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08 November 2009

Blog: It's all about Italy


NEWS ARTICLE

By 

  • Sandra Harwitt

Italy - 2009 Champions

It concluded as anticipated – the Italians reigning supreme over the United States after securing an untouchable 3-0 edge to win the 2009 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title. A second ever Fed Cup success for Italy and the third of four years that the Italians have been showcased in the Final, previously winning in 2006. The success makes Italy the top nation in the Fed Cup rankings come Monday morning, and rightly so. They’ve proven to be a powerhouse of the international competition in recent years.

The team was delirious, the fans were wild with cheer, and the passionate Italian music shrieked out of the loudspeakers to paint a fervent scene of excitement. Pennetta hugged and kissed Captain Corrado Barazzutti after her final backhand passing shot scored a 75 62 win over Melanie Oudin to polish off the Fed Cup victory.

The 'godly one'


Remember Barazzutti from yesterday, when Francesca Schiavone deemed him the godly one? Well, today Pennetta confirmed “he can be.” However, the lowdown is that Barazzutti wasn’t really looking like a God when the team – yes, those women players are strong – lifted him above their heads with a little help from some external team members and kept throwing him in the air. But he certainly looked like a happy camper, however, part of that might have been that they didn’t drop him on his head.

Celebrations continued with the squad doing a run around the court with the Italian flag – always a pre-requisite and a fabulous photo opportunity. One must say that Pennetta looked ready to draw the lines on the festivities when she was being chased down by someone waving a spraying bottle of champagne in her direction. But it’s all in good fun, isn’t it, when you’re champions of the world!

As for Oudin, she took the loss hard and while a competitor should do so, she also needs to be mindful of being thrown into the team leader position when Serena Williams pulled out of the weekend at the last minute. Oudin represented the U.S. with grace and a great effort in fighting to the very last point and is bound to be a Fed Cup force in the future.

Fernandez and Farina honoured with award


The second day of the Fed Cup Final began with a special award presentation to name the 2009 Fed Cup Award of Excellence winners. And the envelope please – debut U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez and Italy’s Silvia Farina take home the honours.

Fernandez was a member of the 1996 winning Fed Cup team and, as captain, led the U.S. to its first Fed Cup Final since 2003. Farina represented Italy on nine Fed Cup teams and three Olympic teams, winning 23 Fed Cup matches, which is more than any other Italian player.

Fernandez and Farina had a group of fans calling their names out to pose for photos during the on-court ceremony presided over by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum President, Emerita Jane Brown Grimes, and past Fed Cup Award of Excellence recipients, Lea Pericoli of Italy (won in 2007) and Francoise “Frankie” Durr of France (won in 2005).

“Thank you very much and I’m very proud to receive this award,” Fernandez said. “I am so happy to be involved again in Fed Cup. I think I’m the first American to win this very special award.”

As for what Farina said, well I must admit my Italian isn’t just dodgy, it’s non-existent. So while I’d love to tell you all her words, I am unable to do so. However, what I can say is the fans responded favourably to what she said and she looked happy to be honoured.

Zimmer framed

 

Lots of the fans, which I must say were heavily weighted as a male audience, were taking photos around the grounds and of the players. But, of course, the media relies on photojournalists to do the professional job and here at the Fed Cup finals the Signore Snapper is the well-known Paul Zimmer of Germany. Where there’s tennis, Zimmer will be – check out his photo and make sure to look for him at your next tennis outing.

Some would say it’s appropriate that the media was located in the children’s playground area of the Rocco Polemeni – the private club site hosting the Fed Cup Final in Reggio Calabria. While I didn’t notice any media swinging or sliding, it might be because they save those skills for the interview room where you often need initiative to get great answers to great questions – Okay, no laughing here necessary!

Almost every tournament site features booths on site with items for purchase. Usually the offerings are related to the sport – did you know that you can buy practically anything you want with a tennis racket and/or ball emblazoned on it? Here at Reggio Calabria, however, the booths featured less about tennis and more about what you expect to see in Italy – stunning pottery, Murano glass, and jewelry. Now that’s clever – bring the tourist goods directly to the tennis fans.

Best gelato in Italy?


I realise everyone is now waiting for the report from yesterday’s taste testers, who jaunted off to Cesare, the gelato joint that the locals claim is the best in all of Italy. There were four of us who chose gelato over another bottle of wine after our scrumptious dinner of antipasti and pizza at Via Veneto (highly recommended as is Etoile if you’re heading to Reggio Calabria). Let’s just say that the fitter, skinnier members of our group stayed behind, but those of us who went gelato weren’t disappointed.

While we’ve all had our share of gelato in Italy, none of us felt we could consider ourselves expert enough to weigh in on the best in Italy claim. However, none of us were disappointed (my Mozart and café flavors were delectable) and we can say at 11 o’clock at night the place was teeming with patrons despite the fact it was a chilly night when most might not favor ice cream for dessert. Yes, stick Cesare on your must-do list if you’re head to Reggio Calabria anytime soon.

Now, there might be a number of tennis fans out there who are sad that this is the final blog from this year’s Fed Cup finale extravaganza. Please, do not despair. There’s good news as in just a few weeks time it will be ‘Blog from Barcelona’ time on the Davis Cup website (DavisCup.com) when Spain takes on Czech Republic for the honour of being the 2009 Davis Cup champions.

ABOUT OUR BLOGGER...


Sandra Harwitt
Sandra, an American sportswriter for longer than she's willing to admit, has travelled the world to cover tennis for major publications, such as ESPN.com, The Miami Herald, and Associated Press. Her biggest problem of late is managing to pack worldwide purchases into suitcases and still meet the airline weight restrictions.

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  • More photos

    • Italy - 2009 ChampionsCrowds arrive for Sunday's action
    • Local wares for saleThe media playground in the press area
    • Our resident photographer - I-have-no-accent-in-my-English - Paul ZimmerFlavia Pennetta (ITA)
    • The Italians celebrate as a teamItaly does a lap of honour
     
 
 

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