EVERETT — The next big thing in women’s tennis joined a living legend on the roster of the U.S. team that will compete in a Fed Cup Qualifier next week at Angel of the Winds Arena.
The International Tennis Federation announced the rosters for both the U.S. and Latvian teams Tuesday, with exciting 15-year-old Coco Gauff joining all-time great Serena Williams among the five players on the U.S. squad that faces Latvia on Feb. 7-8. Williams previously had been announced as a member of the team.
The other players of the U.S. team are Australian Open semifinalist Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The team is captained by Kathy Rinaldi.
The players selected for Latvia are Anastasija Sevastova, Jelena Ostapenko, Diana Marcinkevica and Daniela Vismane. The team is captained by Adrians Zguns.
Gauff captured the imagination of the nation when the teen sensation reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year as the youngest player ever to qualify for the tournament’s main draw. She followed that up with a run to the third round of the U.S. Open, and she advanced to the fourth round of the still-being-contested Australian Open before losing to Kenin. She’s currently ranked No. 67 in the world.
Gauff is set to become the second youngest American to play in the competition behind Jennifer Capriati, who made her debut at 14 in 1990.
Gauff joins Williams, who is largely considered the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. The 38-year-old has won 23 major singles titles, the most by any player in the open era, and spent 319 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world by the WTA between 2002 and 2017. She is currently ranked No. 9, and was upset in the third round of the Australian Open last Thursday by Wang Qiang.
Williams has a 13-0 career record in Fed Cup singles.
Kenin is ranked No. 15 in the world, and the 21-year-old is in her first ever semifinal at a major as she faces Ashleigh Barty on Wednesday for a spot in the Australian Open final. Riske, 29, is ranked No. 19 in the world, having just reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. Mattek-Sands, 34, is ranked No. 23 in doubles, having reached the third round of the Australian Open alongside Kenin.
The highest-ranked U.S. player who wasn’t included on the team was No. 11 Madison Keyes.
The Latvian team undoubtedly will lean heavily on Sevastova, ranked No. 33 in the world, and Ostapenko, ranked No. 45. Ostapenko lost in the second round of the Australian Open and Sevastova was upset in the first round. Marcinkevica is ranked No. 263 and Vismane No. 492.
The competition — or “tie” — between the U.S. and Latvia is comprised of a best-of-five. Two singles matches take place the first day, then the players switch and play reverse singles the second day. The tie is concluded with a doubles match.
The winner of the qualifier advances to the Fed Cup Finals, which take place April 14-19 in Budapest, Hungary.
Items from The Associated Press were included in this report.