U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez selects Christina McHale and Madison Keys to be her starting singles players for this weekend's first-round tie against Italy in Cleveland. World No. 62 McHale will open against Italy’s Karin Knapp, and Keys will follow against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
Both teams are young and inexperienced, but McHale has played four prior Fed Cup matches, winning all of them in 2012 against Belarus and Ukraine. Keys is a rookie to the competition, as is Giorgi, while Knapp has played four Fed Cup matches before, going 2-2.
Americans Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, and Venus Williams all declined invited to play due to injuries, while defending champion Italy’s Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta, and Francesca Schiavone asked for the tie off due to heavy scheduling.
Fernandez likely picked McHale to start over No. 46 Alison Riske based on Fed Cup experience. Riske and Lauren Davis are scheduled to play Italy's Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci in the doubles match on Sunday.
"This is sort of what you wish for. What you want to create is this feeling of pride when you get asked to play for your country and your team," Fernandez told USA Today. "As a player, I remember being called—and you were there."