Fed Cup Final starts in



07 November 2010

Blog: Family ties



  • Sandra Harwitt

Coco Vandeweghe (USA)

Fed Cup debutante CoCo Vandeweghe comes from an impressive lineage, there’s no doubt about it.

Vandeweghe’s mother, Tauna, was a talented swimmer noted for her backstroke technique and competed in the 1976 Olympics. She was also an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic volleyball team.

But, primarily, the Vandeweghe’s are notable as a famous basketball family.

CoCo’s grandfather, Ernie Vandeweghe, a physician, played basketball for the New York Knicks. Her uncle, Kiki Vandewegh, played on a number of NBA teams including the Knicks, and has been in the role of General Manager for the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets.

Even her late maternal grandmother, 1952 Miss America Colleen Kay Hutchins, who died earlier this year, had a basketball connection beyond her husband and son.

Her brother, Mel Hutchins, also played for the Knicks. If you Google Colleen Kay Hutchins, you’ll see that CoCo’s the spitting image of her grandmother right down to the widow’s peak forehead.

Vandeweghe’s stepfather, Michael O’Shea, is Parade Magazine’s contributing fitness editor and at one time worked as a physical trainer with the likes of Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe.

CoCo’s paternal grandmother, Theresa Mullarkey, the longtime Chancellor of C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, and also a trustee of Long Island University, also had a past in modeling. She worked with the Ford Modeling Agency in her youth and had a cover in Harper’s Bazaar, and appeared in Glamour and other magazines.


California, pretty please

One person who was thrilled with the choice of San Diego as the venue for this year’s Fed Cup final was Nicola Pietrangeli, Italy’s Fed Cup ambassador.

In fact, the 77-year-old, considered to be the most successful Italian man to play the game, is taking some credit for the choice of California.

Pietrangeli actually put in the request at last year’s Fed Cup final – Italy beat USA 4-0 in Reggio Calabria – for a final in California this year.

Apparently, Pietrangeli was convinced that this year’s Fed Cup final line-up would remain the same and he mentioned to USTA President Lucy Garvin that he would like to visit California.

Garvin verified the story and everyone was smiling because San Diego is the picture-perfect Southern California seaside city.

Pietrangeli, who was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986, reached four Roland Garros final, winning back-to-back titles in 1959 and 1960. He played in a record 164 Davis Cup rubbers, winning a record 120 of those matches, and was a former Davis Cup captain.


Famous Faces

Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport, two of California’s greatest women’s players, are calling the Fed Cup matches for Tennis Channel this weekend.

Both were former Grand Slam champions – Austin won two U.S. Opens and Davenport owns one title each at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

And both certainly did their part for Fed Cup during their careers: Davenport played in 20 Fed Cup ties for a 33-3 winning record, while Austin, who had an abbreviated career because of injuries, played in 14 ties for a 13-1 winning record.

Tracy isn’t the only Austin in the crowd. Her older sister, Pam, a former WTA Tour player, is also in the house in her official capacity as the co-chair of the U.S. Davis Cup-Fed Cup committee. Pam Austin’s day job is as the Tennis Director of the prestigious Riverside Country Club.

Frenchwoman Francoise (Frankie) Durr, the 1969 Roland Garros champion, was also in the house as an official observer for the Fed Cup committee.

Durr won 26 titles, including a Roland Garros victory, during her career. She also was a Fed Cup stalwart for France, playing in 27 ties for a 31-17 winning record.

And besides for Nicola Pietrangeli being on hand to root for the Italian squad, Lea Pericoli, 75, was also sitting courtside.

Pericoli played in 17 Fed Cup ties for a 15-15 record for Italy. She went on to a career as a print and broadcast journalist in Milan.

Also spotted in the crowd was 89-year-old Pancho Segura, the Ecuadorian-born, dual American-Ecuador citizen, who was a highly ranked player in his day.

He also won the NCAA singles title at the University of Miami for three consecutive years in the 1940s, but is probably most recognised as being the former coach of Jimmy Connors.


A sweet tweet from Serena

The missing Serena Williams, who is still on the mend from stepping on glass this summer, sent over a tweet to the U.S. Fed Cup team today.

Serena sent the following message from her Twitter on an iPhone app: “Good Luck to CoCo@ BMattek and the @Fed Cup USA team today in San Diego! Go Red, White & Blue!

Serena is a regular Queen of Twitter and loves her electronic toys. You can’t say the same for Venus, who did not Twitter a message to the team and last posted a Tweet yesterday.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, however, said she’s heard from the Williams sisters via email during the last week.


Calling all ghost busters

San Diego isn’t all about beautiful beaches, baseball’s San Diego Padre’s and football’s San Diego Chargers. Nor is it all about SeaWorld, the famous San Diego zoo or this weekend’s Fed Cup final.

No, San Diego is also the home to what the Travel Channel’s “Americas Most Haunted” calls the No.  1 haunted house in America.

The Whaley House, which opened as a museum in Old Town San Diego in 1960, is considered to be haunted by Whaley family members as well as others, including the family’s pet dog.

The property served as many things besides the Whaley family home during its history – it was a granary, a County Court House, a theater, a ballroom and a billiard hall to name a few of its past purposes.

In California, the Whaley House is simply known as California State Historic Landmark No. 65, but to others that believe it’s a place to see a few paranormal apparitions.

American TV personality Regis Philbin is among those who believe they’ve seen something funny at the Whaley House.

Philbin’s said: "You know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't see it. But there was something going on in that house."


No splash with Shamu

For those who were hoping to attend the big splash event when Craig Gabriel, a voice and writer for FedCup.com, would take a swim with Shamu the whale at SeaWorld, cancel the trip.

Gabriel, as you remember from yesterday’s blog, had suggested he’d take the plunge with Shamu if CoCo Vandeweghe beat Francesca Schiavone in today’s match.

As Gabriel predicted nerves got the better of Vandeweghe in her first Fed Cup outing, and she settled into the match a bit too late to orchestrate a whale of a splash from Gabriel.

The blog can report that Gabriel seemed disappointed not to be able to show off his swimming talents. Hey, he could’ve become a part of the SeaWorld family.

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    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.


    Fed Cup Radio is broadcasting live from the Final in San Diego.

    Chris Bowers, Craig Gabriel and Elise Burgin are on hand to bring you the action with ball-by-ball commentary.

    > Click here to listen

    Email your questions and comments to the Fed Cup Radio team at: radio@fedcup.com


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