Traveling to Minsk with the U.S. Fed Cup team comes with a lot more baggage than one free checked piece of luggage and a carry-on. Dr. Alexis Colvin, who serves as the USTA Chief Medical Officer and is an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital, is ready for anything this weekend thanks to plenty of preparation.
"There's a lot of advance planning especially when you go somewhere outside of the U.S," Dr. Colvin told Baseline. "It's coming up with your emergency plan and where you would get different tests. The other thing that we plan for is supplies that we have to bring. You have to anticipate almost every single possibility that could happen from strains to the flu or an upset stomach—any and all possible things."
The team for the upcoming final is comprised of CoCo Vandeweghe, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske and Shelby Rogers. The support staff includes an orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Colvin), a physical therapist, a massage therapist and a stringer.
"Anytime the players are on the court we're there courtside, so if they need anything, we're right there," Dr. Colvin, who also works at the US Open each year, said. "At the Fed Cup, it's four players and basically a one-to-one ratio of support staff to player. Anything they could possibly need we would be able to provide it."
With the final coming at the very tail end of the season, the players are expectedly exhausted and banged up. But they can rest assured that the finest and most familiar care will be available, even when they're all the way in Minsk.
"We have an amazing support staff," Stephens said. "Whenever one of us has a problem we are very well taken care of. It doesn't matter if we're at home or away. I think that on the USTA's part they really do their best to get us the best physios, doctors and trainers. On that front we're all set, but it doesn't make a difference if we're near or far."
The U.S. is trying to become the first American team to win the Fed Cup since 2000. They are going in as the favorite against a young Belarusian team, but nothing is guaranteed, especially for an away tie.
For anyone that is part of Team USA, including Dr. Colvin, it has been a team effort to get here, and will continue to be so until the very end.
"What's fun about the Fed Cup, as the players will say too, is that tennis is normally an individual sport and this is when it becomes a team sport. Everyone is cheering for everyone and you're there cheering for your country," Dr. Colvin said. "I can't explain the feeling when they start the tie and play the anthem—it's just a really special thing to be a part of."
The Fed Cup final will be covered live by Tennis Channel starting at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. on Sunday.