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US team in relaxed form for Fed Cup tie

By Matthew Cronin - *******************

FROM THE FED CUP IN LOWELL, MASS. – How great is the US team chemistry at Fed Cup this week?

So good that last night, after the USTA official dinner, Venus and Serena Williams, Alexandra Stevenson and Meghann Shaughnessy, plus the team coaches and hitting partners laughed all the way back to the hotel after Serena broke a heel on her pump. The humor surrounded imagining how silly Serena would have looked limping around the dinner while thanking the mayor of Lowell, and then crashing into the Czech team while presenting them with Crystal Tiffany Bow Boxes.

"We were thinking how funny it would have been if Serena had walked out there with her heel off," Venus told *******************. "It was so funny. But if she would have gotten injured, now that wouldn’t have been funny."

Venus was in a great mood on Friday, either due to the fact that her Italian male friend is with her or because she looks fabulous in her new, bangs-down-to-the-eyes, "Heidi Klum" haircut. "I like to be different," she said. "I was tired of the same style and my old style was so hard to deal with."

The bubbly Stevenson was in rare form on Friday, giving away the name and floor of the hotel the team is staying at to Lowell residents. Captain Billie Jean King smiled a lot, Shaughnessy was quite chummy and coach Zina Garrison was light and airy.

It’s a far cry from last year’s tie in Charlotte, N.C., when thick tension permeated the air. Jennifer Capriati, who was kicked off last year’s team for violating team rules, is not on this squad and her strong-willed dad/coach, Stefano, isn’t around either.

"This is a dream for how a team should get along and how a week should go," Garrison said. "Venus has stepped in and taken control as a leader and they are all getting along great. They never stop laughing together. … For me it was a turning point. [Last year] I was thinking, ‘If it's going to be like this every week, will it be worth it?’ Everyone was so stressed out that week it was almost impossible. They could have brought in players from anywhere with canes and they would beaten us. Everyone was acting out and acting differently because of all the pressure that was around because of what was happening with Jennifer and her father."

Added Shaughnessy, who lost the clincher to Barbara Schwartz that weekend, "We had a great team there as well but what happened with Jennifer put a damper on things. It was really a shame. I’ll never forget that experience. I’m over it now. But I learned a lot from losing a tough match under pressure. A lot of disappointing things happened that week. If I have to narrow down this week to one thing, it’s laughter. We’ve been joking and playing pranks on each other. This is a great group."

This is the first appearance for the Williams sisters in Fed Cup since 1999 when they helped lead the US to the title over Russia. Venus said that heavy scheduling on the regular tour has made it difficult for Serena and her to commit in the past three years.

"I've always wanted to play, but with the way the schedule is, sometimes it's tough to make a commitment so early," Venus said. "And sometimes I do take a week to rest. But it definitely is a high priority for me and probably for Serena also. We love being here and love being with the other players also. The whole experience is what you take to memory for the rest of your life."

Venus said she is reveling being in a team environment again. "Serena, myself and Alexandra are extremely silly," she said. "All we do is laugh and joke all day. Meghann is quiet and soft-spoken, but now she’s joining in on the fun and nonsense. With Serena and Alexandra, I can’t keep up with them they are so crazy."
 

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Thanks TennisChick...!!!

:cool: What a wonderful time "this" team appears to be having during the 2003 Fed Cup Tie!! I guess everyone is so motivated to make it work and not have a "repeat" of last years events!!!

Good luck to team USA, and continued success for Captain BJK and Co-Captain, Zina Garrison!! :hearts: :hearts:

Thanks TennisChick for sharing this article with us!! :worship: :worship:
 

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so far...so good. two solid wins! go Team USA!!! :worship:
 
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