First, thanks to the BJCC staff in Birmingham for making the event exciting, and for being so nice to all the visitors. The seats are quite comfortable in the arena, and we had a great view of the court. I attended the Davis Cup event there last year, and was impressed then with how smoothly everything ran.
Some of the matches could have been better, but in Fed Cup, one should expect surprises of all kinds. Both Elena Dementieva and Bethanie Mattek-Sands added some excitement by coming back after losing the second set, and Liezel Huber put on an entertaining show in the final rubber. I don't mean to take anything away from Mattek-Sands, whose doubles play was excellent; it's just that Huber made a few truly memorable shots, and she is, after all, somewhat of a show-woman.
Speaking of Huber, when handed the microphone at the end, she told a wildly cheering crowd that she almost cried when she saw the American flag, etc., but there was no more talk of "I'm more patriotic than you are," and "I came from a Third World country with just my suitcase and a dream." In other words, she toned it down--for Huber.
The banners of Mattek-Sands and Melanie Oudin standing against the backdrop of the Birmingham skyline were a nice touch, as was the sign painted on the stairs at the entrance to the arena.
The deejay was very good, the face-painting was done well, and Ace the eagle mascot was a fan (including this fan) favorite.
Team USA's standout player was Mattek-Sands, who played two live rubbers on the same day. The first one was a 2-hour and 34-minute match against Ekaterina Makarova, and the second was the deciding doubles rubber. Mattek Sands is the third member of the USA team to win consecutive live matches and gain victory for the USA. Lindsay Davenport did it in the semifinals in 1995, and Mary Joe Fernandez did it in the quarterfinals in 1996.