Too Much Too Soon for Rookie as U.S. Loses Fed Cup Final to Italy
by Jeremy Davis | November 7th, 2010, 8:43 pm

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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13 Comments for Too Much Too Soon for Rookie as U.S. Loses Fed Cup Final to Italy

Kimberly Says:

Didn’t see the matches, but not impressed with Mary Jo Fernandez decision making skills.


Any relation to the former NBA player Kiki Vandeweghe?

Marie Says:

Seems to me like Mary Jo perhaps succumbed to traffic of influences. Coco is NBA’s Vandeweghe’s niece. No doubt there was pressure to put her on. And bench Oudin? Nasty and ill-advised. You reap what you sow…and save for the WIlliams sisters, who are NOT a product of the USTA, Fernandez is sowing mediocre players.

Von Says:

Oh my, did MJ mess up or what?? Very disappoining Fed Cup final for the US, but we’ve won the most Fed Cups, so it’s alright if another country wins, as in sharing the wealth. However, this was not the best of strategies to bench Oudin and play Coco Vandeweghe.

WTF Says:

It’s disappointing that the US could not put together a better team than this. Do the Williams sisters ever play? What happened to the glory years of US dominance? If this is the best team they could muster for a Fed cup Final, it doesn’t bode well for future years. But then again, Fed Cup has never been all that relevant anyway.

MMT Says:

If MJF benched Oudin, it’s because she didn’t show her enough in training to have faith in her – she’s not a multiple slam winner who can be relied on to turn it on in the clutch, so I think her gamble on Vandeweghe was a reasonable one.

The real disappointment was Mattek-Sands losing that match with set points in the first after coming back from 2 breaks down. They’ve split their last two matches, but each one required a 7th game in the third to win, so that match was winnable, and she didn’t get it done.

MJF should be commended for guiding this team to two finals in a row – with no singles player in the top 50 available to her, that feat was a minor miracle in and of itself.

BigBanger Says:

I was there for the Saturday matches. The CoCo-Schiavone match was much more one-sided than the score (though CoCo did start out with 2 aces).

As pointed out, the real disappointment was the Matek-Sands match, as Bethany really started rolling when she came back from 1-5 in the first. Much, much more competitive match, and both players were going for it.

However, a woman next to us noticed even before the tie-breaker that Bethany was having some leg problems (a lot of stretching between points, even when she won the point, etc.). Very unfortunate, as she had Flavia pretty frustrated.

I think folks need to back off on the criticism of MJF. As pointed out, she managed to get some great results (up to the final) out of players ranked outside the top 50. The folks posting on here were not privy to what occured during team practices, so she was doing what she was selected to do: Put out the team she thought would be most effective.

Some of the posters seem to forget that Schiavone and Pennetta have both been top-10 players, with Pennetta being the better hard court player.

Hopefully this will be an experience Melanie can build upon, and an experience Bethany and CoCo can put behind them.

mmm Says:

Yeah, maybe people should be upset with Venus & Serena for not agreeing to play. Also, MJF MADE THE FINALS for the last two years playing WITHOUT A WILLIAMS! Those are some pretty awesome results considering we beat Russia, etc.

Wine Says:

MJF made a bad decsion when selecting her lineup. Coco was not ready to play on either day. Melanie would have been a better choice for the Sunday match after Coco played like she did on Saturday. I find it hard to believe that this was the best the US had to offer.

Maverick Says:

Under the circumstances, what Mary Joe Fernandez did was right. As some of you have said, yes she has achieved putting the Fed cup team in finals without top 50 players in the midst. Inconsistency is the matter with the ones that played for USA.
Regards, Coco Vandeweghe: I have seen Coco play since 2008, when she was 16 years old, in fact, I interviewed her. This girl has a big heart and is willing to work hard. Unfortunately, big first serve and great forehand is not all that is needed in tennis at this level. She, like all others in Fed cup team need to be consistent in skill, physical health and of course strong mentally.
I am afraid for Coco. Maybe it is too early to put her through such tournaments such as US Open, Australian Open and Fed Cup. Her performance in all the events was much below par. It is too many disappointments for a 18 year to take.
We would not like to lose a potentially future good player. I have seen too many times, talent is brought in to play at levels much too early, for them to handle. Some make it, most do not. This is a psychological trauma, a player sustaining such, may find not able to cope, despite good family support, as Coco has. It is important to nurture these upcoming players and only call upon them to play when they are ready skill wise, have physical ability and mental discipline to overcome the constant too and fro pressure of Slams and Fed cup. Coco must not be pressured to play at levels above her standard of play, just because there is a opening. Coco and people around Coco, inclusive her mother, Mary Joe Fernandez etc., must consider what is too Coco’s advantage in future.
I wish Coco Vandeweghe good luck .

jeanius Says:

I agree with the opinions re: Coco. People forget that Oudin’s Fed Cup play is when she was first noticed. She then went on to reach the Wimbledon quarters and her cinderella US Open in 2009. A week of bad practice is a possible reason for benching her;but we all live with hindsight. Congrats to Mary Jo and her team for reaching the finals. There is a lot to be learned from this year, and next year may have better results, even if the Williams sisters don’t play.

Maverick Says:

Fed Cup is not where player be tried. Let us see, if a player xyz can do the job or not. While it is good experience for the upcoming players to be given such a opportunity , and if the result is good , things are fine. The player takes this positive experience and improves on it. However, if the experience is negative, than there is a problem. Players at the age of 16-18 are vulnerable to negative experience, and so one must be careful not to expose them to further negativity.
While Melanie Oudin was successful on her debut, we have to see, if she can consistently produce good results. I wholeheartedly support her.
Let us understand, each player is an individual, who reacts to life as it comes, from the experiences each has had. Experiences of the upbringing, leads to development of personality and this personality is what helps overcome difficulties and success is achieved. For a tennis player, there are other experiences which take charge of the player, like experiences of training, experiences of learning skills, work ethics, outside influences pre, during and post tournaments, etc play a big role in the success of a player.
I would like to see a upcoming players not be exposed to early negative experiences, one after another, as is the case of Coco Vandeweghe. People around upcoming players must take care of players first and tennis later.

Luann Says:

Mary Joe clearly has no faith in her players. How in the world does she decide to put Coco in? Because she had one week of good practice? Because the USTA has a lot of money invested in Coco? She’s never been in this situation before. Terrible move! A captain should put the players in who have earned the right to play. They should create a winning line up. Melanie Oudin has played and succeeded in previous Fed Cup matches. Bethanie Mattek earned the right to play both days!!!!!! DUH…she’s the reason the US made it to the final. She was the Fed Cup HERO in Birmingham. She fought her heart out the first day of the final while and Coco was absolutely astonishing. But Coco played both days?? How does that make any sense? It is a shame because the US could have won this, and Mary Joe made the US look pathetic. Mary Joe clearly gave up, and she should be fired as Fed Cup Captain.

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