Chiasso, Switzerland, 19 April 2013 | Tennis Australia

With the Fed Cup World Group Play-off tie against Switzerland looming close, the well-oiled team of Sam Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova, Casey Dellacaqua and Ashleigh Barty, led by captain Alicia Molik and coach Nicole Bradtke, has settled into a comfortable routine of practice, gym sessions, treatments and team dinners. Eighteen-year-old Storm Sanders is relishing her role as “orange girl” and is up for as much time on court as possible.

Chiasso is situated in southern Switzerland on the Italian border. The team is actually staying at Chiasso’s twin city of Cernobbio in Italy, only a few kilometres, but a national border, away from the venue. Passports need to be carried to and from the courts each day although so far Chiasso’s highly efficient Fed Cup transport team has been routinely waved through.

> check out images of the Aussies’ latest practice session and from the team dinner

The views over Lake Como are spectacular and the girls are enjoying walking and running in beautiful surrounds, including exploring the well-equipped gym – not always on offer at hotels in Europe – and pool with the added bonus of indoor clay courts for additional practice sessions.

At the official dinner on Thursday, Molik charmed the Swiss hosts with a thank-you message in Italian (the most commonly spoken language in this region of Switzerland) for making the team feel so welcome. As is Fed Cup tradition, rookie squad member Sanders spoke, revealing that being part of Fed Cup had been one of the best weeks of her life. The Swiss team, led by Romina Oprandi, opted to perform a pop song!

After a very long winter, Chiasso has enjoyed a burst of summer this week, with temperatures in the mid-20s. This is all set to change for the weekend though, with rain expected from Friday through to Sunday. Local officials are anxiously checking the forecast as they are staging an ITF event at the venue next week.

You can follow all the Fed Cup lead-up on Twitter at @TennisAustralia.

Australian Fed Cup team

Sanders Dellacqua Barty