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Beyond the Baseline

U.S. Fed Cup team to host France with World Group spot at stake

Alison Riske Alison Riske and the U.S. fell to Italy in the World Group first round. (Tony Dejak/AP)

The Americans will try to regain their place in the Fed Cup World Group when they play France at home in April, the ITF announced on Tuesday.

The United States lost to Italy 3-1 in the first round of World Group play last weekend in Cleveland, where captain Mary Joe Fernandez fielded a young team of Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Christina McHale and Lauren Davis. Meanwhile, France, which featured Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic, defeated Switzerland 3-2 in World Group II to earn a shot at promotion to the top-flight World Group next year. The host city has yet to be determined.

In other notable ties finalized Tuesday, Eugenie Bouchard-led Canada will host the Slovak Republic, which should include Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova. Canada is looking to earn promotion to the World Group for the first time since 1994. No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, the highest-ranked player consistently committed to the competition, will head to Spain for a tie that will likely be held on clay, her worst surface. Poland hasn't made the eight-team World Group since 1994.

The promotion/relegation format pits the World Group countries that lost their first-round tie against the World Group II countries that won their first-round tie. The winner goes into the World Group next season -- joining 2014 semifinalists Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy -- and the loser is relegated to the second-tier group and must play its way back into the first tier alongside winners from the World Group II playoffs. The Americans were relegated to World Group II in 2012 but returned to the World Group with wins over Belarus and Ukraine.

The playoffs take place on April 19-20. Here is the full draw:

World Group playoffs

Argentina at Russia

Slovak Republic at Canada

France at United States

Poland at Spain

World Group II playoffs

Serbia at Romania

Japan at Netherlands

Thailand at Sweden

Switzerland at Brazil
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