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U.S. Fed Cup team has newcomers vs. Italy

Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:47 AM
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RIMINI, Italy, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Jamie Hampton and Varvara Lepchenko play their first Fed Cup matches this weekend, taking the U.S. singles spots against Italy.

With Fed Cup veterans Serena and Venus Williams -- together 22-2 in singles matches -- and with rising star Sloane Stephens not among nominated U.S. players for its first-round Fed Cup series, U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez turns to two women who have never before been in a Fed Cup competition.

Hampton is to open the best-of-five series Saturday against world No. 7 Sara Errani, with Lepchenko scheduled to follow against 16th-ranked Roberta Vinci. The schedule calls for reverse singles to open Sunday's play, with Errani facing Lepchenko and Vinci playing Hampton.

The final match has U.S. doubles specialist Liezel Huber teaming with Melanie Oudin against Italians Nastassja Burnett and Karin Knapp.

The United States owns 17 Fed Cup titles but hasn't won since 2000. Italy had three titles over the 2006-10 period, beating U.S. teams in the finals in both 2009 and '10.

The Italy-U.S. winner goes against either the Czech Republic, which has won the last two Fed Cup titles, or Australia in the tournament semifinals April 20-21.

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