Star Players Missing From U.S. Roster In Fed Cup Final In Prague
The U.S. again will play in the final of the Fed Cup this weekend against the Czech Republic in Prague but unlike last year, "simply filling out the team has proved to be an obstacle," according to Cindy Shmerler of the N.Y. TIMES. Sloane Stephens' agent said she is "off the grid." Neither Venus nor Serena Williams have "played a tour match since the U.S. Open." Madison Keys "withdrew before her semifinal at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China, last week." That has left U.S. Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi to "field a squad that includes three players -- Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar -- who have never played a Fed Cup match." Rinaldi said, "Ultimately, it’s the athlete’s choice and I respect that. We’re fielding the best team we possibly can with the players coming to Prague." Shmerler notes the "apathy toward team competition by the players is not new, and it isn’t limited to the women’s side." So far, any changes to Fed Cup "have been put on hold." ESPN's Patrick McEnroe said, "It’s easy to blame the players, but that’s a mistake. We ask a lot of them, time-wise, and what’s the payoff? The issue is a scheduling problem and it’s the fault of the governing bodies of the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/8).