FORMER FED CUP PLAYERS
ATTEND STARS-AND-STRIPES RECEPTION
Ashley Marshall | February 10, 2018
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Former American Fed Cup players and captains attended a stars-and-stripes reception on the eve of Team USA's tie against The Netherlands.
The group included players from multiples teams and eras, from two-time championship-winning captain Donna Fales to two-time Fed Cup finalist Melanie Oudin.
The reception and cocktail hour was held at the Omni Grove Park Inn and served as a way to recognize past champions while drawing a link to the current team. It was also a celebration of American tennis.
The former players will be on hand to cheer on the U.S. when it begins the defense of its Fed Cup crown this weekend in Asheville.
Fales captained the U.S. squad four years, winning the Fed Cup in 1967 and 1969. She had a 14-2 record at the helm and also guided the team to the final in 1974. ADVERTISEMENT
"For any of us who have played for our country, it's the most special thing you can do in a sport," said Fales, who helped the U.S. repeat as champions for the first time in 1967. "When you hear your national anthem, it's pretty moving. It is a special group, and it becomes a fraternity.
"Fed Cup is one of the few times you get to be part of a team, all working together for the same goal. It's fun to see the young players, especially the ones I don't know, and it's fun for me to be here to see the players that played in the '70s, the '80s and the '90s."
Among the players Fales traded stories with throughout the evening was Oudin, the youngest former Fed Cup player at the reception.
Oudin, a part of the team that contested the 2009 and 2010 finals against Italy, played 13 singles rubbers for the U.S. in seven ties over three years between 2009-11. She posted a 5-8 record overall, making her debut in the 2009 World Group quarterfinal against Argentina at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.
"I was 17, and I'd never played Fed Cup before," Oudin said of her debut. "Mary Joe [Fernandez] was a new captain, and I definitely didn't think I was going to be picked for the team. I thought it was pretty special. You see in a lot of Fed Cup ties some of the players play the best tennis they've ever played. It brings out the best in players because you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for a team and for your country. You want to do it for more than just yourself. It means a lot."
Oudin and Fales were joined by Kathleen Horvath, who represented the U.S. in the 1984 semifinals in San Paulo, Brazil, and Julie Ditty, who played for the U.S. in the 2009 World Group quarterfinal against Argentina at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Arizona.
Also in attendance was Andrea Leand, who partnered Martina Navratilova in a second-round match against Mexico at the Decathlon Club in Santa Clara, Calif., in 1982, and Mashona Washington, who played for the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2005 competition against Russia in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow and in the semifinals of the 2006 Fed Cup against Belgium in Sea’rena, Ostend.
Lori McNeil, who made her Fed Cup debut at Flinders Park in Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 in a first-round win over Switzerland and posted a 6-5 combined record over nine ties for Team USA, also attended, as did Chanda Rubin, who went 8-3 over five Fed Cup ties. Rubin, who is also in town as a commentator for the Tennis Channel, made her debut in the 1995 final on the red clay of the Club Tenis de Valencia in Spain, defeating Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in a dead rubber after the Spaniards had clinched the title.
"Fed Cup is a special thing," Rubin said. "Whenever we can come together – those that have played Fed Cup and who thought it was important to represent our country – when you can come together and watch the next generations of players play, it's really nice. It's great to catch up."
Former Fed Cup champion Lisa Raymond is also with the team in North Carolina this week, serving as a coach on captain Kathy Rinaldi's squad. Raymond played 15 ties for the U.S. between 1997 and 2008, the most of any American since Lindsay Davenport, who appeared 20 times, most recently in 2008.
Raymond, who made her debut in a 5-0 win over Japan at Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, had an 11-3 record in doubles and a 3-6 mark in singles play. She was on the title-winning team in 2000 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas and also helped the U.S. reach the 2003 final in Moscow.