Christina McHale won both her singles matches against Belarus.
© Jared Gruenwald
Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens were part of the U.S. Fed Cup Team that competed against Belarus in a World Group II tie Feb. 4-5 in Worcester, Mass. Leading up to and during the tie one of the two rising American stars shared her thoughts in a blog exclusively with USTA.com. McHale wrote the last entry about the team's 5-0 win over Belarus.
Christina McHale - Feb. 5
I have to run and catch a flight to Paris tonight for my next tournament but wanted to write one last quick entry about our victory this weekend! I am so excited we won. The weekend and the whole week could not have gone better. I think we prepared really well so I am really excited for the team and I’m so happy we could end on such a great note with the doubles win.
I definitely think has been a great preparation week for me and hopefully for Paris I can continue playing well. I think this week will definitely help me for my upcoming tournaments!
Christina McHale - Feb. 3
Mary Joe told me this morning that I would be playing singles and it turns out I will start play tomorrow for the U.S. against Victoria Azarenka. It is maybe nice to play first because there are no results yet so I don’t have to be thinking about that in the back of my mind. The whole team has had a good week of practice and I think I have tried to do everything I can to be ready so tomorrow is just about playing every point and playing my best.
Especially today there is some anticipation and excitement for the matches. Serena plays Govortsova after I play Azarenka and then I would play Govortsova on Sunday. I have only played her in doubles but I have seen her play in singles, she has big groundstrokes, has had some good results, so they will both be tough matches. I didn’t really think about who they would play second singles before it was announced today because I knew if I played singles, I would play Azarenka on the first day. I have to focus on one day at a time and Azarenka first right now.
Tomorrow I think just I have to focus on sticking to my game. She is playing really well and I think staying within myself and not trying to do too much will be the key.
Christina McHale - Feb. 2
I practiced with Serena this morning, which is still a little odd to say, but it is cool. She has been really nice and it is really good practice for me. I think every day I am getting more used to the indoor hardcourt here. For me, I think it is medium speed, a little bit fast. I am playing also on an indoor hardcourt at the tournament in Paris next week and the similar surface and conditions is one of the reasons I decided to play an indoor tournament after Fed Cup.
It can be a big switch from playing outside in the heat to indoors but at least last week I was training at home at the USTA Billie Jean King National Training Center in New York so it is not like I came right from the heat of Australia here.
Yesterday we had a tennis clinic for kids here in Worcester, which is fun for me. I have only two or three other ones like that. It is fun because when we practice it so serious, so it is nice to do something related to tennis that is just relaxed. The team had a question-and-answer period with the kids after we hit and some of the questions were funny, like someone asked me what was my favorite subject in school. A few were disappointed to hear it wasn’t math but history instead. They were all cute and some of them were really getting the hang of hitting the ball and playing really well.
I will also add that I am so excited and psyched about our new team tracksuits. They changed the color from white to navy (with red and white stripes down the arms and legs) and they have the coolest sleeves, the cuffs are fitted, and are by far the best tracksuits of any country.
We all went to dinner together last night and tonight is the official dinner but the matches are getting closer, so we need to be doing our best to prepare and stay focused!
Sloane Stephens - Feb. 1
It is always fun to be a part of the Fed Cup Team and I am really glad to be a part of it again this week! Christina and I have been friends for a really long time so it is good to see her here and Liezel is like a mom to us and we always have fun together so it is really nice to back on the team together again.
Serena and Venus are on the team for the first time since I have played Fed Cup. Before this week I knew them enough to just to say ‘Hi or ‘Bye’ or ‘How’s it going?’ But they are really nice girls and I am really looking forward to playing with them this week and learning a lot from watching how they prepare and practice. It will be a good experience and a good time for all of us to hang out together and be a team again so I am looking forward to it.
We have gotten a lot of things done in practice the past two days, which is always nice. I hit with Liezel and Christina the first day, doing some 2-on-1s and then I hit with Venus for the first time this morning, which was awesome. Venus and Serena are definitely two of the best players who have ever played tennis so just to be around them, see them play, hang out with them, it is a really big thing. It will be a fun week, learning and having them here is great for the team so we are excited!
Christina McHale - Jan. 31
Today was a long day but I thought it was a good day. Pretty much the whole team was here. We got up early, we left the hotel at 7:40 a.m. and we hit from 8-9:30 a.m. and I got to hit with Serena, which was pretty cool for me. It was a good experience. We then had our pre-draw press conference and then I had another hit with Liezel and Sloane in the afternoon.
Serena and I did drills this morning. We did pattern drills, like five cross court, one down the line, stuff like that and then some 2-on-1s. With Sloane and Liezel, we did 2-on-1s and then Sloane and I did points at the end of afternoon practice.
I had never hit with Serena before. I didn’t know her personally before this week actually. She has been really nice and I thought the hit was good. She was really intense. Everything we did, she did it for a time, like she went all out for three minutes doing whatever the drill was. It was an intense hour and a half and I thought it went really well.
I am really happy to be back on the Fed Cup Team this week. It is nice to do things on a team because everything else in tennis is so individual. It is nice for a change to be in an environment like this and feel that connection with the team.
Some of my friends go to college at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, which is not too far from Worcester, so they are going to drive up for the matches this weekend. However, my family is not going to make it. My mom has to leave our home in New Jersey the next day after Fed Cup ends to go to Paris to meet me for my next tournament so she will watch the matches at home. But I’m looking forward to this week and the matches. It should be tough but fun!