LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King hopes to assemble a formidable line-up including Jennifer Capriati, the Williams sisters and Monica Seles when America launches its assault on the team trophy next month.
The United States will take on Austria in its first round match at the Olde Providence Racket Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 27 and 28.
If King gets her way, the U.S. squad could boast four of the top 10 players in the world — including Nos. 1 and 2 in Venus Williams and Capriati.
It will be the first Fed Cup tie for the United States since pulling out of last year’s final in Madrid due to security fears following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Nobody was more disappointed than King at the U.S. decision to stay away and she is determined to bring the trophy back to America this year.
“I think we were very upset we didn’t go. It was very sad. The U.S. has played in every Fed Cup since 1963,” King said in a teleconference.
“We don’t like to not… we are not a no show kind of people. We show up. We play. We win.
“At this time we plan to bring back the Cup to the United States of America. And Charlotte is our first stop.”
WHATEVER IT TAKES
King’s task will be made much easier if all the players she hopes to roll out make themselves available for the team competition.
“I am talking to all the players right now, the players’ agents, the parents, whatever it takes to communicate with the players and to find out if they are available,” she said.
“I have asked them to tell me in the next week and a half or so, so we should be able to tell you what is happening pretty quickly. In another couple of weeks we should certainly know what is going on.
“But, yes, I have been talking to the players. Nobody has said no yet, so that’s good news and, just thinking about it, I think it’s a good time of the year for us because the players are still fresh.
“To be honest with you, I have a harder time at the end of the year getting players, so I think that bodes well for us coming to Charlotte.”
One player King knows she can rely on is Seles. The Yugoslav-born baseliner is one of the most loyal players in the competition.
“Monica tends to just say: I will be there,” King said.
“Monica has just been exceptional as far as saying if you want me, I will be there. That’s the kind of carte blanche you want with the players because then I know what is happening. There is consistency there.
“Monica seems to be very nationalistic. I think when you become an American citizen… you’ve come from a different country, I don’t know, I think there’s even sometimes a stronger sense of opportunity and understanding of what they have and I think that sometimes make a difference too.”