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April 25, 2010

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Sloane Stephens


6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Liezel, last year it came down to the doubles in the semifinals. Much less drama this year. Last year it was a fight. This year you dominated from the beginning. Which was even more special or which felt better? Is there a comparison between the two?
LIEZEL HUBER: Well, all these Fed Cups are kind of getting mixed up in my head. I don't, you know, remember. I mean, I remember all the matches. It was just such stressful moments.
Even today before going on the court, I was like, Is this real? Is it truly coming down to the doubles? Then I just kind of looked at myself in the mirror and said, This is why you play tennis, this is why you work hard.
I have never doubted in my team. It was just a little high stress today leading up to that deciding doubles. But it was fun. It's fun. This is why we do it. This is why we play.

Q. What is going to be celebrated tonight, if anything?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It's been a long, long day.

Q. Liezel, it's been a long 37 hours for you. You were on hold. You were probably the most vocal, optimistic. You got your chance to play. How eager were you to play just sitting there hoping it got to where you had a shot at winning it with the doubles?
LIEZEL HUBER: Well, I think if you know me, you know that I kind of say things for the moment. I don't say things that I regret. But I wish sometimes I would tone things down. I have a lot of respect for the players we played today. As you could see, Dementieva was a good doubles player out there.
But, you know, it's all in the fairness of the game, psyching somebody out, trying to intimidate them. You know, this is what I do best. I love to play doubles.
So, yes, I probably said some things I wished that I didn't. But it's been only an hour match, which I said to the team I wish we had a longer match because it was a long wait to play that hour out there. A lot of training going in there. A lot of team camaraderie, you know, moments.
We didn't have many downs this week, but there were some moments where I kind of had to step up and be there for somebody. So a lot of work went into this week to play for one hour. It's a bit disappointing that I'm done and I'm going to Europe tomorrow. But November will be around the corner so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Mary Joe, can you put what Bethanie did in perspective?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It's an amazing effort. It really is. It's always tough to have to play back-to-back Fed Cup, singles, doubles. The good news is that Bethanie is used to it. On a weekly basis, she played doubles and singles. She just played in Charleston. She had a couple days where she had long matches and had to come back out and play the doubles. That was the good news.
The tough part, it was a very physical match, her singles match. 30 minutes is not a lot of time to turn around. But she did a great job trying to eat, trying to stretch, trying to tape everything, getting out there. I'm very proud of her. I'm proud of the whole team. It was a team effort from start to finish.

Q. Bethanie, was there any doubt after pulling out that singles match, the script was written, it would have been a tough pill to swallow if you come out and laid an egg in the final? From your perspective, how motivated were you after that in terms of adrenaline coming out for doubles?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know what, it was a big adrenaline rush. At one point, I'm normally not really emotional on the court, but just playing in Fed Cup, different pressures. Some bad calls that I thought anyways. You know, I was able to get the crowd behind me. I think that really helped me and was tough for her. I know that's her first Fed Cup, so why not let her feel the wrath of it, being away.
You know, I was really pumped, though. I always want to win whether I'm playing singles, doubles, charades, whatever. I think we're all pretty competitive. So I was ready to go.

Q. Bethanie, was the short time period between the two matches, did that help you focus and keep going or would you rather have had more time?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Man, that was 30 minutes. It was short. It felt like five. I get blisters on my feet. I had to completely retape my feet. I was doing hot and cold showers. I was getting my legs iced down. I was trying to eat. Actually, I was eating on the court during my match because I couldn't eat enough when I was there.
30 minutes is tough, but, you know, we did it.

Q. Melanie got it started yesterday. Liezel and you finished it up. You almost looked in that third set as if you were warming up for your doubles. You were playing all-court tennis, serve and volley, lob volley, dropshots. My question to you, what percentage of your mind was able to play routine tennis, and what percentage of your mind was battling this Fed Cup war that was going to be out there?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Uhm, it's tough to give I guess percentages. I think, again, the crowd really helped me. This is my first time being at home. It was really to my advantage. They were able to get me through that. It was a long, long singles match. She had me running side to side a couple points.
It's funny. As far as my all-court game, I want to play that all the time, not just third sets. I like coming in, I like volleying, serve and volleying, mixing it up. That's pretty much my game, so I got to stick to it.

Q. You weren't warming up for doubles?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, that was my singles play (laughter).

Q. Mary Joe, you've talked about this before, but the confidence that you have in Liezel and Bethanie. Dementieva actually said she and Alla had never so much practiced together heading into that final match. How did you feel once Bethanie pulled out a fantastic win playing so great, playing the doubles?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Definitely. It's the third time it comes to the deciding match. We always say we want to get it to that point. If we win before, great bonus. But we feel very confident in our doubles team. We have the best player in the world on our team.
LIEZEL HUBER: I just got a pay raise I think.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: You know, having said that, it's still the last match. In doubles, things happen quickly. So as we saw last year in the Czech Republic, we were almost out of it, match point down, then all of a sudden we're back into it. You have to be ready. You have to be prepared.
Liezel and Bethanie don't play that often. During the week they practice together to get used to each other and I think that makes a big difference.

Q. Mary Joe, you now have about five months worth of questions about whether you're going to go with this group in the final or whether you're going to invite other players to play. I'm just going to be the first to ask you what that feels like for you right now. Is there going to be a lot of pressure on you to go with the folks that brought you here?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think everybody on this team wants to enjoy this victory. We have time before the next final. Our main goal is to win. So we will put together the best team possible to win the final. That's what we always do with every single tie.
I have so much faith in this team right here. This has been my team. This is our core group. We're going to keep working with that.
We'll see. There's a lot of time to go. Hopefully everybody here is going to be healthy and we're going to give it our best against Italy to get a little revenge.

Q. Given the really tremendous wins you've pulled out with this group, how do you keep the story about them both in the public and media's eyes as opposed to who wasn't playing?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think it's pretty simple. They're doing all the work. They're out there competing their hearts out. It's really all about them. It's not about anything else. It's about the team that's here that's playing, that wants to be here, that wants to win, and comes through in the clutch moments.
We focus on this. We focus on who's here. Again, I'm so very, very proud of each and every one of us. Our whole team, staff really puts a big effort into this week. Again, it's my favorite time of the year, to be part of this. It's a huge blessing for me to be able to do this.

Q. Sloane, for those of you who follow junior tennis know the career ahead of you. What are you taking out of this weekend? What have you enjoyed about it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's been a fun week. We've all had a good time, I think. The girls have been playing great. Everyone practiced great. I think they're like big sisters, Liezel is like the mommy.
LIEZEL HUBER: Oh, no (laughter).
SLOANE STEPHENS: Liezel is like the mommy. Bethanie is like the cool aunt. Melanie is like the cousin, you know. I mean, it's been a good week. Mary Joe, you're like the godmother.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I'll take that.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think we've all had a great week. They're great girls. We've had a really good time on the court, off the court, playing charades with everyone. It's been a great week and I've had a lot of fun, yeah.

Q. Based on the 'cool aunt' comment, when you hit the dropshot after getting the call that you thought might have been a tough call, I thought you were going to get WWF. You don't get this every week. Talk about that moment and just about in this situation when you have the crowd completely on your side.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: It was fine. I mean, it's Fed Cup. You can do it. Everyone is there for us basically. So, you know, that call went wrong. I didn't even know I was hitting the dropshot till I hit it. I knew it was a winner because I saw where she was. I was like, She's not getting that. I stood there. There we go.
The crowd pumped up. It really pumped me up and helped me get through that third. I'll have to learn some more moves for the finals.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: All right. All right.

Q. Bethanie, could you have done what you did today two years ago? Can you put the Fed Cup experience as a whole, not just this weekend, the other times you've been called in, into perspective in your career, what it's done for your career?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You know, getting selected was awesome. I mean, like last year was my first year being selected. You know, I didn't even get the opportunity to come in as a junior, which was always a goal for me. I've always wanted to play. It's really been awesome for me to play.
As far as two years ago, I think I was -- you know, I didn't even know where I was at two years ago. I was probably injured, you know. I've had injuries everywhere, every year (laughter). So could I have gotten through a three-setter and another two sets of doubles? Probably not. Right now my fitness is really carrying me through. I'm feeling healthy. Obviously I'm getting a massage after today.
But overall I'm feeling a lot better than I have in the past few years.

Q. A final against Italy, but this time at home. Mary Joe, could you talk about how you're looking forward to that.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I'm so looking forward to it. It was tough playing them in Italy on the slow surface. You never know what we're playing on. Again, the crowd makes a big difference. It's just such a boost. You feel like they're with you every point. Every point is a big point. To have that support means a lot.
So, you know, unfortunately schedule-wise it's a bit of a bummer that it's so late in the season, that we have to wait so long. Having February and April close together is really nice because you get that momentum. But we did it last year. We know what it's like. We're ready for it this year again.

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