Fed Cup

Rosie Casals, Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, and Billie Jean King at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne, Australia. Team USA won its 7th and 3rd consecutive Fed Cup title.

Team USA. 1978 Fed Cup Champions

Andy Taylor announced his first Fed Cup Tie in 2002, when Fed Cup Captain Billie Jean King brought Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles and Team USA to Springfield, Missouri to face Israel. Since then, he’s traveled the country to lend his voice to the ceremonial sport presentation behind each home-based Fed Cup Tie. Click the links to the right (or below on mobile devices) for more in-depth coverage, audio and video from each Fed Cup event.

Delray Beach, San Diego, Stowe, La Jolla, Lowell, Surprise, Worcester, St. Louis…It was that first Tie, at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield where Andy was offered the opportunity to become “The Voice of the U.S. Open” in New York…a role he still enjoys to this day.

Team USA. The Most Successful in Fed Cup History

With players like Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Pam Shriver, Gigi Fernandez, Mary Jo Fernandez, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, and the Williams Sisters, it’s no surpise that the United States is the most successful team in Fed Cup history. Team USA has won 17 Fed Cup titles, including the inaugural event in 1963. They’ve appeared in 28 Fed Cup Finals, and hold the record for the most ties won (133), including 37 in-a-row and seven consecutive titles between 1976 and 1982.

Melanie Oudin. Breakthrough year for Team USA in 2009

Team Italy. Back-to-back titles over Team USA in 2009 and 2010

My two favorite Fed Cup memories

2010 was a remarkable year for the U.S. Fed Cup Team

…namely because they were able to reach the Fed Cup Final without the legendary talents of Venus and Serena Williams.

In February, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Melanie Oudin, Christina McHale and Liezel Huber marched into Lieven, France and earned the World Group 1st-Round win on clay.

In April, Team USA hosted the Semifinal versus Russia in Birmingham, Alabama. In the 4th Rubber, Bethanie Mattek-Sands delivered a clutch win over Ekaterina Makarova to keep the tie alive, then teamed with Liezel Huber and advanced the team to its 28th Fed Cup Final.

In November, Team USA hosted again – this time in San Diego. It was a rematch of the previous year’s Fed Cup Final, where Italy defeated Team USA in Reggio Calabria. Once again, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta was simply too good. On Day-1 of the Final, Pennetta defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while Coco Vandeweghe fell to Francesca Schiavone. Melanie Oudin kept the tie alive in Sunday’s first match with Schiavone, but Pennetta downed Vandeweghe in straight-sets to give Italy’s its third Fed Cup title in five years. Five years later, we’d see two of Team Italy’s top talents face-off in the U.S. Open Final: Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta.

While it didn’t work out for Team USA, the Final in San Diego was an absolute blast with the fiesty Italians in town. We hosted the player party in the Crown Room at the world reknowned Hotel del Coronado – featured in at least 12 Hollywood feature films, including 1959’s “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe.

2009 was a remarkable season for Team USA, as well.

…again, without the Williams sisters, the ladies defeated Argentina at home then the Czech Republic in Brno to reach the Final versus Italy in Reggio Calabria.

The 1st-Round victory in Surprise, Arizona will always stick in my mind. It was my first introduction to the fearless tennis of Melanie Oudin. While Melanie lost her first rubber to Argentina’s Gisela Dulko, she kept the tie alive with a 3-set win in the 4th rubber, defeating Betina Jozami. Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber then sealed the victory in the deciding rubber.

Without Venus and Serena, the U.S. was given little chance of winning the tie versus Argentina. Melanie Oudin was clutch in the victory, and the win proved to be an insane confidence boost for the 17-year-old. That year, she’d go on to reach the Round of 16 at Wimbledon and the Quarterfinals of the US Open, where as a wild card, she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova, before falling to Caroline Wozniacki.

While Meanie has struggled to resurrect the remarkable rhythm she established in 2009, she did win the US Open Mixed Doubles title with partner Jack Sock in 2011; and remains one of my most poignant memories of working with the United States Fed Cup Team. There’s nothing like watching an underdog blossum into a legitimate contender.

Fed Cup Competition. History and How it Works…

…women’s tennis demands a truly international stage for players to represent their country, which is what the Fed Cup continues to provide. Tennis is a sport that is inherently individualistic, but Fed Cup, like Davis Cup, offers players the chance to play for their country within a tightly knit team. It’s a challenge that most players rise to… — International Tennis Federation

Like Davis Cup, the Federation Cup is steeped in history. Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman is credited as the first woman to pioneer the women’s team tennis idea back in 1919. Over 40-years later, on its 50th anniversary, the International Tennis Federation launched Fed Cup in 1963, open to nations around the world.

Originally, the event featured just sixteen nations. The teams gathered in a new city each year, and competed for a week. Today, Fed Cup has grown to 97 nations, competing worldwide over three weekends annually. February features the first round, with the Semifinals in April and the Final in November.

A Fed Cup Weekend (Tie) features a captain and four players from each country. The home team has choice of ground and court-surface for each Tie, factoring into strategy. Five different matches (rubbers) determine the outcome of the event. Saturday features two singles rubbers; then on Sunday, it’s reverse-singles, where the players swap opponents. A final doubles rubber caps-off the weekend, with the victor winning at least three of the five rubbers played.