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Fernandez stepping down as U.S. Fed Cup captain

2/8/2014: Day 1: Christina McHale of the U.S gets encouragement from captin Mary Joe Fernandez during her match against Karin Knapp of Italy during their singles match on Day 1 of the U.S. vs. Italy Fed Cup First Round tie at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio.
October 6, 2016 04:16 PM

By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com

Longtime American tennis standout Mary Joe Fernandez is stepping down from her role as U.S. Fed Cup captain, ending an eight-yearrun at the team’s helm that included 10 team victories and trips to the Fed Cup Final in 2009 and 2010.

The USTA plans to begin an immediate search for her successor, with an eye toward naming a new captain in November. The role of that captain will expand to work closely with USTA Player Development.

“We greatly appreciate all that Mary Joe brought to the U.S. Fed Cup team, including reaching two finals,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams. “She is highly regarded by all of the players and has brought unparalleled experience and insight to the role. She will be missed.”
“Going forward, the role of the Fed Cup captain will be changing, and the captain will now work much more closely with USTA Player Development,” Adams added. “The captain will attend Player Development training camps and will lend coaching support for players at a number of tournaments throughout the year. This new approach will place additional time demands on any Fed Cup captain over the course of the year.”

Fernandez took over the captaincy from Zina Garrison in 2009 and led the U.S. to the Fed Cup Final each of her first two years as captain. She finished with an overall record of 10-8, making her one of only six captains in U.S. history to coach the U.S. to 10 or more victories, and her eight years leading the Fed Cup team trail only Billie Jean King and Marty Riessen (nine years each) for the most ever. She also served as the captain of the women’s Olympic tennis team in 2012 and 2016.

As a player, Fernandez thrived in competition for Team USA, participating in 18 Fed Cup ties and helping the U.S. to the Fed Cup championship in 1996. In addition, she won gold in women’s doubles at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games (alongside Gigi Fernandez) and bronze in singles in 1992.

Fernandez’s last tie as captain was the U.S.’s victory over Australia in April’s World Group Playoff, which propelled the U.S. back into contention for the Fed Cup title in 2017.

“Working with the players has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” said Fernandez, who also works as a tennis commentator and analyst for CBS and ESPN. “I have been proud to represent the USA in this role. My only regret is we did not bring home the Cup during my tenure as captain. While the changes planned for the captain's role are not a fit with my other work and family demands at this time, I plan to do my part to ensure a smooth transition to a new captain once selected and continue to contribute where I can to the success of the USA Fed Cup Team.”

Overall, the U.S. has won 17 Fed Cup championships, the most of any nation. Team USA is back in action at home in the 2017 Fed Cup First Round against Germany, Feb. 11-12. The site of the tie has not yet been determined.