Williams sisters lead U.S. Fed Cup team

February 5, 2015

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s first-round competition against Argentina in Buenos Aires this weekend, beginning at 9 a.m. ET Saturday, Feb. 7, and Sunday, Feb. 8. The United States must defeat Argentina to keep its hopes alive to qualify for the 2016 Fed Cup tournament. World No. 1 and reigning Australian Open champion Serena Williams will join her sister Venus, Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend as they fight for a spot in next year’s competition after losing matches to Italy and France last year.

In addition to televising United States-Argentina this weekend, Tennis Channel will cover the 2015 Fed Cup first-round competition between Poland and Russia live, in Krakow, Poland, beginning at 6 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. Australian Open finalist and World No. 2 Maria Sharapova will lead the charge against Poland and World No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska.

Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) will call the action this weekend, joined by Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport (LDavenport76) and two-time Grand Slam winner Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob). Both Davenport and Gimelstob represented the United States in Fed Cup and Davis Cup competition, respectively, during their careers, with Davenport contributing to Fed Cup championship-winning U.S. teams in 1996, 1999, and 2000.

The United States and Argentina have faced each other four times in Fed Cup play, with the United States winning all but one of those meetings. The most recent competition was during the 2009 Fed Cup first round, when the U.S. team beat Argentina 3-2 in Surprise, Ariz. Argentina captured its sole victory against the United States in 1993 in the quarterfinal. The American squad must defeat Argentina and then win another head-to-head Fed Cup competition in April in order to qualify for the 2016 tournament. This weekend’s match marks the second time in its history that the American squad will be playing outside of the Fed Cup’s top division. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000.

Retired tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, a member of the winning U.S. Fed Cup team in 1996, will lead the United States team for her seventh year as captain. Serena Williams captured her 19th Grand Slam singles title at this year’s Australian Open after defeating Sharapova in the final. Williams is now tied for third place on the all-time singles list, breaking her former tie with fellow Americans Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. She also holds four Olympic gold medals, including one in singles and three in doubles with her sister Venus. Vandeweghe recently advanced to the quarterfinals in Auckland, New Zealand, and enters this weekend’s match after a third-round appearance at the Australian Open. Townsend, Fed Cup newcomer and World No. 1 ranked junior in 2012, climbed the rankings last year after an impressive third-round performance at the French Open and won two $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit events.

If Argentina wins this weekend it will advance to the Fed Cup playoff in April and compete for a chance to qualify for the 2016 Fed Cup tournament. Argentina’s team is captained by Maria- Jose Gaidano and features Paula Ormaechea, Maria Irigoyen, Nadia Podoroska and Tatiana Bua.

In addition to daylong Fed Cup coverage this weekend, Tennis Channel will also periodically look in at the men’s tournaments in Montpellier, France; Zagreb, Croatia and Quito, Ecuador, this weekend, as part of its world-whip around telecast.