U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez took a chance this weekend, and that chance flopped to a final conclusion on Sunday when Italian Flavia Pennetta rolled over 18-year-old American Fed Cup rookie Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2 to claim the cup for Italy.
It was a familiar sight for U.S. tennis fans who saw Vandeweghe overwhelmed in her Fed Cup debut on Saturday, easily dismissed by Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-4.
Fernandez took a chance on Vandeweghe after a reportedly bad practice week from Melanie Oudin. Oudin has had a down year since her quarterfinal breakthrough at the US Open last year. Fernandez benched Oudin on Saturday, then on Sunday Oudin showed her veteran composure by not only upsetting Top 10er Francesca Schiavone but blowing out the Italian, allowing her only four games.
This weekend was too much too soon for Vandeweghe, who according to reports put in a sterling week of practice on the quick indoor hard court in San Diego. But the 18-year-old tightened up on the big stage. She sprayed forehands. She missed easy balls. Her big serves, one of her strengths, were too few.
There is no way to tell if Oudin would have won an opening-day match if she weren’t spurred on by the fact she was benched on day one. She looked pumped to take the court after being benched. Or if she would have won again on day two, forcing a deciding doubles match. But the Vandeweghe experiment was a failure. Coco Krispie has all the tools to become a professional, looking like a female version of Mark Philippoussis.
But Vandeweghe showed this weekend she isn’t ready for the big stage. She played in the Australian Open and US Open main draws in 2010 but won only one game in each appearance. That wasn’t a good looking resume for this weekend. Hopefully in the future but not now.
In the end it was a fine effort for a team that didn’t have a Top 50 player. What are your thoughts Tennis-X readers who saw the matches?
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