With their three top ranked players (Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens) not available, the United States won a crucial 2016 Fed Cup playoff tie against Australia, 4-0. The win propels the Americans from World Group II to the World Group in 2017. All four American players made a contribution. The highest ranked player in the tie, Madison Keys, set the tone, winning 6-4 6-2 against Daria Gavrilova in the first rubber. That was followed by the USA’s Christina McHale coming back against former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, 3-6 6-1 7-5. United States Captain Mary Jo Fernandez surprised many by subbing Coco Vandeweghe for Keys in first reverse singles, but Coco came through with another comeback against Stosur, 2-6 7-5 6-4. As a 3-0 lead is insurmountable, the second reverse singles was not played. They did play the doubles, which was won by Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands over Gavrilova and Arina Rodionova, 6-4 6-1.
It was encouraging to see this particular American group play well. Not only did they get back into the World Group, they also won with young players that the USA can call on for years to come. Madison Keys is 21, Coco Vandeweghe is 24 and Christina McHale turns 24 next month. Sloane Stephens, who didn’t play this tie but would be available in the future, is 23. It’s true that Bethanie Mattek-Sands is 31. However, doubles specialists can be effective well into their mid to late 30s. This is a group that should maintain their place in the World Group and do great things for years to come.
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TEAM USA d. Team Australia, 4-0
Madison Keys, Christina McHale, Coco Vandeweghe, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Captain Mary Jo Fernandez