By City News Service
Melanie Oudin kept the United States’ slim hopes of winning the Fed Cup final alive Sunday at the Valley View Casino Center, but Italy’s Flavia Pennetta ended the team’s hopes of an unprecedented comeback.
Oudin, a replacement for Bethanie Mattek-Sands, defeated Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-1, in the opening match, but Coco Vandeweghe lost to Pennetta, 6-1, 6-2, giving Italy an insurmountable, 3-1 lead.
Pennetta’s victory meant that a planned doubles match was canceled.
Vandeweghe, an 18-year-old from Rancho Santa Fe, broke Pennetta’s serve in the opening game of the first set, then lost the next six games.
“I had chances in a lot of my service games where she broke back,” said Vandeweghe, a niece of the former NBA player, executive and coach Kiki Vandeweghe. “I was just kind of on the losing end on the longer rallies.”
Oudin said she played “the best I’ve played in a long time” in her victory over the world’s seventh-ranked player and 2010 French Open champion.
“I felt confident out there,” said Oudin, who is ranked 67th and had lost both of her previous matches to Schiavone in straight sets. “I really played with no fear. I had a good game plan going in. I kept it going from start to finish and didn’t let her get back in the match.”
Mattek-Sands, who was suffering from a sinus infection and a sore throat, received medical treatment for cramps in both calves and shins during her 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to Pennetta.
No team has overcome a 2-0 deficit in a Fed Cup final.
Italy defeated the U.S., 4-0, in last year’s final.
The Fed Cup was established in 1963 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Tennis Federation. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sports, with 87 nations entered in 2010.
The U.S. leads all nations with 17 championships, but has not won since 2000.
San Diego was chosen by the U.S. Tennis Association over nine other cities to host the match, the first time the final was played in the U.S. since 2000.