SMILES ALL AROUND FOR TEAM USA
AT FED CUP SEMIFINAL
Ashley Marshall | April 21, 2017
WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - When it comes to Team USA, smiles are a dime a dozen and jokes are as plentiful as the Tampa Bay sunshine.
Each player has a grin on her face that stretches ear to ear, and it seems like every free moment is punctuated by the sound of laughter.
U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi brought to Florida a largely unchanged Fed Cup team from the one that swept Germany in Maui, Hawaii, earlier this year. Top 50 players CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers return for the semifinals against the Czech Republic this weekend, as does world No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands. They're joined by world No. 36 Lauren Davis, who will be representing America for the third time in Fed Cup play.
The camaraderie is infectious in the Team USA squad days before the showdown with the three-time defending Fed Cup champions.
Here's what the players are saying about the atmosphere inside the camp.
Mattek-Sands: "I think Team USA brings this out of everyone. You get to know each other for the week following up to the week and Kathy planned a lot of fun activities for us to do. I think you feel like you have a little bit of a normal life and you let go. It's that combination keeping that balance that brings everybody's personalities out.
"We're getting LD [Lauren Davis] to come out of her shell. She's actually a riot. And it's hard not to laugh around CoCo. She is one of those people that really lets her personality out, she puts it out there, she's not a shy person. CoCo and I have known each other for a while now and we're good friends off the court and we both like having fun. I feel like I'm with that with a lot of my friends."
Rogers: "I'm so happy to be back with these girls. The camaraderie keeps coming up. It's not that we were just thrown together and we get along. We get along all year. We're always friends. When we come together, it's supernatural. I think we all have a lot of fun. Looking forward to a good weekend."
Davis: "I have had a lot of fun this year, playing well, enjoying myself. It's always nice to be a part of Fed Cup, have that team camaraderie. It's definitely a lot different than what we're used to during the year. So I'm just looking forward to having fun with the girls, competing, playing for my country."
Captain Rinaldi: "It's been amazing absolutely. To have players that really want to be here, it's their goal to win a Fed Cup, to work with them, to be around them, it's just been amazing. We had an amazing time in Hawaii. Three players returning from clinching that tie, then adding Lauren to the roster. These girls know each other. The camaraderie is very high. We have a lot of fun. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun. I think that showed in Hawaii, and hopefully that will show again this weekend. Everybody that comes to Fed Cup is a star and a great player. It's about being a team player this week. That's what's going to count on the weekend.
"I have a great team. Four terrific players, young ladies, to represent our country. Our expectation and my expectation is to support each other, have each other's backs, and go out there and compete. That's all. You know, they're very excited to be here and to represent their country."