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FEDCUP WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS: SWEDEN v USA


April 19, 2013


Mary Joe Fernandez

Varvara Lepchenko

Sloane Stephens

Serena Williams

Venus Williams


DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the U.S. team.

Q.  Mary Joe, talk about how you decided on Sloane maybe over the other players?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Sure.  Basically, we stuck to rankings.  Serena and Sloane are 1 and 2 for the team right now.  Everybody is hitting the ball well and playing great.  That the good news for me, is I have four great possibilities for all the matches.
But we're going to start day one and go with the rankings.

Q.  Sloane, talk about playing Arvidsson tomorrow.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It should be fun.  I'm excited.  Obviously I'm from down here so a lot my family is gonna come.
It'll be my first singles match, so it'll be a little ‑‑ you know, I'll be a little nervous.¬† But I have a great team behind me and I know they'll be really supportive, so I'm excited.

Q.  (Question regarding pressure.)
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I've never lost a tie, so we're not going to start this weekend.  No, I'm just really excited to go out and play.  No pressure obviously because I'm just going to go out and play for my team and my country.
That's all I can do, just do my best.

Q.  Serena, can you talk about playing Johanna?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I can only just do the best that I can.  I have not played her before, but I will learn a little bit about her game first few games and go from there.

Q.  Venus, did you express any interest in playing in the singles?
VENUS WILLIAMS:  I was here, you know, just to get popcorn.  (Laughter.)
I've been on the Fed Cup team before.  I love playing on the team.  So I'm here for whatever Mary Joe needs.

Q.  (No microphone.)
VARVARA LEPCHENKO:  Well, when we went for the picture, I was said, Oh, must be all for Venus because she always plays with Serena.  We practiced our doubles, so I think whoa should make a great team.  We do our best.

Q.  Mary Joe, talk about the younger players on the team and the future of the players for Fed Cup and Grand Slams?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I think our future is looking very bright.  I think the last few years the younger generation has really made a big push and has really pushed each other.
So there is a really good crop coming up.  They're there really.  Sloane is already there.  She's almost top 15 in the world.  And Jamie Hampton who has been with us this week as well has played some great tennis.  Madison Keys has been playing great.  Taylor Townsend turned pro.
So we've had great consistency over the last couple years.  Christina McHale I've had on the team many times.  She's starting to play better again, so I'm really glad we're going to have a lot of depth.
Obviously it's so great to have Venus and Serena still here and inspiring and pushing everybody, but I think the next group is fantastic.

Q.  (No microphone.)
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Yeah, no, the clinic went great except for the weather.  I introduced the team and it just started down pouring.  But they were troopers.  They were so excited to hit balls with the team.  They had good questions for everybody.  So it's great to see the interest.
Again, for this team to be around young people and inspiring them, that's what it's about.  I think the USTA has done a great job in 10 and under tennis getting more kids out there enjoying the game, coming back for more.
It was a big success, I thought.

Q.  Sloane, talk about what you learned from Venus and Serena and being around them.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Only the good stuff, okay?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  (Laughter.)  A lot of things.  Obviously they're two of the greatest players to ever play tennis.  We just have fun.
We just‑‑ I mean, I don't know.¬† I love being around them.¬† They're really good people.¬† Just little things I can't tell you because then I would be letting out all the secrets.
So I'll just keep it to myself for now.

Q.  This can be for any of you.  Talk about your week here in Delray Beach.  I know this is basically your backyard, Venus and Serena.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  For me, like I said last night, it's home for me.  I grew up here.  I'm also going to have my family here, even though I'm not playing.  They'll be supporting the team.
It's nice to have a home tie.  It really is.  To have the support from the crowd and not having to travel that far.
So we've had a nice week.  Delray is great.  We're all saying, Why don't we come here more often?  Atlantic avenue with all the restaurants, and as my team knows I love sweets.  They have a cupcake place, a yogurt place.  I mean, it's perfect for me.  We've had a great time this week.
THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Okay, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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