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tennisIlove09
Apr 17th, 2003, 08:20 AM
Williams sisters lead U.S. against Czechs


April 16, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) -- A U.S. squad led by the Williams sisters will compete in the Fed Cup next week against a Czech team whose top player is ranked No. 44.

No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 3 Venus Williams were chosen for the squad in February, but teams made their official announcements Wednesday. Meghann Shaughnessy and Alexandra Stevenson complete the U.S. team.

The Americans, captained by Billie Jean King, play their best-of-five first round on April 26-27 in Lowell, Mass.

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Daja Bedanova, at No. 44, is the highest-ranked player for the Czech Republic. She was once ranked as high as No. 16 and beat Monica Seles en route to the quarterfinals of the 2001 U.S. Open.

She is joined by No. 73 Klara Koukalova, No. 74 Iveta Benesova and No. 163 Eva Birnerova.

Slovakia defeated Spain to win the Fed Cup last year. But with the Williams sisters playing, the Americans are favored to capture the 16-team event for their 18th Fed Cup.

Belgium, the 2001 Fed Cup winner, opens at home against Austria. The Belgians are strong with No. 2 Kim Clijsters and No. 4 Justine Henin-Hardenne.

In other matches, it's Slovakia-Germany, Argentina-Slovenia, Sweden-Italy, Russia-Croatia, Spain-Australia and Colombia-France.