Mary Joe Fernandez talks things over with her team during practice in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
© Ron C. Angle
U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez is writing an exclusive blog for USTA.com as she leads her team of Serena Williams, Christina McHale, Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens against Ukraine in a World Group Playoff at the Superior Golf Resort and Spa in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 21-22. Check back often for updates
It has been a great week so far here in Kharkiv. The weather has held up nicely, we are in a great facility and we get to walk to the courts, which makes things a lot easier. Serena arrived today so it is nice to have the whole team here now and we have a few more days to prepare before we start matches on Saturday.
We are the favorites going into this tie but we know the challenges this team can present. Our team just has to be prepared 100 percent because you can’t take anything for granted.
We have not really been in this position as the favorites too often. In Worcester in February, once Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the tie, we became the favorites, but it is a different role for us. At the same time, however, you are there to do the work at hand and you approach each match the same whether you are the favorite or the underdog.
I have said this before, but Fed Cup produces a lot of different kinds of tennis, and a lot of different nerves. And being the underdog and having come through before, we know we can’t overlook anyone, including this team, and you have to be ready. Fed Cup is sometimes where players really shine and they play great tennis and you have to be ready for anything to happen. We are approaching each day as we usually do, getting a lot of reps done, working hard and doing all the prep work to be ready to play this weekend.
The girls are so excited about their personalized golf carts and not only do they each have one but they have their names on them. Everybody is thrilled. Serena was cruising around in hers today, going backwards and forwards. We might have to make an obstacle course for her tomorrow but they are a nice little bonus to have.