KAILUA-KONA » Venus Williams beat Paula Kania 7-5, 6-2, and Sloane Stephens beat Magda Linette, 6-2 6-4 today to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead over Poland after the opening day of their Fed Cup first round.
The Americans are one match away from advancing to the World Group II semifinals in April.
Williams overcame a shaky start against Kania, who served for the first set but could not capitalize at 5-4.
“It’s never easy to play Fed Cup because you’re playing for more than yourself. I just get pumped,” said Williams, a former world’s No. 1 player. “The whole crowd is here for you and there’s no other feeling like it in tennis.”
It was a packed house of about 2,000 at Holua Tennis Center in Kailua-Kona.
“I’ve got the support I need to get out here and be comfortable to move around,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s the first time Hawaii has hosted Fed Cup, but it shouldn’t be the last.”
Stephens had to battle back from 4-0 down in the second set against Poland’s No. 1 player. Stephens won five straight games to take charge of the first match of the day.
Stephens and Linette had met once on the WTA Tour last year in Washington, D.C., where Stephens went on to win her first career WTA title.
“I was able to play some solid tennis towards the end,” Stephens said. “All I can really take from that is that I tried my butt off and never gave up. That’s all that really counts.”
Play continues Sunday with Williams against Linette and Stephens against Kania and the doubles match featuring Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe taking on Aljicja Rosolska and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik.
U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez said she was pleased with the first day’s results.
“Each match is important. It’s so much better going into the second day with a lead, so it’s great to get both wins today,” she said.