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November 2, 2010

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Melanie Oudin

Coco Vandeweghe


TIM CURRY: Questions, please.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Thanks, Tim. Thanks all of you for coming out early and being here. We're very excited to be in a final again. It makes a big difference when you're home. We can really feel it in our practices, and we're just feeling that much more comfortable.
So it's a thrill. We're going to try to win the Fed Cup for the first time in ten years, bring it back to the United States. The team is excited. We're really looking forward to the weekend and the rest of the week, having a great week of practice.

Q. Mary Joe, can you talk about Coco making her big debut here? And Coco, can you talk about what you're feeling?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Sure. It's great having Coco on the team. I've had Coco on my team a couple times I think already, so it doesn't seem that different of a feel for me.
I've known Coco for the last couple years and have been following her progress, and it's exciting to see her development and how well she's done in the last few months. Had a great run in the summer and has just come back from Asia where she played really well and won a lot of matches.
So it been exciting to see her develop and improve. She's a hometown girl, so hopefully we'll get more crowds because Coco is playing.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Um, well, I'm excited to be able to represent my country. It's been a big dream of mine, and it's a big deal in my family. My mother was an Olympian. So just to be able to wear the USA flag proud in this Fed Cup, whether I play or not, is a great experience for me.
I'm happy to be chosen to be a part of this great team and in the finals. Hopefully we can get Italy this time.

Q. Would some of the other players talk about your first experience playing Fed Cup and what advice you would give Coco if she does have a chance to play? I know Melanie, it was pretty exciting for you when you finally got a chance to play for your country, and the other ladies.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Actually, my first time playing Fed Cup was last year, right, in Czech? I was playing away and it was a little nerve wracking. (Laughing.) It was definitely different. I think it's great we're in her hometown. I think she's got a good thing going. The crowd will be for you rather than against you.
I don't think we have a band that will play between every point and try to make us double fault before our serves. But, yeah, I mean, we have great chemistry on our team. Everyone gets along. We've had some great practices in the past.
I think we'll just kind of keep that mojo going.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, my first time was in February last year in Arizona when we came back and actually won that tie. It was extremely exciting for me, especially because we were down 2-1 when I played, and I was down like a set. If we would have lost the match, we would have lost the whole tie.
So it was extremely exciting for me to get to play that. Since then, I've been on the team every time, so this is my six time playing Fed Cup. It's pretty much one of the best times of the year for me.
LIEZEL HUBER: I've probably played the most Fed Cups -- well, excluding Mary Joe. I will say my first time playing for South Africa I actually didn't get to play that week on the team. And unlike here where everybody does get the uniform and the jacket, I wasn't award the jacket. For me, that was a big deal at the time.
So for me, the first experience playing on the U.S., I was kind of like, Am I going to get the jacket? (Laughter.) It was a tie in Russia, which was -- well, I'm playing a Fed Cup tie away match, how awesome is that. I just remember crying that whole week. What a great week it was. We lost, but, you know, my partner and I, we won the match, and it felt like we just won the biggest event ever.
So for Coco, having lived my experiences and seeing kind of what Bethanie went through in the Czech Republic, it's going to be nerve wracking for you Coco, this week -- because you have to put up with us. (Laughter.)
But I'm going to say, in my opinion, that if anybody can do it right here it's Coco. I have vouched for Coco since she was 16 years old. I knew she would be at this level and even higher.
I think for us who has been on the team, we're very proud to have Coco on the team.

Q. Bethanie, you mentioned the band. Coach would you like us to round up a quartet?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Bring all the noisemakers. Whatever you got, bring it out here.

Q. It is a little bit different setting for tennis fans who may not be familiar with it. You expect noise, don't you?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: You do expect noise. But having played home and away, we definitely get more noise when we travel. It seems like the American crowd is a little bit more civilized. They cheer, but it's definitely more appropriate.
I mean, when we played in France this year and Russia...
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: France's band was okay.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yeah, the Czech Republic band was...
LIEZEL HUBER: They should have been defaulted with that band.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yeah. And the Italians were pretty loud. We want the crowd to be as into it as possible. I always felt as a player that every point was a big point, because the crowd gets involved after every single point. It's not just a break of serve of the end of the set.
From the very first point, you feel that support. That's what makes it so nice to be at home, because you're feeling that constantly. I think it gives you such a boost when you're playing well, but even when maybe things aren't going well it keeps you in and it keeps you motivated.
So I want the crowd to be as vocal as possible.
LIEZEL HUBER: In Alabama the crowd was great.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yes, in Alabama we had great support.

Q. Liezel, I know you're coming right from Doha. Talk about your preparation coming in.
LIEZEL HUBER: I didn't come from Doha.

Q. Bethanie, I guess you couldn't do your off-season diet this year that you did last year. Talk about your preparation coming in.
MELANIE OUDIN: I've been training at home, getting some rest in, and just getting my body really healthy and ready for the Fed Cup, and then hopefully to play Phoenix also after this.
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Well, I got back from Asia about two weeks ago, and I kind of took a couple days off and just went up to Carson, the USTA center, and started training there with my coach to get ready for this tie and for Phoenix as well.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Well, I've probably been home the longest. I played Québec City after the US Open, and then I pretty much took a couple weeks completely off. No fitness, no tennis, and just got healthy. Felt great.
Eventually got my fitness and have been practicing the last couple weeks. I feel really good. I decided not to go to Asia just because I had dealt with some injuries in the past and really felt good this year and wanted to say healthy for Fed Cup and for next year.
LIEZEL HUBER: I probably took an opposite approach than Bethanie in thinking, We have a Fed Cup tie and I better have match practice. In hindsight, I probably should've done what Bethanie did and had time off.
I went to Asia for too many weeks, back to the States, and then to Moscow to the winter and indoor and outdoor and heat and all that.
But then I came back to Houston and I rested. So I've been training physically, and now been practicing for a few days. I mean, I'm 34. We've hit enough balls to know.
And as you guys know, we have a great practice week this week. But next time I'm going to do what you did, Bethanie. (Laughter.)

Q. Liezel, can you expound on what you said about Coco? What do you like about her game and her approach what you've soon over the last couple years? And Mary Joe, maybe a little bit more, too.
LIEZEL HUBER: Well, you know, Coco's got game. I mean, we all know Coco's got game. We saw it in San Diego. And she's had a great run not just in San Diego, but we got to spend some time in Tokyo.
But I just know. Like somehow Coco and I had a bond from the beginning. Maybe it's just me that feels it, Coco, I don't know. (Laughter.) But we can kind of take it from each other. We can joke with each other and we can take it. I think it's cool when somebody a lot, lot younger than you can dish it out also.
I just see -- I kind of in myself I see Coco a little bit when I was younger. But Coco is so much better. You know, so then you go, Okay, she's got a really bright future. And Coco's, if you will, matured a little bit later than I thought. But I knew that was going to come.
Sometimes you have to go through the tough times to get to the good times. Coco is now almost in the top 100. So now it's the fun stuff. You don't have to play the quallies or help to get in the quallies anymore.
So now what Coco does well is play the matches. Hopefully next year we'll sit here and Coco is for sure in the top 50. But Coco's got game. I just think she has the all-round game.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think one thing that stands out for me is my first Fed Cup as captain, in Arizona, had Melanie for the first time, and Coco was there. I don't really separate my young ones from my other ones because my whole team is young.
So for me, Coco was the ultimate team player that week. She did whatever was asked of her. If we needed her to kick more serve, she kicked more serve. If we needed her to serve and volley, she served and volleyed. If we needed her to warm-up ten players, she'd do it. So that really stood out, that she was prepared to do whatever it took to help the team.
I think having Melanie really breakthrough and excel has really motivated players like Coco and a lot of other young players that have really started to do well and play well and make that next move.
So like Liezel said, Coco has all the ingredients and she's got game.

Q. (No microphone.)
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: That's more of an ITF question. I have to find someone from the ITF.

Q. Melanie, obviously you played singles last year. This is extremely different conditions. You don't have to worry about the rain this year or anything like that. How much different do you feel coming in this year as opposed to last year?
MELANIE OUDIN: I feel a lot different, because last year when we were away, it was like the first final we've been in in a long time. Playing Pennetta and Schiavone, they were both a lot higher than me and really experienced players. I was definitely nervous going into it and didn't really know what to like expect.
The conditions were absolutely terrible. It was like we were playing on mud. Like we were playing -- the ball did not bounce. It was extremely for them. And the crowd and everything, it just seemed to play out like everything was against us and for them.
But this year I'm a lot smarter of a player, I'm more mature, and I think if I play, I know what to expect from them more. I think this surface is gonna suit our whole team a lot better than the surface did last year.

Q. Mary Joe, tennis is such an individual sport. What can you do to create a sense of teamwork and build camaraderie in a short period of time with this group?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, I think it's not a short period of time. I think it all begins from the first time you come together as a team. Watching Patrick McEnroe on the men's side do such a fabulous job during his time as captain of the Davis Cup I think has really helped me to know, you know, you compete at an individual level day in and day out. That doesn't mean you can't coming to and root for each other. You see other countries do that really well.
I think this team particularly has really come together well. They mesh well and they have good chemistry. During the week we have so much fun on and off the court. I see them throughout the year hitting with each other and supporting each other in their matches.
Yeah, they're going to face each other and they're going to try to beat each other up. That's what you want them to do. But the match is over, and you continue to support your teammates.
I think that's the key, is to be able to leave it all out there on the court but still have that sense of playing for your country, playing for your teammates, and encouraging each other.
I'm so proud of this team, because that's what they've been able to do the last couple years. I see it throughout the year, which for me is great to see.

Q. Coco, how much do you want to play this weekend? What would it mean to you to actually be playing?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: Um, like we've all said, it's a team environment right now. I'm willing to do whatever is best for the team. If I play, that's great for me to be able to experience a Fed Cup tie.
You know, it all depends on who's playing the best this week. As for the team outcome, we want to win here; that's what's important.
LIEZEL HUBER: You're a pretty good cheerer, Coco. Coco is awesome. When I heard she was on the team, I was like, Great.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: She's loud. She can be loud. But I think that's another important thing. Melanie has been on all my teams. And whether you play the match or you don't, you're still contributing to the Fed Cup tie. I'm a big believer in that.
So when it comes down to the weekend, whoever we feel are the best prepared and the matchups are and whoever is physically feeling the best we put out there. But it doesn't take away from whoever is not playing.
So it is a team effort 100% whether you play on the weekend or you don't.

Q. (No microphone.)
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yeah, the majority of the time our opponents have been ranked higher and we've been the underdogs. There's a reason why you go out and play the matches. You don't just sign up and say, They're ranked higher so therefore they're going to win.
We have seen upsets in the past. Yes, they're accomplished and they have experience. They're a fantastic team. But we do our best and we do what we can on our side of the court. If we can execute game plans and play well, all the matches are winnable.
That's how you start and how you improve.

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