Stevenson hopes to kick it up a notch -
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Stevenson hopes to kick it up a notch

Stevenson hopes to kick it up a notch

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Alexandra Stevenson seemed to be enjoying her rookie appearance on the Fed Cup team even though she expected to be a bench warmer.

"I'm enjoying it immensely," she said. "It's just such a fun team to be on and it's been a great week. It's really exciting to have it in the United States my first time."

Stevenson splashed on to the tennis scene as a qualifier at Wimbledon in 1999 but since then she's struggled to get her ranking up high enough to qualify for Fed Cup.

"Alexandra Stevenson, I can tell you, for the last three years has begged me to be on the team, and I keep telling her it has everything to do with you," captain Billie Jean King said, "It's your ranking. I go by the rankings."

Stevenson raised her rank to a career-high 18 last fall, although it's slipped a bit this season to 26.

"I have to get my ranking up more," Stevenson, now 22 said. "My goal is to win a tournament and get in the top 10. That's my goal for this year."

In order to do that, she said, she needs more focus. She's turned to a martial arts teacher to find it.

"He's basing his training specifically for me," she said. "He does teach me how to kick just because I want to learn how to kick. But basically it's a lot of mind work.

"He makes me do all these exercises that are really hard like you're holding your arms up for like five minutes," she said illustrating with arms overhead and palms touching.

"And you want to die and you're like having a heart attack. And he's like 'keep the focus. You have to keep the focus.' And he does movement. He has me close my eyes and he moves around and I have to know where he is. It's a lot of spatial relationship and just knowing about your body and about your mind and how to control it."

She plans to play in Rome, Madrid and Paris and hopes to improve her game on dirt.

"I'm really giving it a go to learn how to play on clay. It really helps your game and it helps to be consistent. Good for your feet to move. It helps with your patience and a lot with your focus, so hopefully it will help me a lot this season."
-- Cynthia Faulkner

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