FED CUP Q&A:
ALISON RISKE & SHELBY ROGERS
Ashley Marshall | November 9, 2017
Fed Cup teammates Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske are looking to bring the title back to the U.S. for the first time since 2000.
Friends on and off the court, they have been preparing for this weekend's Fed Cup final against Belarus, Minsk.
USTA.com caught up with the duo to learn more about the team chemistry, representing your country and how special it would be to end a 17-year wait for the championship.
USTA.com: What would it mean to you to be part of the team to bring home the Fed Cup?
Alison Riske: First of all, it's just an honor to be on the team. We worked hard all year. I was part of one of the prior ties earlier this year. It's an awesome group of girls and we have an amazing captain (Kathy Rinaldi) and coach (Lisa Raymond). To win it would just be the icing on the cake after a wonderful year. ADVERTISEMENT We're really looking forward to the weekend.
Shelby Rogers: I've been very fortunate and honored to play in all the Fed Cups this year. I made my debut at the beginning of the year and then kept it going. I'm so excited to be here. I love these girls so much, we have a ton of fun. It's just a really great week.
USTA.com: When you played the first tie earlier in the year, the quarterfinal against Germany in Maui, did you have a feeling that this was a special team?
Riske: I definitely think so. I think what makes it so special is the fact that we're all really close and we all have a good relationship, a good rapport. Like Kathy has said multiple times, we have each other's backs, which I think is really rare in a team atmosphere, especially when we're so used to competing against each other. It is a very special team and I thought back then, gosh, we have a shot at it.
USTA.com: How exciting is it to play for Kathy and Lisa?
Riske: Honestly, they're incredible. They have made Fed Cup for me those weeks during this year have been some of my best memories from 2017. They just bring so much charisma and so much excitement and they're just fun to be around, which makes a good vibe for the rest of us. I can't say enough wonderful things about them.
USTA.com: Can you speak to the team camaraderie here and just how much fun it is being part of this group?
Riske: There's definitely a lot of jokes going round, whether we're riding the bus to the site, whether we're at dinner, whether we're on the court. There's a lot that goes on that keeps us on our toes, whether it's Coco cracking a joke or Shelby and Sloane and I just laughing. It's a great group of girls and we're really lucky to experience this together.
Rogers: It's non-stop laughs the whole time. It's great. We came here at different times – I had some time with Alison before the other two girls got here, so that was a lot of fun. Then we just came together and it's even better. Everyone gets along, it's a really great positive atmosphere.
USTA.com: How important is that aspect on a team like this?
Rogers: I think it's the most important thing because we're not used to it. We're by ourselves all year, so coming to this could be a little unnerving and a lot different so – it calms you down and you adjust and feel comfortable with it.
USTA.com: Kathy has so many options to choose from when it comes to picking her four-player roster. What does that say about the strength of American tennis?
Riske: It's truly incredible. I even see now the 15- and 16-year-olds that we have in American right now making a name for themselves on the tour already, which I find incredible. Obviously we have a ton of girls in the Top 100 now as well (currently 13, the most of any country), and it says a lot about American tennis and it says a lot about the things to come for America as well.
USTA.com: Shelby, coming into that first tie in Maui as a rookie, what were your expectations?
Rogers: I had no idea what to expect, to be honest. Kathy was a new captain and I had never been a part of anything like that, never a hitting partner, never attended one, just watching them on TV. Everything that happened was a bonus there and it was so much fun and it definitely motivated me to try to get back on more Fed Cup teams.
Each one seems to get a little better. I've had such an amazing time in each. I get a lot of questions about which one was my favorite, but they're all amazing. I know it's sounds like a cliche, but they've all been so much fun and it's a nice changeup from the normal season. To compete and have so much success and be in the final, there aren't words to describe it, really.
USTA.com: What is it about representing your country that brings out the best in you?
Rogers: I think all of us are very patriotic people in general, so playing for your country definitely gives you a sense of pride and determination because you have the stars and stripes on your outfit. It gives you a little extra incentive. Then to see your friends over there on the bench cheering you on, it's really cool.
USTA.com And to be able to win with friends, how special does that make the whole experience?
Rogers: Amazing. To have those memories to share. We already have so many great memories, to add that in there, we're going to be friends for life. It's a really cool thing to share with them. I'm picturing in my mind us celebrating. Even the past two, we've had so much fun, it's been really cool and it gives us a lot of confidence and we've become that much closer.
USTA.com: Alison, looking at the year you've had, to be able to cap it off with a Fed Cup final, how much more meaningful does that make your 2017 season?
Riske: I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season. You never know if you're going to be chosen for Fed Cup, especially since America has so many players in top form, so it was a real honor just to get the call. I think we're definitely gunning for the cup.
USTA.com: Four days from now, you could be lifting the Fed Cup trophy. Can you put into words the significance of that considering the the history of the Americans that won the trophy in the past?
Rogers: To put that in the books and be part of that legacy is amazing. The players that we're following and the champions that have played on this team is incredible. To think I'm part of this team now is really humbling. I'm so honored to be here and I'm going to do everything I can to help us get that title and go down in the history books and bring that cup back to the U.S.