Sunday, November 8, 2009
Italy won the 2009 Fed Cup today, and in doing so, became number 1 in the world in ITF rankings for the first time in history. The Italian team of Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani, and Roberta Vinci defeated the USA 4-0 to take the title. Even more impressive--the Italians defeated Russia 4-1 to get to the final. Prior to that, they also took France out of the competition with a 5-0 score.
Yesterday, Pennetta defeated Alexa Glatch and Schiavone defeated Melanie Oudin. Today, Pennetta defeated Oudin 7-5, 6-2, which gave Italy the win. It was the fourth time that Pennetta has scored the winning point in a Fed Cup tie.
The fourth singles rubber was skipped, and the doubles match was played as a dead rubber. Italy won that, too, defeating Liezel Huber and Vania King 4-6, 6-3, 11-9.
To me, Schiavone and Pennetta are Fed Cup. There is nothing quite like the attitude they bring to every event, and Schiavone in particular captures the spirit of Fed Cup like no one else.
Some special Fed Cup awards were also presented today. Mary Joe Fernandez, USA Fed Cup captain, and Silvia Farina, who has the most Italian Fed Cup wins in history, were given the Fed Cup Award of Excellence today. The award is presented by the ITF Hall of Fame & Museum and the ITF.
Fernandez, a member of the winning 1996 USA Fed Cup team, coached the USA to its first final in six years. Farina played on nine Italian teams, and recorded 23 Fed Cup victories.
On Thursday, Melanie Oudin was presented with the inaugural Fed Cup BNP Paribas Heart Award. The new award recognizes "a player who has represented her country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during Fed Cup by BNP Paribas." Oudin was selected by fans to be the first recipient. She was given a silver bracelet and $5,000 to donate to the cause of her choice. Oudin gave the money to Children's at Egleston, the hospital where her younger sister had open-heart surgery.