Serena leads U.S. Fed Cup team

April 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s playoff competition against Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, this weekend, with live telecasts Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22. The United States must defeat Ukraine to qualify for the 2013 Fed Cup tournament. Thirteen-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will join Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens and doubles World No. 1 Liezel Huber as they fight for a spot in next year’s Fed Cup competition after losing matches to Belgium and Germany last year.

The battle between the United States, a finalist during the 2009 and 2010 Fed Cup tournaments, and Ukraine will consist of two singles matches Saturday, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:30a.m. ET on Sunday.

Coverage from Superior Golf and Spa Resort, Kharkiv, Ukraine, is as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, April 21:

Sunday, April 22:

The United States and Ukraine have never faced each other in Fed Cup play. The American squad must defeat Ukraine in order to compete in the 2013 Fed Cup competition. The U.S. team enters this weekend’s match after defeating Belarus 5-0 in Worcester, Mass., in February. In 2009 and 2010 the United States reached the championship before falling to Italy both times. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000 when it defeated Russia 5-0 in Las Vegas.

The 2012 U.S. Fed Cup team is captained for the fourth year by star Mary Joe Fernandez, who as a player helped the team win the championship in 1996. Williams won her 13th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2010 and holds 12 doubles titles and two Olympic doubles gold medals with her sister Venus. McHale had a career year in 2011 when she beat former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and reached third round at the US Open. Stephens recently reached the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami before losing to World No. 2 Maria Sharapova. Huber, doubles World No. 1, won her fifth Grand Slam doubles title at the 2011 US Open with partner Lisa Raymond.

Ukraine enters this weekend’s playoff after falling to Italy 2-3 in the first round. If Ukraine wins this weekend it will qualify for a chance to play for the 2013 Fed Cup. Ukraine’s team is captained by Igor Dernovskyl and features Lesia Tsurenko, Elina Svitolina, Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiya Kichenok.

In addition to televising the United States and Ukraine’sFed Cup playoff this weekend, Tennis Channel will cover the 2012Fed Cup semifinal match between the 2011 champions,Czech Republic, and Italy in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Italy has won its past four consecutive matches against the Czech Republic and holds a 4-3 advantage. The most recent competition between the two nations was at the same stage of play in 2010 when Italy claimed a 5-0 victoryover the Czech team in Rome. Competition between the defending champions and Italy will consist of two singles matches on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. ET, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

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