obviously. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.
But this is what we're used to. This is what we know and this is what we love. Melanie said well last night: We've become a family. These weeks are very special, and we give it our all to represent our country the best we can and play our best.

Q. Bethanie, I saw a headline in a rather large tennis publication that said something to the effect that Mattek saves the day. I think it was referring to the fact that you obviously can fill both roles on this team. You've come a long way from somebody who was looked at a few years ago as more of a novelty act. I think people take you much more seriously now. Can you talk about that?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely. I mean, obviously my doubles ranking is a lot higher than singles. I've always enjoyed playing doubles. Just being injured, it helped a little bit covering half a court.
But I'm looking forward to getting my singles ranking back up where it was. No, it's fun. I'm just glad I can help out the team in doing whatever. I'm here practicing with everybody, playing. I'm just excited for Fed Cup and I'm glad I'm on the team.

Q. I think we all remember you and Liezel coming back from match point last year. What did that match mean to you each individually? And also just the prospect of playing another decisive match again, does that carryover from year to year, competition to competition?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Definitely for me it's a lot of confidence no matter what the circumstances are. I mean, that was pretty -- we couldn't get down anymore, I don't think. (Laughing.) What was it, 6-1, 5-1, 40-15. I had second serve. So, you know, you can't come back from more than that really.
It was a great comeback, especially in something like Fed Cup. We were in Czech obviously, so it was a little disappointing[pointing for them. But me and Liezel played really well together. I enjoyed playing with her. She's the No. 1 player in the world, and it's an honor to play with her.
But, you know, I carried on for all my matches. I mean, we'll just go out, and we have our plan, and we'll stick to it the whole match.
LIEZEL HUBER: Yeah, it's been fun. I haven't played with somebody as free as Bethanie ever. It's like whatever goes. Okay, Bethanie. If anybody knows me I plan ahead, so it's been really fun and it's been really spontaneous. Thanks Bethanie. It's been a life lesson.
We practiced this week and it's been kind of like old hat playing with her. We gel pretty good. This is definitely the best team, Bethanie and I, to play this doubles match. We go in with confidence.
Going in with confidence just means we're gonna give 100% and we believe in ourselves. Doesn't mean we'll take for granted a victory. As you know, we can almost be done, out.
But we're very confident. We would like to win this tie before it gets to the doubles. Having said that, we are here to play a deciding match, and we're gonna take them down. (Laughter.)

Q. Mary Joe, knowing you have the veterans on the team and then you also have Sloane, who I see you've selected to fill the fourth spot for the future of American tennis. How nice is it to have the younger plays and the younger girls in the camp here as well to experience this?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It's been fantastic. It's been so nice to play at home. We've been away from or last three Fed Cup ties. So to be home and have familiar faces, and we have the younger girls, even younger than these two here, around and watching us practice and they played a little doubles yesterday with Liezel has been great.
You know, it's been fantastic for me because I know all of them already. Sloane and Julia have been on my team before and their game keeps improving. They're getting ready to compete, and both of them are ready to compete.
Melanie was there a year and a half ago, and look at the strides she's made over 12 months. That's what we're looking for from the next couple girls. Again, everybody is ready.
Liezel and Bethanie have been fantastic. It's been fun for me, because everybody has different personalities but everybody really gels well together.

Q. For Melanie, you had a tremendous amount of attention last year obviously. It was a big learning curve for you I know personally. I don't know if I would call it a relief, but is there some sort of sigh when you come into a team environment and it's not just about you, it's about several players?
MELANIE OUDIN: I don't know if you call it a sigh. I like playing individually as well as a team. It means more I think when you play as a team because you're not only playing for yourself, but for your country and your team as well.
But the attention, yes, was a lot at the end of last year. It has gotten lot better probably because I've gotten a lot more used to it.
The fact that I'm with the team and it's way more comfortable and we all hang out together and it's more fun and relaxing, I think that helps a lot before I play the matches on the weekend.
TIM CURRY: Any further questions? All right. Thanks ladies.

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