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February 7, 2014

Lauren Davis

Mary Joe Fernandez

Christina McHale

Alison Riske


THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone, for coming.  We will take questions for Team USA.

Q.  Alison, you were a hitting partner, what, seven years ago with Fed Cup.  This time last year did you have any idea you would be on the team?
ALISON RISKE:  No, I definitely didn't think I would be invited for the tie.  It's very exciting for me.  Whether I play or not, it's great to be here and to support the team.

Q.  How good does it feel to be not only a part of the team but be able to win the tie for the U.S. in the fifth rubber?
ALISON RISKE:  Yeah, absolutely.  We have a long history with Italy.  Like Mary Joe said last night, we're looking to win this time.  We won a couple matches in the last tie, so hopefully we can pull out the win.

Q.  Mary Joe, could you go through your decisions to have Madison at number one and Christina at number two?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  The good news for me is that I have four players that are quite ready to play.  You can make a case for each one of them playing tomorrow.
I look at a lot of different variables, whether it's head‑to‑heads, matchups, court surface, experience.  Then you come up with hopefully the best combination for day one.
Christina will be the leadoff playing first, then we'll go from there.  We'll evaluate and keep going.

Q.  Mary Joe, you mentioned Wednesday that the Italian team had a lot of hard‑hitters.  To prepare for these matches, what sort of strategies do you have going into them?  Do you watch tape?  Any sort of specific preparation based on their strengths?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  A little bit.  Fortunately I think all the players have played both their top Italians, so we know a little bit of the game styles.  You try to hit a lot of hard shots, get them ready for the fast pace.
We have a lot of hard‑hitters on our team as well, so that makes it a little bit easier to practice against what you're going to see.
But, yes, we analyze the way they play.  I've been able to watch both the top players doing my TV work, so I know a little bit about how they play as well.
You know, we ask coaches that have watched them as well.  We formulate the best game plan possible.

Q.  Lauren, could you talk a little bit about what this experience has been like for you playing Fed Cup and in Cleveland.
LAUREN DAVIS:  It's been such an amazing experience.  It's a lot of fun.  I'm really good friends with all of these girls.  Just to be able to experience this in my hometown is just a dream come true.  It's really incredible.

Q.  Mary Joe, whose idea was this to play tennis when it's 10 degrees outside?  Do you think this event would have been here today without you?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Oh, I would hope so.  I'm really excited.  I'm glad that I was part of it and was able to get the Fed Cup for the first time in Cleveland.  Davis Cup has been here before.
But I said it last night, and he's here today.  The head of the sports commission, Dave Gilbert, was a big part of getting this tie here.  We owe him a big thanks in rallying the troops.
This is a huge tennis community, the Cleveland area and Northeast Ohio.  I think it's thirst for these kind of events and professional tennis.  We've had some challengers in the past, but I think it's ready for this caliber of event.  Hopefully it will be a springboard for the future.

Q.  Christina, you were selected first one out of the gate.  Any extra pressure being the first American on the court?  Number two, have you read the 'Hunger Games' and did you feel anything like the book when they call the names out of the bowl?  Funny question.
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Yeah, I was saying like I won a raffle when they pulled my name out.
But, yeah, I think it will be nice to start off the first match tomorrow.  The last couple Fed Cups I've played, I've started off first as well.  We're all just looking forward to getting out there, starting the tie.  It should be some good matches.  They're tough players.  We're just all ready to get out there.
And I have read the 'Hunger Games'.  I love the books.  But, no, I wouldn't compare this to the 'Hunger Games'.

Q.  Christina, how important is it for you to set the tone for the team right away?
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Yeah, that's definitely my goal is to hopefully start us off strong and then Madison will finish us up strong tomorrow.
But, yeah, I mean, I'm going to go out there.  It's going to be a tough match.  Karin plays really well.  I'm going to play my best and try to get us off to a good start.

Q.  The doubles team, tell me the mixed feelings that you have.  You obviously want to register a point for your country, but you want it to be 4‑0 by the time it gets to you.

Q.  3‑0.  Alison, Lauren.
ALISON RISKE:  I think the doubles point obviously is crucial if it is, let's say, 2‑All.  At any rate you always want to win regardless of the team situation at the time.
So I think any time we go out there, we're looking to get the W regardless of what's going on.  So it will be a good experience.

Q.  But scoreboard watching is not an issue?  You don't let your guard down if you're up a rubber?
ALISON RISKE:  No, I don't think you can do that.  I think if any of us tried that, we wouldn't be here today.  So, no.

Q.  Mary Joe, I'm wondering how much if at all did Christina's experience playing in the Fed Cup factor in?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Definitely a big part of it.  I've had Christina many times.  As she's mentioned, she's actually led the team the first day the first match.
It's a different experience playing for your country.  Christina has been there before.  She knows what's coming her way.  We're at home, I think that's great.  We'll have the crowd support.  I think that makes a big difference for the ones that have not played Fed Cup before, to have that as your first experience.
But it is different, and I definitely had to consider that.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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