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These Czechs determined to not get bounced easily
By DENNIS WHITTON, Sun Staff
April 26 2003
Lowell SUN

LOWELL--- They didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Alternating between shrugs and nervous giggles, the Czech Republic women's tennis players yesterday talked about their predicament.

Which, as the rest of the tennis world sees it, is this: Show up, get creamed in straight sets by the best players in the world, go home quietly.

Team Afterthought is trying not to view this weekend's Fed Cup matches in that same vein, but it must be hard.

This afternoon at 1 at Tsongas Arena, Daja Bedanova, ranked 44th in the world (and falling), will be served up to Venus Williams, ranked third, in the opening match of the Fed Cup tournament.

Immediately after that, Iveta Benesova, ranked 71st in the world (and rising) gets to swap strokes with the planet's best, Serena Williams.

Tomorrow, they'll switch partners, but the song is likely to remain the same. The U.S. is an overwhelming favorite to sweep the four singles matches. Only three are needed for victory.

The Czech Republic can, however, do one thing this weekend that the U.S. team can not: Pull off perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the Fed Cup. Maybe in the history of tennis.

Do you believe in miracles?!?!

Well, maybe.

"We'll try to surprise them and see how it goes," shrugged Bedanova, the most accomplished of the Czech players, but one who has fallen from 16th in the world last September to her perch at 44 today.

Czech Captain Petra Langrova-Pichalova picked up on that same point.

"The U.S. team is very strong," she said. "But we have nothing to lose. Nobody expects anything from us, so that's good."

U.S. Captain Billie Jean King says she expects good play from the Czechs. Overconfidence will not be a factor with her bunch, she declared yesterday at the official draw. Normally this would be brushed off as so much coachspeak, but with King you believe it.

If the Williams sisters so much as get down a break-point today, King is likely to have a McEnroe Moment. While she couldn't be happier with the close-knit team's chemistry, the laughing and joking will end with the first foot fault.

Billie Jean wants the Fed Cup back. The U.S. has been bounced out the last two years and the captain is bound and determined to hoist the Cup in November.

Venus and Serena Williams know what they can expect from Billie Jean, but they don't really know what to expect from Bedanova and Benesova. Serena says she's never played either one of them before and Venus can't really remember, but she thinks she's played Bedanova "at least once."

Bedanova recalls playing both sisters in the past. She wasn't really surprised that the memories weren't as strong for the Williams girls.

"I know what it's going to feel like being on the court with them," she said.

What it will probably feel like is a lamb being led to slaughter. But here's hoping that this lamb fights back strong, and that this Fed Cup weekend is more competitive than most people think it will be.

Go Team Afterthought!
 

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Serena as knowledgeable as ever I see, failing to remember that she played Bedanova only seven months ago at the US Open.
 

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Good point, Iconoclast. Still, that was the only match played at all on the US Open that day, what with the entire schedule being washed out by rain, so you'd think it might stick in her memory. Or at least that weird check-patterned outfit of Bedanova's would ring a few bells.
 

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its quite amazing how these players dont remember who they've played before

i know for a fact that martina has the memory of an elephant
she actually remembers matches from her junior days
 

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Iconoclast said:
Point taken. But you can't expect her to remember every 42 minutes of her life.
ROTFLMAO!!! Good counter!!!
 

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Well I think they won"'t do what they wanted lol...Though Rena had some difficulties Venus was just to tough!!!! Congrats girlz!:bounce:
 

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Some players have really bad memories. When Hrbaty gets asked about his next opponent he often gets the head to head wrong, sometimes he says he leads when its actually tied! Lots of other players like that too!
 

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Q. Do you know anything about your opponent, Serena?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Why don't you repeat the question so everyone knows what the question was.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Have I played my opponent, do I know my opponent. Which one, both of them?

My first opponent I've never played, Iveta Benesova. I never played her. I don't really know her name. But in tennis, you just have to go out and play your game.

Hendouble: For a person that claims to be indifferent to Serena and Venus, you seem to care a lot about their memories, interviews,grunts,fashion etc

I love it how non fans can't get enough of Venus and Serena
lol



Here is the full interview
U.S. Fed Cup Team Transcript - Draw Ceremony

4/25/03 8:47 PM

Q. Venus, can you tell us about your opponent. What do you know about her, your opening round opponent?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I've played her at least once. I don't know if I played her again, but she's a very good player, has a very solid game.

It's a very funny thing that happens when you get in a team competition - you feel more motivated because it's not just for you, it's for your team and

the whole country. That's the kind of competition I'll have to be ready for tomorrow.

Q. Venus, Serena, you've done this before but not since 1999. You say there's more motivation, but is there more nerves playing for your country? Is

it a little different? The Davis Cup players say that's all different, but they're guys so they fall apart (laughter). But how about you kids?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I suppose in a way it does feel different because it counts toward going to the next round and goes

down in history to be a winning team on the Fed Cup. But more than anything, it's just the whole experience of being on the team with the other

players and with coaches, and the whole experience is what you take to memory for the rest of your life.

Q. Can you talk about why you decided to play this year. Was it because the last couple years you saw the U.S. go down and you thought, "Well,

maybe they need us to come in and help them out a little bit"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena...

Q. You have to talk, Serena, a little.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I've always wanted to play the Fed Cup, but with the way the schedule is on the tennis tour, sometimes it's tough to make

a commitment so early. 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.

Q. Serena and Venus, can you talk about working with Billie Jean this week and how that's gone for you guys?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I'm leaving (laughter). No, I won't leave. Wait a minute (covering her ears).

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's been really great to have an opportunity to work with Billie. She's such a great coach. And Zina as well, she's
also the assistant coach on the team.

They really are able to see some things in my game that maybe my dad or my mom aren't able to pick up on at the moment. It's always good
to get a different view and to get different people to look at your game.

I think Billie is just fabulous to work with. She has the best sayings. She's extremely motivating. It just makes me want to work harder. Just to be

able to be out there with her, I think, is a great opportunity.

Q. Alexandra, it's your first time on the team. Talk about that. Billie was saying yesterday you've been bugging her for years to put you on the team,

and that you're excited as anyone out there now.

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I'm very excited to be on the team. My first year, I'm going to be a very good bench-warmer, good cheerleader
this week (laughing).

It's a great learning experience for me of just being with everyone - Meghann, Venus, Serena, Allie and Jimmy and Zina. Lynn Rawley is here.

I think it's a great opportunity to learn a lot this week. I've already learned a lot with my volleys. You have the two best serve-and-volley players in the

world coaching us this week. It's just an awesome experience for me, and I'm really excited to be here.

Q. Billie Jean, how do you keep this team from being overconfident?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, I think actually the better you get, the more you understand, the more history you have, the more you understand

that you can never take anything for granted. To keep your position at such a high level, as all of these players do, they know that they actually have

to work harder to maintain or to improve.

So I think being overconfident, that's the least of our worries on this team actually. The most difficult thing on this team is not to laugh...

I'm serious. We have laughed so hard this whole week. It's been a wonderful experience.

So, I mean, we talk about that, take one ball at a time, and really have high intensity is very important. But these players did not get where they are without those qualities, so they really do understand. If you talk to every single player or coach, they can all tell you how many losses I've had. You lose a lot, too. You learn that you don't like it, and that you improve from that.

But everyone here is not overconfident, I can tell you that. Zina and I and the rest of our hitting partners and everything, we're very clear to keep everyone grounded.

These players are very grounded also because of their caregivers. Their parents are people who have taken care of them all their lives. You can tell they all come from very good families and are very grounded and they know they're very blessed. I think that makes
for a great team.

Q. Had any of you ever heard of Lowell before (laughter)?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we hadn't. I hadn't.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't.

MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: No, I can't say that I had either (laughing).

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I haven't either, but I have to say Venus says "Lowell" very musically. She calls it "Lo-well" (laughter).

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I've heard of Lowell because my grandmother was born here (applause).

Q. Do you know anything about your opponent, Serena?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Why don't you repeat the question so everyone knows what the question was.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Have I played my opponent, do I know my opponent. Which one, both of them?

My first opponent I've never played, Iveta Benesova. I never played her. I don't really know her name. But in tennis, you just have to go out and play your game.

Q. Meghann, you're the only player on this squad who played last year and suffered the defeat. How motivating is it for you to be back on the team?

MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: The question was the difference between last year and this year.

Yeah, last year was my rookie year on the Fed Cup team. Although it was different to say the least, it was a great experience for me. I was really looking forward to this year and to hopefully have the opportunity to come and play again. It's so exciting for me to be on a team with such great players and great people. I hope that I will be back many years to come.

Q. Have you been able to do any sight-seeing?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Alexandra said Bally's Fitness Center. That's been what we do, and the spa. The spa and the Bally's Fitness Center, where we do weights and work out. It's a very full schedule.

VENUS WILLIAMS: We saw City Hall.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: That's right. You talk, go, go.

VENUS WILLIAMS: We've seen the whole city, City Hall, that takes time. Museum.

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: We had a police escort. How many people have a police escort in their lives? We got there in like 20 minutes. It was really cool.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: The Lowell Police and the Boston Police coordinated, thanks to Pete and Tom Pistoni, who are security people. They got that totally organized. It was absolutely flawless going into the city and back. Thanks to the police of both cities.

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: We had a fabulous dinner at The Palm thanks to Carol and Ann Marie, and Cobblestones in Lowell. No one can forget the Doubletree, on the 9th floor.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Don't tell them (laughter).

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Sorry. Okay. I never said that (laughter).

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: The rookie. Now the security alert - red alert, red alert.

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Orange.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Geez Louise. It's red, not orange.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Have I played my opponent, do I know my opponent. Which one, both of them?

My first opponent I've never played, Iveta Benesova. I never played her. I don't really know her name. But in tennis, you just have to go out and play your game.
 

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LAUGHING MY ASS OFF AT ICONOCLAST! that was very good!:)
 
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