RAYMOND HAS FOND MEMORIES
OF 2000 FED CUP WIN
Ashley Marshall | November 6, 2017
MINSK, Belarus – It's been 17 years since Team USA last won the Fed Cup, but one member of the U.S. staff in Minsk this week for the final remembers that triumph like it was yesterday.
Six-time Grand Slam doubles winner and U.S. Olympian Lisa Raymond was part of the quartet that won the Fed Cup title in 2000. Now she's on captain Kathy Rinaldi's coaching team, looking to be one of the few champions to win the trophy as both a player and coach.
Even though it was almost two decades ago, Raymond (pictured, third from right) has vivid memories of the 2000 Fed Cup final. She can still feel the indoor carpet court of the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas and remember the Thanksgiving dinner she shared with teammates Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles between Wednesday's win over Belgium and the start of Friday's final against Spain. ADVERTISEMENT She can remember getting hit in the back of the head by a flat Capriati serve down the middle when she was expecting it to be sliced wide. And she remembers the euphoria of helping the U.S. repeat as champions.
Raymond assisted good friend and first-year captain Rinaldi during the quarterfinal win against Germany in Hawaii and she was on the sidelines with the team when it toppled defending champion Czech Republic in the semifinals in Florida. Back again with the team in Minsk, she hoping to help today's top U.S. women experience that same thrill of winning a title for your country.
"Fed Cup and the Olympics have always been very dear to my heart and playing for the U.S. has always meant so much to me," Raymond said. "Whomever the coach was at the time – I’ve played for Martina [Navratilova], Billie [Jean King], Zina [Garrison], Mary Joe [Fernandez] – any time anyone asked me to play, I’d raise my hand and say absolutely.
"When I was asked to play to play on that 2000 team with three Hall of Famers, it was an honor and a privilege. There was such good camaraderie. For me now to be back in the final as a coach working with the girls in a different capacity alongside Kathy is so cool and such an incredible experience."
In 2000, the U.S. was always the favorite to repeat, especially with the lineup it had. Still, it had to defeat a Belgium team featuring Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters in the semifinals and then come back 48 hours later to face Spain, led by Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
In the final, nine-time Grand Slam singles champion and two-time Fed Cup winner Seles gave the U.S. the lead with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Martinez, and three-time major winner and Olympic gold medalist Davenport defeated Sanchez-Vicario, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, on give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at the end of Day 1.
Davenport clinched the Fed Cup at the start of the second day of play, dropping just three games against Martinez. Capriati, who would go on to win three of the next five Grand Slam women’s singles titles in 2001 and early 2002, made it 4-0 when Sanchez-Vicario was forced to retire early in the second set of their singles match, and Raymond and Capriati completed the sweep by rallying from a set down to beat Virginia Ruano Pascual and Magui Serna, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the final match of the tie.
"Just to be on that team with those ladies was incredible, and we had a blast," said Raymond, who was on the U.S. Fed Cup team for eight years. Only four other Americans – Davenport, Chris Evert, King and Venus Williams – have represented Team USA more often.
"When you have Jennifer Capriati playing No. 3 singles, she’s a Grand Slam champion, that’s pretty insane," said Raymond. "There was still definitely pressure on us to win at home, on home soil, in front of our home fans with the team we brought to the table. When people ask me about my career, one of my biggest highlights is winning a Fed Cup title and bringing that back to the U.S. It’s special for tennis players because we don’t get that opportunity all the time."
In 15 Fed Cup ties, Raymond went a combined 14-9, including an 11-3 mark in doubles play. But none of those wins can top the excitement of being on the court in the final match Spain. Raymond says the team spirit of this year's group is similar to that of the 2000 squad, especially when it comes to the pride with which the players represent he U.S. on the biggest stage.
"Kathy has done such an incredible job of getting these girls to want to play for their country," Raymond said of Rinaldi. "I can’t say enough about her as a captain. She’s incredible. She’s a dear friend of mine and I've known her forever throughout my career on and off the court. On paper, you would think we’d have a slew of Fed Cup titles, but at the end of the day, it’s about who plays and which players commit to playing at a tie or through the year and that’s one of things that so special about this team.
"Kathy has done such a good job of wanting the girls to play for their country. The whole Team USA concept that the USTA has tried to instill with the younger generation is awesome. When you have a captain that gives everything, you absolutely are going to want to give back and play for that person. You can see that the girls have rallied around her. What they bring to each tie, their passion for each country, you can’t put a number next to that."