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(Reuters) - Former world number seven Kathy Rinaldi has been appointed U.S. Fed Cup captain in place of Mary Joe Fernandez, who relinquished the role in October, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Thursday.
Rinaldi, 49, takes over an expanded position which will also involve working with Team USA players throughout the WTA Tour season and a much closer liaison with the USTA's player development.
"Kathy brings a rare combination of skills to the Fed Cup captaincy," USTA president Katrina Adams said in a statement. "She was a top-10 player when competing on the WTA Tour and now is a top-flight coach with impeccable credentials.
"Kathy already commands the respect and confidence of the U.S. players. This coupled with her leadership experience, and winning mentality makes her the ideal individual to ensure that the team is best composed, and best prepared, to compete with whatever opponent is across the net."
Rinaldi won three WTA singles titles and two doubles crowns during a playing career that ended in September 1997. In 1981, she became at 14 years, 91 days the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon, a record that stood until 1990.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," Rinaldi said. "I believe that my experiences as both a player and a coach have given me insight that will help me to succeed in this role."
Fernandez resigned after eight years as U.S. Fed Cup captain, saying that the expanded role did not fit in with her other work and family commitments.
The United States, winners of a record 17 Fed Cup titles, last won the women's team competition in 2000 and were runners-up in 2010.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Larry Fine