VANDEWEGHE, ROGERS TO SET TONE
IN FED CUP SEMIFINALS
Ashley Marshall | April 21, 2017
WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. – CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers will look to set the tone for Team USA this weekend when they take the court for the opening two singles matches of the Fed Cup semifinal tie against the Czech Republic.
World No. 24 Vandeweghe, the top-ranked American on the team, will play in-form Marketa Voundrousova, ranked No. 233, in the first match Saturday. That will be followed by No. 49 Rogers making her Fed Cup singles debut against Czech No. 1 and world No. 35 Katerina Siniakova.
"I've been training really well this week," Vandeweghe (pictured above right) said after Friday’s draw ceremony, held on the fairway of the 18th hole at the Saddlebrook Resort. "I've been here since Sunday night, in Florida, getting used to the heat and humidity that is not there in California. ADVERTISEMENT So I am as prepared as I'm going to be. I've worked hard to get in this position to be able to represent my country."
U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said the team is excited and ready to go after a tremendous week of preparation on and off the court.
"They have a very strong team," Rinaldi said of the Czech Republic. "They have Siniakova, who's ranked 35 in the world, and Vondrousova, who just won a WTA event. We're not going to underestimate them. They have a lot of depth and we're ready. Doesn't matter who's going to be on the other side of the court, we're going to compete, support to each other, have each other's backs no matter what, and that's what it comes down to."
Vandeweghe and Fed Cup rookie Vondrousova, who won her first WTA title in Biel, Switzerland, last week, have never played before. Rogers and Siniakova have met once previously, with the Czech winning in straight sets in the qualifying tournament for Rome in 2015.
On Sunday, each team's No. 1 player is scheduled to face one another, followed by the No. 2s going head to head. Barring any late changes to the lineups, Vandeweghe would be playing Siniakova for the first time, while Rogers and Vondrousova would meet for the second time. Last year at a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event here in Wesley Chapel, Rogers rallied to beat Vondrousova, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3, on a green clay court in the round of 32.
In the doubles match, Lauren Davis and world No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands are set to face Denisa Allertova and another Fed Cup first-timer, Kristyna Pliskova. Mattek-Sands has an 18-2 doubles record this year, and a perfect 6-0 mark in Fed Cup doubles play, but she would be partnering Davis for the first time.
In total, the players on the U.S. team have combined to play in 16 Fed Cup ties, compared with the Czech Republic players who have contested a combined two doubles matches and zero singles matches in Fed Cup.
Despite the lack of international team experience, Czech coach Petr Pala said his team is ready for the challenge.
"I'm feeling great," said Pala, who has led the Czechs to five Fed Cup titles in the last six years but is without a number of its top players this week. "I hope the girls are, too. That's more important than how I feel. I feel well about the girls, that they practice hard. I think we are enjoying whole week and looking forward. It's coming tomorrow, so let's see. If you look on ranking, on the paper they are strong favorites. What we going to try as much as we can is to make it really difficult for them. We came here to win."
Rinaldi said she expects a strong home-court advantage for Team USA this weekend and she likened the atmosphere to Hawaii, where the U.S. swept Germany in the quarterfinals earlier this year.
"It's always nice to play at home, to have that support," Rinaldi said. "I think that's what these players love. They feed off it, and the fans feed off them. So it's an incredible atmosphere that we saw in Hawaii. "We're expecting another great crowd here in Tampa. I think that's exciting. That's what we play for. It's going to be a lot of fun. The girls are ready and prepared. We know we're up against some tough opponents. Like the girls said, we're just going to compete. We're going to leave it all on the court."