Peters Township native Alison Riske, 23, will be the oldest member of the United States Federation Cup team that plays a young and inexperienced team from Italy in the first round at Cleveland’s Public Hall Saturday and Sunday.
Madison Keys, Christina McHale and Lauren Davis will join Riske. Coach Mary Joe Fernandez had to replace Serena Williams (back) and Sloane Stephens (wrist) because of injuries. Keys teammed with Riske in doubles at the Australian Open and the duo advanced to the third round.
The United States team came together days after Italy announced that its top veterans – Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone – requested to skip the first round because of a busy travel schedule.
Instead, the defending Fed Cup champions will be led by Karin Knapp (ranked 45th), Camila Giorgi (84th), Nastassja Burnett (163rd) and Alice Matteucci (704th).
The 18-year-old Keys is the top-ranked player participating, currently at No. 37. Riske is 47th, McHale is 59th and Davis 60th. Riske, however, advanced to the fourth round at last year’s U.S. Open and the third round last month at the Australian Open, upsetting 23rd-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia in the first round.
The first-round Fed Cup showdown begins Saturday with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. The schedule Sunday features the reverse singles followed by a doubles match.
Fernandez said she will not determine player order until Saturday.