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February 5, 2014

Lauren Davis

Mary Joe Fernandez

Madison Keys

Christina McHale

Alison Riske


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Mary Joe, what are some of the advantages of having a young team and what are some of disadvantages?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  Well, I think first of all it's exciting to have young members, new members on the team.  Christina is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  21.  And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23.  So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it's your first time.  You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses.  I don't really see any negatives.  Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
I think that's a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it.  For me's really it's all positive.

Q.  Lauren, was this a goal to play in Cleveland, and what's it like to be back home and represent your country?
LAUREN DAVIS:  It's a huge honor.  I'm just really excited.  I never thought it would be in Cleveland, so this is a really pleasant surprise.
I'm going to have my whole family and all my friends come support me, so I'm just really, really excited.

Q.  So tennis is often considered a very solitary and lonely sport.  You're playing by yourself.  Can you comment on the team dynamic of really playing as a team in the Fed Cup?  This question is for anyone.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I'll start.  It is very different.  I mean, we're out there most of the year on our own and it's a very individual sport.  But when I look back at my playing days, the memories that stand out are the ones that were when I was on a team, which is ironic, because there were very few of them.
It's special.  It's different.  It's not just about you.  It's a week not to be selfish‑.  It's a week about coming together and rooting for your teammates and getting the most out of your game and also the chemistry and working together for a common goal.
It's unique and special and something you really can't compare to what you do on a daily and weekly basis on the tour.
Q.  So how is the court?  Have you practiced upstairs?  How does it compare to some of the other hard courts you've played on?
ALISON RISKE:  First of all, I think it's a beautiful venue.  I know I wasn't sure what to expect once I got here, but it's absolutely beautiful.  I think it's unique.  I was talking to Christina because she's been in other ties, and she agreed it was something special.
I think it's really exciting, and especially to be home in America to play the tie is really something to look forward to.  No, it plays great.  I think we've all had a good couple of days training.  We'll have a few more before it begins.

Q.  What type of challenges to the Italians bring?  Are their strengths in the doubles?  Singles?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they're big hitters.  They hit the ball hard and they're aggressive.  Good indoors.  Probably one of their favorite surfaces.
I'm not quite sure about the doubles.  We're used to Errani and Vinci, but I'm not sure who they're going to play.  I would say right the singles is the one ‑‑ you know, we have to look at the first four matches and take them one at a time.
The top two are both very strong players and hit the ball hard and flat and we have to be ready for that.

Q.  Alison and Lauren, you both had good showings at the Australian Open.  What has that done for your confidence coming into this event?
LAUREN DAVIS:  It was my first time in the third round of a Grand Slam, so that was very exciting.  It was just a really great experience.  I mean, to have the Australian, do well there, Fed Cup after, I mean, it's really great.
ALISON RISKE:  Playing in a big event, and especially a Grand Slam and to get a couple wins is always something that boosts your confidence and helps you throughout the rest of the year.
Hopefully we can carry that over.  Like Mary Joe said, Fed Cup is a bit of a different animal, so you don't know what's going to come from it.  Absolutely the Aussie Open has given me confidence.

Q.  Mary Joe, you've seen a lot of players come through the country over the course of your career.  How would you characterize this young group, and what does it say about the future of female tennis in the country?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I think it's pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it.  This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100.  I believe we're at 11 or 12 now.  So everybody is improving and pushing each other.  We're seeing the results.
We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it's very positive.  It's extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.

Q.  The Australian Open was famously hot this year.  On‑court temperature was 110, 115 sometimes.  As you know.  Here in Cleveland it's extremely cold and snowy.  Unfortunately you won't be playing outside.

Q.  Is there any chance that this outside weather affects your game at all?  Is it a psychological thing coming from the hot to the cold?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I think if we were playing outside there would be a bit of an adjustment.  Fortunately the stadium is a quite nice.  The temperature is warm and it's very pleasant, much more pleasant than the four hot days everybody had to suffer in.  Especially be out there playing and sweating.
It's nice.  They get to see snow.  Don't get to see it too often, especially the Floridians.

Q.  This is for any of you:  How long does it take to recover physically and mentally from a trip to Australia with the travel time and everything like that?
MADISON KEYS:  Well, I know for me, coming back, especially mostly just the time change was a huge difference.  I mean, it's what, 18 hours?  16 hours?  So you're coming back and you're not going to sleep until 4:00 in the morning and waking up in the middle of the afternoon.
So it definitely takes a couple days to get back on to a normal schedule.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:  I would say more than a couple days.  I'm still trying to adjust.
THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?

Q.  I apologize for walking in late.

Q.  Christina, you're the only one with the experience in the Fed Cup.  What kind of advice have you given to your teammates?
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Yeah, I mean, I've had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I'm really excited to be back on the team.
I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
I mean, I think just, you know, it's such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do.  I think that's the best advice.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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