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U.S. names Fed Cup playoff team

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The USTA and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced today that 13-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams will be joined by Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, and world No. 1 doubles player Liezel Huber in representing the U.S. against Ukraine in the 2012 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff at the Superior Golf & Spa Resort in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 21-22. Jaime Hampton will also travel with the team. Fernandez will ultimately choose her four-person lineup prior to the draw ceremony on April 20.

The best-of-five match series begins on Saturday, April 21, with two singles matches and is followed by two reverse singles matches and the doubles match on Sunday, April 22. Tennis Channel will present daily coverage beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The match will mark the first-ever matchup between the U.S. and Ukraine in Fed Cup competition. The winner of this match will advance to the 2013 World Group and a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. The loser will be relegated to World Group II in 2013.

“I know the team and I are very eager for the task ahead of us against Ukraine. This is our opportunity to play for our spot back into the world group for next year,” said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “Playing on the road always presents a difficult challenge, but our team has been playing very well lately and will be ready to compete.”

Williams, 30, will make her second consecutive appearance in Fed Cup after playing in the World Group II first round against Belarus where she won both singles matches to remain undefeated in her Fed Cup career. She captured her 13th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2010, and then returned from a year-long injury hiatus to reach the final at the 2011 US Open. She has also partnered with sister Venus to win 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, and has been ranked No. 1 in the world in both singles and doubles. Williams is 6-0 in Fed Cup singles play, and helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. She and Venus also won the Olympic gold medal in women’s doubles in 2000 and 2008.

McHale, 19, will be making her third consecutive appearance on the U.S. Fed Cup team and fourth overall. She was dominant in the World Group II first round against Belarus, losing just five games in two singles matches to record the first two Fed Cup wins of her career. McHale had a career year in 2011, defeating world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open Series event in Cincinnati and then upsetting Marion Bartoli en route to the third round at the US Open. She is coming off a third round appearance at the 2012 Australian Open and is currently a career-high No. 33 in the world. McHale trained full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., from 2007-10, and currently trains at the USTA Training Center-East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Stephens, 19, is currently ranked a career-high No. 75, and reached the third round of the US Open in 2011. She reached the second round of the 2012 Australian Open, and most recently the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami as a qualifier. The daughter of former New England Patriots running back John Stephens, she won the girls’ doubles titles at the last three Grand Slam events of 2010, and helped lead the U.S. to the 2008 Junior Fed Cup title.

Huber, 35, has won seven of her nine career matches for the U.S. Fed Cup team, including tie-clinching semifinal matches in both 2009 and 2010 with partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Currently the top-ranked doubles player in the world, Huber owns five Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, including the 2011 US Open title, and won the 2010 US Open mixed doubles title with Bob Bryan. Born in South Africa, Huber spent four years on the South African Fed Cup team (1998-00, ’03) where she posted a 9-3 overall record (9-2 doubles) in 12 ties. She became a U.S. citizen on July 25, 2007, with the hopes of playing for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games (where she teamed with Lindsay Davenport to reach the doubles quarterfinals). Huber and Martina Navratilova are the only players in Fed Cup history to have represented another nation before playing for the U.S.

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition with 90 countries competing in 2012. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to usta.com/fedcup.

Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Fed Cup Team.

 

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