Austria beat USA
Austria beats US in Fed Cup
Monday, 29 April, 2002
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, April 29 AP - Kicking Jennifer Capriati off the Fed Cup team cost the United States a chance at the title and led to an embarrassing first-round defeat to Austria today. The Americans, winners of a record 17 titles, were eliminated today when Barbara Schwartz upset Fed Cup rookie Meghann Shaughnessy, the fill-in at No. 1 singles following Capriati's sacking for breaking a team rule prohibiting her from practicing on her own.
"They were obviously the underdogs here and a lot of things went their way from the beginning with Capriati," Shaughnessy said. "I'm disappointed it came to this, there's no reason why we shouldn't have had four people here with the same goal in mind."
Schwartz, ranked 75th in the world, followed yesterday's victory over Monica Seles with a 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 9-7 win over Shaughnessy to give Austria its clinching third win in the best-of-five match. In the second reverse singles match, American Monica Seles beat Evelyn Fauth 6-3 6-3.
After beating Shaughnessy with a crosscourt backhand that dropped out of Shaughnessy's reach, Schwartz threw her arms in the air and screamed as her team-mates ran onto the court to hug her. She then grabbed an Austrian flag and ran around the court as Shaughnessy packed up her things and walked off, waving slightly to the sold-out crowd at the Old Providence Racquet Club.
"For us, when we came here, little Austria, it was the big United States, the No. 1 nation and such great players," Schwartz said.
"It's unbelievable for us to win here. I don't even find the right words."
Austria snapped a seven-match losing streak to the United States in Fed Cup play while the Americans were eliminated in the first round for the first time since 1997. Captain Billie Jean King's decision to throw Capriati off the team will undoubtedly be criticised now that the Americans are out of play.
Shaughnessy said it was the right call and had an idea what she might say to Capriati if given the chance.
"I'd like to ask her why she didn't want to follow the team and if it was worth it," Shaughnessy said. "I agree with the decision (to kick Capriati off) because the bottom line is there were rules and it was Jennifer's decision not to follow them."
King said she had no regrets."Absolutely not, we're a great team and every single person is on the same page with this," said King, who added that Capriati declined an offer to speak to the captain after her dismissal.
Under King's rules, all practice sessions are closed to the players' individual coaches and agents, and players are prohibited from practicing on their own time.
Stefano Capriati, the player's coach and father, tried to attend practice sessions early in the week but was barred by King.
It created tension that erupted Friday when Capriati said she planned to practice with her father and a hitting partner after the US team was done for the day.
King told her she was not allowed to do it, Capriati argued, and was kicked off the team. The Americans then had to forfeit their second singles match, starting the competition down 1-0.
King said she doubted Capriati would be back on the Fed Cup team next year. "I don't know, I just have to calm down and reflect," she said.
"I would imagine that probably as long as I'm captain, she won't be back, but that's just speculation."