WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) Sloane Stephens will lead the U.S. Fed Cup team that is without the Williams sisters for the World Group first-round match against Italy on Feb. 9-10.
U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez also included doubles specialist Liezel Huber and rookies Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton.
Stephens is ranked a career-high No. 17 after beating Serena Williams to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. She is in line to make her Fed Cup singles debut against the Italians.
Serena Williams, who hurt her back in the quarterfinal loss to Stephens, played in the most recent U.S. match in the Fed Cup - a 5-0 victory over Ukraine in a World Group playoff in April last year.
The match will be played on indoor red clay in Rimini, Italy. The Italian team is led by No. 7 Sara Errani and No. 16 Roberta Vinci.
Mo Wagner became the NBA's leader in charges drawn Friday night, and his activity during the first half helped him get under Karl-Anthony Towns' skin.
After Wagner attempted to draw yet another charge on Towns, the Minnesota big man finished a layup on the drive and laid the ball in Wagner's lap when the foul went uncalled.
Towns received the technical foul as the Wizards continued to play a strong first half against one of the better offenses in the league on the road.
Towns has been on a mean streak this season. He got in an epic brawl with Joel Embiid earlier this season and got into it with Rudy Gay just a few nights ago. He's demonstrated that he's a player you can get to, and Wagner did just that early on.
The Wizards' defense has seemingly responded to Wagner's activity, so we'll see if they can keep it up to supplement one of the league's best offensive units.
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One of the Wizards' few defensive bright spots to start this season has been Mo Wagner's knack for drawing charges.
He's not the most gifted defender, but his activity and willingness to put his body on the line for an extra possession have made him an important player in the Wizards' rotation.
On Friday night against the Timberwolves Wagner drew three charges in the first half, increasing his season total to 11, which now makes him the league's leader in that category.
Before Friday's game, Scott Brooks pointed to Wagner's knack for drawing charges as a way his Wizards teammates can improve on the defensive end.
The Wizards' offense has been so good that they could really start to make some noise if their defense improves. Perhaps it could begin with Wagner.
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