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USTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 5, 2006
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Okay, folks. First of all, I wanted to thank everybody for coming out earlier than normal on a second Wednesday. We do appreciate it very much, working with your schedules and our schedules.
We're here today to make a very strong, interesting announcement in regards to player development, and we have with us here today the USTA Chairman of the Board and President, Franklin Johnson.
Of course, tennis legend and the Chairman of our USTA High Performance Committee, Billie Jean King.
Next to Franklin on his right is the Chief Executive of Professional Tennis, Arlen Kantarian.
Flanking Billie Jean is John Evert, who is the Executive Director of the Evert Tennis Academy.
We have the USTA Managing Director of Player Development Paul Roetert.
We are also being joined by ESPN commentator and US Davis Cup Captain, Patrick McEnroe.
We're very pleased to be bringing in from the lovely State of Colorado a great champion and co-owner of the Evert Tennis Academy, Chris Evert. Chris, can you hear us okay?
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Good morning, Chris. How early is it?
CHRIS EVERT: Four o'clock in the morning.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Yeah, baby.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: We're going to just hear a few words from some preliminary speakers, and then open it up to a Q and A.
Without further ado, I'm going to ask Franklin Johnson to make the formal announcement.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: The USTA realizes our responsibility as the national governing body of tennis to do what we can to develop future champions. We established a High Performance Committee chaired by Billie Jean and a lot of other experts. We have in Paul Roetert and Eliot Teltscher some very knowledgeable folks. We've examined what it is that we need to do to strengthen our program, and we realize that we had not had in the past a residential, year-round program to train our top people.
What we've had in the past, we've had a lot of years where we've had the top 14-and-unders in the world, a lot of these kids living in cold-weather climates where they can't get good competition year round, and just didn't develop.
We decided that we wanted to arrange for a year-round facility with top training facilities, top tennis facilities. We did a study of where we might locate. After that study came the conclusion that striking an alliance with the Evert Academy would be the best place to relocate our High Performance activity. We have just concluded that arrangement, and so today we're announcing this new alliance with the Evert Academy.
I think there are many advantages of the Evert Academy, but one that is so wonderful is the relationship with a true tennis legend, Chris Evert. People talk recently about Nadal's great clay court record of 60 and forget about Chris's 125 undefeated clay court victories. So without further ado, Chris, is there anything you'd like to say in terms of this announcement?
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah, I am very excited. My brother John and I are very excited about the merger with the USTA and our new partnership. I just want to say I think it's great to see the USTA making a big move like this to develop junior tennis and future champions.
I'd like to talk a little bit about the USTA coaches because I personally have worked closely with them and been on tour with some of them. Jay Deluhy (phonetic spelling), Lori McNeil, Jay Berger, Ricardo, Richard Ashby. I think having those personal relationships and seeing the way that they've worked, I have to say that they are very, very knowledgeable and first class as coaches.
I've even had many talks with Billie Jean about the USTA and about ideas as far as how to help the junior tennis. She's promised me and made a commitment to come down and, right, Billie Jean, you're there, right?
BILLIE JEAN KING: I'm there, I'm there. I love coaching.
CHRIS EVERT: Okay. And work with some kids, get back a little bit into the coaching. I think where Billie Jean and I can really help is to personally ask the Jimmy Connors, the Pete Samprases, the John McEnroes, America's past champions to come down to Boca and to give the junior players some inspiration and coaching and to give back because the USTA has certainly given us a lot in our tennis career.
And, lastly, you know, it's a dream for me. This academy, I have to travel seven minutes from my house to work, and I'm there for the USTA to assist or work with however they want me to work with, to watch the kids, to give advice in any capacity they want me to, and my brother John also.
So, you know, it just would be great to give back to junior tennis, to give them, you know -- try to talk to them, inspire them, give them back the hunger I think that has been lacking for a while in the USA.
I'm just thrilled. I've definitely given my commitment to the USTA. I'd just like to thank you on behalf of John and I for choosing our facility.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thank you, Chrissie. We greatly appreciate that.
At this point I'm going to ask Paul Roetert, our Managing Director of Player Development to put in perspective this new development and where this year-round housing and new facility will fit in the overall player development philosophy. Paul?
PAUL ROETERT: Yeah, I'll try to put it in perspective a little bit.
We have three units within Player Development. The first one is coaching education, which encompasses sports science as well. Over the last few years we've done quite a nice job with providing the latest coaching education and training information to coaches around the country, specifically to coaches that deal with high performance players.
The second unit that is under Player Development deals with the junior competitive structure in the United States. We've had some changes in the last few years, and we're starting to see some of the results of that especially at the junior level, and the 13-, 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds in particular. We've changed the ranking system. We have gone to a points per round ranking system that simplifies the rankings so they're easier to understand, and it also helps players to compete against each other more often.
As Chris mentioned on the phone, creating the hunger is really important to us. We want players to play against each other and to train together as much as possible. So the points per round ranking system has been very helpful in that regard.
The second part of that is we've brought more ITF junior tournaments to the United States, and I think that's been a real critical move forward. Instead of having our kids travel all over the world chasing points for ITF junior rankings, we can now keep the kids in the United States, have them compete against each other, and not have to travel so far. So we now have 17 ITF junior tournaments in the United States. We are also next year taking over that whole circuit, and it will be a real positive for us where we can control the calendar, where those tournaments are on the calendar, also where geographically those tournaments are.
We've worked very closely with Arlen Kantarian and his Pro Circuit Group. We now have 96 professional circuit events in this country. We work very closely with Arlen's staff on where those tournaments are again on the calendar, what level they are, and also where they are geographically. We need to upgrade a lot of those, and we have upgraded a lot of those.
Those are sort of the highlights as far as the junior competitive area and getting players to play more often against each other.
The third area - and that's why we are here now - is the training area. In the past, we've done some training camps for our top players, we've helped supplement by funding and/or by wildcards, some of the players around the country training individually with coaches or with academies. We now want to take the next step and supplement that by adding a full-time training academy. We really want to improve our training environment in the United States. By partnering with John and Chris Evert, we feel that we have an ideal environment to create that training environment for players to come there and live and train on a full-time basis.
Chris and John are actually putting up a building for us, an 18,000 square foot building, which will encompass office space for all of our staff. It will encompass dormitory-style living for young players. We're looking at approximately 20 young players that will be living there. We will have a full training facility with weight room, video analysis equipment, and all the things that go along with the psychological, physiological and biomechanical training as well.
There are 23 courts on site which we'll be making use of. Fourteen of those courts are clay courts; nine are hard courts. In addition to that, there are courts in the neighboring area which we can make use of. We'll share those facilities with the Evert Academy. We're very excited about sharing those facilities, and also have the interaction with players that are already there and the players that we might be bringing in.
So, for us, this is an ideal situation. We've had to upgrade our training capabilities. We will continue to work with private coaches. We will continue to work with our coaches at academies. But this will be for those kids that really don't have currently access to those training facilities that have absolutely great talent that we want to work with.
We will set up criteria for kids to come and train there. The criteria will include quality of their ranking, their talent, their work ethic, their attitude. All those things will be taken into account when we select these kids to come and train there.
In addition to that, we'll have kids coming in and out on a regular basis that may not live there but also come in for extended periods, long weekends, weeks at a time, and train there as well.
I should probably leave it at this.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Schools?
PAUL ROETERT: There are a number of different ways in which kids can go to school there. There is an online school on site which is what I would consider almost a hybrid school. There's a classroom there, but it's an online school. There are private schools nearby, there are public schools nearby, and all those opportunities are available there.
My final comment is we want to upgrade the quality of our training and our playing in this country, and we want our players to train together more often. We want them to play against each other more often; we think that will create a competitive environment, and the hunger that Chris was talking about on the phone as well. We really feel this is critical.
We are doing all kinds of possible things to upgrade. Our wildcards even and our grants, the way we give those out. So you know, as far as the wildcards are concerned, we have playoffs for wildcards now. We don't just give out wildcards anymore on the pro tour. We actually play off for them. That's been a real positive for us.
You may or may not know. We just this week finished -- Arlen and I just finished a trade with the Australian Open for men's and women's wildcard in the main draw. So we will give a 2006 US Open wildcard on the men's and women's side, and trade that for the Australian Open 2007.
All those type of playoffs we will conduct at our training centers and make it the most exciting training facility we can possibly make it.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thanks, Paul. Before we open it up to Q and A, I'm going to ask Billie Jean King to share her thoughts, and then we'll transition into a Q and A.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Thank you, Chris. This is truly exciting for me personally because of course I've known Chris since she was a child, and we've been good friends.
In talking to John and Chris through the years, particularly since she started her academy, we've talked about how we would like to see the kids create a new culture that's truly competitive and makes them hungry, as Chris mentioned earlier.
I've talked to Patrick ad nauseam, as well, our Davis Cup captain; and to Zina Garrison, our Fed Cup captain; to Rodney Harmon, who's the head of men's professional tennis; Jean Nachand, who's the head of the women's; Eliot Teltscher. We've been having so many discussions about this. It's so great that we can have such a great champion like Chris Evert.
I mean, she and I, when we talk, she's just so anxious to really make a difference - and John is, too - to really help create some champions, not just on the tennis court but off the court as well. I mean, the one thing I love about Chris's academy is she really takes the whole person into being, and I think that's important. So when they do well in the professional tennis, that they'll be able to handle what goes with it, which is huge now: the media, the endorsements, the pressures, all the things that go in there. You've got to be mature enough that you don't just have one good year, that you could actually sustain.
So I think it's great. We know we're not doing well. I think Patrick and John and Chris and all of us former champions, and Jimmy Connors, I've talked to him, we've had it. We want to win. I think you're gonna see a group of us that are going to take the bull by the horns and really help.
The High Performance Committee has been very diligent in trying to give suggestions to Paul and his staff, but I think we have to put our faith in the hands of the staff. They're doing a great job. I think whatever our vision is for the next six to ten years, it takes ten years to make a champion, we have to keep the system in place. We've had many changes in the past. I hope this is the start of not having too many changes except for just adding on positive things like the academy.
I know Franklin and I have talked as well at great length, and Franklin is the one that created the High Performance Committee. We're just trying to figure this out. It's not easy in the landscape of the United States. We have a huge area, first of all, compared to other countries. We also have young people in our country who most families want them to go to school, whereas in other countries they don't care.
So we have to create a very hungry culture, and I hope today is the beginning of that. It sends the message that we know we're not doing that great, we're not cutting it, and under Franklin's leadership, I think this is a great start.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thank you, Billie Jean. At this point, we would like to open it up to questions. Feel free to fire away.
I might serve a little bit to direct questions if it's ambiguous who should answer it.
Q. I would start by asking Paul and Patrick, the game has become so global that is it possible that other than the fact that we're trying to maximize the conditions under which we train these kids, that there's really nothing wrong with -- we're just involved in a highly competitive world right now with tennis players? Even smaller places like Croatia are turning out tremendous numbers of outstanding juniors. France, every year they seem to have a new junior. Is it possible that no matter what you do here, no matter how hard, how many good coaches you put in place or how many training centers you designate, how much money you throw at it, we're just involved in a competitive situation, and there's no guarantee that the players we produce here in this country, just because we've got 250 million people in the United States, are going to overcome other places in the world?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I mean, obviously, it's much more competitive now than it was, but that's no excuse. I mean, to say that, you know, we should be happy where we are, I don't think any of us feel that. I think we feel that we should be doing better. I'm just happy to see that the USTA is stepping up and being more accountable.
I think that's what they've wanted to do. They've wanted to do that for Paul and his team and his coaches, is for them to really feel like they can make a difference. I think with the housing situation, that's the first time this has happened. We've got to do what we can. We've got to do everything. We can't sit there and say, Hey, someone makes better widgets now, so we should forget how good we can make our widgets. We've got to try to improve and we've got to try to get better and face the realities of what you said, which are true, but also face the fact that we have these incredible resources in Billie Jean and Chris and the various people that have done it, and we should use them, and we should create a better environment.
There's obviously no guarantees, but I think there's also the fact that if we don't do something, it's not just going to get better necessarily. We can't just hope that Venus and Serena Williams come out of the parks again in southern California.
Q. Billie Jean hit on a key word here, which is "hunger." Lisa Raymond was in last week after losing to Venus and said a really interesting remark. She said American kids are trying to win for plasma television sets, and the kids from eastern Europe are trying to win so they don't have to go back home. Are we just facing that problem that can't be overcome, the hunger problem that is just so much more demanding for kids from countries where there isn't very much?
BILLIE JEAN KING: Don't you think we have a lot of first-generation immigrants in our country right now that have come from those elements? I mean, if you look at Agassi, you look at Chang, you look at a lot of the great past champions, a lot of them are first-generation Americans. There's no reason we can't get a lot of first-generation Americans involved, as well as other kids. People that grow up in a family atmosphere like Chris or me where they're very strict and they have tough values and they don't just give you material things every second that you want them.
I mean, I think there are many families in America still like that, that have the work ethic. I think it's our job to find them, find the young people who are highly motivated. Highly motivated is huge. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you are not motivated, it won't matter. I mean, Becker is a perfect example in Germany who failed every single test when they tested him except the motivational part. He was off the charts. They said, Let's keep him, we'll let him play with the girls. So he practiced with Graf, and those two did pretty nice (laughter).
So motivation is really important. I think sometimes we forget about that aspect. We look just for talent. But talent is inwardly. It's integration of both the mind, body and soul. So it's really important, I think.
Chris, pipe in here any time.
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah, you know, I think was that Charlie that just spoke?
Q. Yes, it was, Chris.
CHRIS EVERT: I think a lot of what you're saying is correct as far as global. These players want to get out of their country and they want to come to the land of freedom, they want to come to America. I know that's what we've been saying all along about the Russian women players. When they see an Anna Kournikova over here just basking in all this glory, getting all these endorsements, living the great life, yes, I mean, that is inspiration when what you have isn't as good as what we have over here in America.
But at the same time, I think the inspiration, like Billie Jean was talking about, is very important. I basically grew up with inspiration from my dad. If one person can make a difference, if a Billie Jean can come down or a Jimmy Connors, how great would he be to motivate these players? Or Pete Sampras? I think that that could be one element that could help these younger players also.
As far as, you know, an academy environment, people come up to me and they go, Well, you grew up in public courts, what are you doing running an academy? Well, at Holiday Park, I was there all day. It was sort of like an academy. We hung out all day, we went to school, we had friendships. We still had a very normal life, and that's pretty much what these kids will be having here now with this new facility.
So, I mean, what you're saying is very true. And, Billie Jean, I think you will agree in our day it was Australia and America competing. Nowadays, they're coming out of the woodwork, these players. Yes, we have a lot more competition, but at the same time, like Patrick said, we can give them everything available that we can give them, and then we can't look back and get down on ourselves that we didn't do enough for these players.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: I think we ought to let more people ask, if we can.
Q. President Johnson, I am just curious because this has been discussed for years, this residential program. I remember talking to Annacone about it, and Patrick and I have talked about it five, six, seven years ago. It's been on the table a long time. Why did it take so long? Why are you so convinced this is the right way of going about doing it?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: Well, I think residential programs have proven themselves in other countries. The case for doing it is very strong. Why we didn't do it earlier, it certainly came up before. I think there was a reluctance on the USTA Board's part to get into the academy business, the notion we'd be competing with other existing academies, the taking responsible for education, food service, dormitory living, was something that the Board didn't seem to want to do, and there wasn't, unfortunately, the idea of a partnership that we've come up with this time.
So it did come up, and it got rejected, essentially, in the past under others that were running the USTA at that point in time. I think we're convinced that this is the direction we need to go, and our Board was very receptive to the arguments that were advanced by Paul and Eliot Teltscher and Billie Jean and Patrick in support.
So we got it through this time. It's obviously something that has budgetary significance, you know, so sometimes it's not easy to get approval for things. But I think this particular Board of the USTA was enthusiastically behind this.
BILLIE JEAN KING: They're very proactive, this Board, which is great. I think we need to stay proactive.
Q. The fact that the results have been suffering, is that the main thing over the hurdle?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: We started talking about this a little more than a year ago. Last year, obviously, we had both women's finalists and a men's finalist. So the start of this was really prior to any problem in U.S. tennis. We just felt this was the way to go, this was the best thing we ought to do. It took us a while to get there in terms of getting the Board there, then doing some due diligence and visiting various places, trying to make a legal arrangement that made sense.
So it took a good while to do, but we really started deliberating on this almost a year ago, a little more than a year ago.
PAUL ROETERT: We look at players, for example, how many juniors do we have ranked in the top thousand of the ATP? How many juniors do we have ranked in the top 750 of the WTA, which is a similar ranking? How many 18- to 23-year-olds do we have ranked in the top 500 ATP? How many 18- to 21-year-old females do we have ranked in the top 300 WTA?
Those are the kind of rankings we look at and see the next group of young players that are coming up. We've actually seen those numbers increase from 2002, three, four and five each year. Both on the boys' side, or men's side, and on the women's side, those numbers have increased.
We wanted to help those players get to the next level. It's not that we were doing worse on that end, we actually thought we needed to do more because we're seeing some young kids coming through that are actually improving.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Aren't we even looking at 8-year-olds? Didn't we have a camp for the 10-and-under? That's where we have to go: Eight, nine, ten.
PAUL ROETERT: That's a different group of kids, yeah.
BILLIE JEAN KING: We're still looking at them.
Q. Paul and John, did you think instead of 20, it's 14s and 16s on up, how about two hundred 8-year-olds? Not residential.
PAUL ROETERT: We've actually started working with younger kids, as of about two years ago. I would say before that, Player Development was focused on the 14-and-under kids all the way up, to maybe 20-year-olds. Now we've started looking and we've started working with some kids that are 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds. It's amazing some of the progress that they've made. You've seen some of those kids, both on the east coast and on the west coast. In Carson, California, as well, we started our training center, which was also part of our vision, is to improve the training on the west coast. In Carson, we've really made some strides with some of our coaches working with those young kids. Debbie Graham and Ray Ruffels in particular on the west coast have really worked closely with the very young kids, who have tremendous experience in the area of coaching. On the east coast we've had some of our coaches really focus on the very young kids, as well. We're starting to see some results there.
Q. Is this a reaction to the burnout of 10, 12 years ago when suddenly they cut back on all the age divisions and kids weren't supposed to be competing?
BILLIE JEAN KING: We've talked quite a bit about that. I think Paul can address that better than I can, but, yes, we've addressed it a lot. Remember, we started saying, Oh, they shouldn't compete, it should be fun until they're 12. We don't believe that anymore (laughing).
CHRIS WIDMAIER: No more fun!
PAUL ROETERT: They need to train together as much as possible and they need to play against each other as much as possible. This is tennis. You need to compete against each other. That's how you get better.
BILLIE JEAN KING: If you're going to be any good, you're going to thrive on it. I look back, when I was a young person, and I'm sure Patrick and all of us, John, I actually took John to a tournament when he was 12, at 8 o'clock in the morning. It was freezing in California, but steel nets.
But those are the things you've got to do. Like we're talking about the very elite, high-performance young person, and there are very few that want it and also have the God-given talent to do it.
I used to play five events every weekend. I loved playing and I wanted to win. I think those are the kids you look for, the ones who are crazy enough that want to go through that. They think it's fun. I thought it was fun. I thought traveling was fun. I thought gutsing it out was fun. I hear the players saying, Oh, I'm so homesick, I want to go home all the time. I'm going, Ut-oh. If you want to be a professional tennis player, you can't stay at home.
PAUL ROETERT: To get back to Peter's point about burnout, burnout occurs when you mindlessly hit balls for six hours a day without competing. The fun part of tennis is competing. So we want to create that environment of fun training, being with your friends, and then also competing against each other.
Q. Can I ask about a slightly different demographic. I mean, you've sort of touched on it. It seems to me that American kids these days make their choices about what sport they're going to devote themselves to at eight or ten. Obviously, this has been very well thought out for the high performance kids, the kids that are quite far along. Has there been also discussion about just how to get tennis in the forefront of the minds of kids and their parents when they're being, you know, channeled one direction or another to really go after the best athletes who might choose soccer instead, or basketball or softball?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: We've devoted a lot of attention to this in terms of our community tennis activities and how do we get more kids playing tennis. We felt that what was going on in the public parks where 70% of the people play tennis was weaker than it needed to be, and we've tried to revitalize tennis in the public parks, and particularly with a lot of programs for young people.
We find also that kids like to be on teams, and so team tennis, of getting kids started on teams has been important.
PAUL ROETERT: Billie Jean doesn't believe that (laughter). She believes in solo.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Forty-five years, we have to sell our sport to the young children as a team sport so they can play with their friends instead of against their friends, because I grew up in team sports. The sports that do the best in the United States are team sports.
Q. For girls especially, yeah.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Title IX, I think it's actually hurt us, tennis, because girls are now playing soccer and basketball. 35% of the varsity players in high school are tennis players -- I mean, basketball players.
It's pretty obvious. Like you said, they start early. They've chosen their sport when they're seven and eight. We got to get them to choose our sport very early, love it, have a critical mass of kids playing.
We will get the one up here. But we should -- I mean, that's a whole other discussion.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: The more that are playing, the better chance of somebody emerging. I suppose you may be aware that last year, or in 2005 versus 2004, we had like 1.1 million more people that play tennis in that year than the year before. Racquet sales are up, ball sales are up.
We are getting a resurgence of an interest in tennis and we are trying to make sure that in the grass roots at the public parks where a lot of these kids can be introduced to tennis, that we have more tennis programs going, more kids introduced to tennis. We are doing it as a team event.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Yeah, but it gets down to the person, too, who's there at the park or at a facility. I think Chris can attest to this. Like at Holiday Park, I used to go to Holiday Park and watch her, hit against her there, or watch Claire, what a riot.
Anyway, it's the same with me. That was my social place, my hub to go to and see friends and play. I think the socialization is very important as well with these people.
CHRIS EVERT: Billie, I want to butt in and say you're talking about individual sports like tennis and golf versus the team sports. Not every child is cut out, temperament-wise, mentally-wise, emotionally-wise, to compete in an individual sport. I see that because I have three boys. I see that a lot of kids, they want to just run in with their friends, run into the soccer field, and maybe not a lot of kids learn at a young age how to deal with the pressure, you know. They don't understand it. Maybe they're turned off by it a little bit when you're out there on your own on a tennis court. That's why it's our job to make it fun, and it's our job to keep talking to them about it and to play doubles and, you know, mix it up.
That's what we do at our academy. We play singles matches, we drill, but we also play a lot of doubles because that's, you know, one thing that they can kind of let their guard down, relax a little bit, and have a little bit of teamwork.
But tennis is tough because there's a lot of pressure. You're the only one on that side of the court. It would be a lot easier for a 10-year-old to go out and run out with his friend on a team and not feel that responsibility at a young age.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, the great thing about tennis is it's a team sport and an individual sport. We have both going for us, and we have both genders with high profile. This is the greatest sport because of that.
CHRIS EVERT: But I think that's where the burnout comes, is at a young age when it's too intense. The USTA, I think that's what everybody has, you know, really studied that and looked at it and we're trying to, you know, have a remedy.
Q. What do you think this emphasis on clay court play will do, and how long will it take to overcome the obstacles to performance on clay courts that we've seen for a number of years?
CHRIS EVERT: Well, I think the players in California, you know, Billie Jean and Pete, I think they were brought up on hard courts. They primarily were hard court players and maybe excelled at the US Open and hard court tournaments and maybe had trouble at the French Open.
Consequently, in Florida, you know, we have a lot of clay court players, and the reverse happened. It was tougher for me, personally, to win on a grass court and a faster court because I was brought up on the clay.
I mean, just the beauty of this is that you have both surfaces. So, again, I'm a true believer that too much hard court tennis is not good for the body. I think we've seen that, those examples from previous players. I'm even an advocate of if you have a hard court tournament, yeah, you want to practice on hard court but slip in a day or two on clay just to get the footwork, to get the footwork working.
So I think just to have access to both types of surfaces is an advantage.
PAUL ROETERT: In our west coast training center, we also have clay courts. Actually, they're quite in good shape and our players use them pretty extensively. Almost every training camp for our young players is now on clay courts. We really wanted to teach, as Chris said, it's a great environment to be able to play on clay, but to be able to teach the technique and tactics together, really, it's a big benefit to do that on clay.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Like sliding for California players is impossible.
PAUL ROETERT: That's exactly right. We try to teach the technique and tactics together. To do that on clay has been a big benefit for us, for the younger kids especially.
Q. Are those Har-Tru, and do we need red clay?
PAUL ROETERT: Most of those have been on Har-Tru. Personally, I don't feel that it's going to be that big a deal if it's hard true or red clay. All the clay courts in Europe are different from each other. If you play in Sweden versus France, they're all vastly different from each other, too. I think that the fact that the kids learn how to slide, that's the key component here more so than the difference between red clay and hard true.
CHRIS EVERT: Absolutely. Charlie, if you remember, we had four red clay at our academy, and...
Q. Before the hurricane.
CHRIS EVERT: I remember Venus and Serena practiced on them. The problem was they were unlike any of the red clay in Europe, so...
Q. You spray painted them red?
CHRIS EVERT: Ha-ha. But they were completely different than Europe. So I think it doesn't really matter. It is the sliding and it is the patience. Clay court is a mental game.
Q. Does the east coast of Florida now become the US training center while the west coast becomes the international training center?
PAUL ROETERT: No, no. Both east and west coast training centers will be US training centers; however, at both facilities we will have some international players come in and out. I'll give the example of a training camp we did last year in December at the Evert Academy, which was for professional players. Andy Roddick was there, Robby Ginepri was there, Sébastien Grosjean was there, Baghdatis came by for a day, and we like that environment where we mix in some of the international players, but the focus obviously is to help American players.
BILLIE JEAN KING: They're going to have to play internationally.
Q. How does Nick fit in the picture basically? That's more what I'm thinking about.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, there's Saddlebrook, Nick, they're still going to get grants, Van der Meer. They're going to support all those. If a kid wants to go there, that's great. It's fine.
PAUL ROETERT: This is a supplementary problem.
Q. Obviously, with what's happened here, the state of American tennis is kind of the issue du jour. I'm just curious how acute do you think the problem is? The state right now, as we sit here, the state of American tennis?
BILLIE JEAN KING: We're not cutting it. We know it. Everybody here will tell you that. We know that.
But the one thing I think that's hurt us the most as far as we're talking about here today, is there was always many changes in the system. I have already gone and talked to three or four of the next presidents of the USTA, and I have pleaded and begged with them, whatever we do now, whatever Paul and his team wants, and the Board wants, that we do not keep changing the system, and we cannot do that. We have to leave it in place six to ten years. It takes ten years to make a champion. We cannot keep having these drastic changes.
That's the one thing I did learn about coming on the committee when Franklin asked me. I went back through the history and I could not believe the changes and the difference in the budgets and this and that. I mean, France spends $40 million a year over the last 25 years or however long their system has been in place. We cannot keep changing it so drastically. There is no way that Paul and his team can do their job if we keep doing that. There is no way.
So that's something I'm very clear on now. So I have pleaded with the future leaders of our organization in tennis that, please, do not change it drastically. Just please don't do it.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: I don't think they will. I think the Board is very intent on continuing.
BILLIE JEAN KING: That is the most important thing we could talk about today, is we leave it in place. Have Chris continue to be proactive, to get more and more of the top players really involved. I can tell you the top players, Americans hate to lose. We are all talking about we cannot stand it and we want to help. I mean, Patrick has been great with the Davis Cup team, and Zina wants to help, and John wants to help, and, you know, every player I talk to, Tracy Austin, everybody want us to win.
So I think we have a lot of great former champions that can help make a difference, and I know that when I hung out with Alice Marble for three months of my life, only on weekends, she was a former No. 1 player and it spilled over on to me when I was 15 years old and it changed my life.
I think if you can get champions and also our wonderful national coaches really around and rally around these players, it will make a difference because I think champions beget champions.
Q. Can Chris weigh in on that issue as well?
CHRIS EVERT: Well, yeah. No, as I said earlier, the opening of this press conference, I think it comes down to a really solid facility, but it also comes down to inspiration. I think that Billie Jean is right. She and I have access to talking to the Jimmy Connors and the past champions, the Samprases, the McEnroes and Tracy. I feel like the USTA has done a lot for us as junior players, and I think that these champions will definitely want to give back and come down and do some clinics and talk to the players.
The inspiration and the coaching is so important, and, you know, I agree 100%. We have such wonderful resources that we never use, we really have never used. I think this time around, everybody is in complete agreement that we finally feel like we have the complete package.
PAUL ROETERT: Just to answer that in a slightly different way, we do have some very good players in the pipeline, some young players coming up. You've seen some of them here, maybe in Vania King, who is still very young, who is on the Fed Cup team now, is still an amateur, actually. She had a pretty good run over the last year to move up. Last year at this tournament she got to the second round of Juniors. This year she got to the second round of the main tournament. She's really improved vastly.
If you look at Alexa Glatch, who is the same age, who unfortunately broke her wrist this last year, she's played two tournaments since she's come back, both $10,000 tournaments. She won both of them in the last two weeks. She only played two tournaments in the last two weeks, she won both of them. She's back on her way up.
As I said before, we had some playoffs for different events where different players have done very well, Madison Brengle, a young player. We've got some good 14-, 15-year-olds, Grace Min. I could name you a whole bunch of players in the pipeline who are moving up nicely. Jamie Hampton has done quite well recently. On the boys' side, we were talking this morning about a few of the kids, Rhyne Williams and Chase Buchanan, just turning 15 years old. They both this week qualified for a $10,000 tournament. At that age they're qualifying for a $10,000 tournament. They're pushing each other, which is a great possibility for them to move forward.
You've seen some of the other young players here. I assume on the boy's side as well, you're all familiar with Sam Querrey, who recently turned pro, won his first pro event, a $50,000 event. Donald Young is still in the tournament here in the juniors. We're fairly deep in, especially the 13-, 14- 15-year-olds, we're very deep right now.
Q. You talked before about how those numbers have increased since 2002. Then, I mean, can the argument be made then that really maybe things are not so broken?
PAUL ROETERT: I would make that.
Q. It seems to be at odds with sort of the overall tenor here.
BILLIE JEAN KING: We're just talking about pros. I'm talking about right at the top at the moment. These kids still have to prove themselves, but at least we've got some in the pipeline, which is great.
PATRICK McENROE: We've got them in the pipeline, now we have to get them to the pros.
BILLIE JEAN KING: We have to make sure they get up here.
Also, the women upset Germany in Fed Cup, Shenay Perry, Jamea Jackson, Vania King, Jill Craybas. Nobody thought we had a chance in that, and we upset the Germans. I thought that was great. Zina did a tremendous job with those players to get them ready for that.
CHRIS EVERT: Jamea Jackson, I mean, the last six months, she's had some big wins. I think what the USTA also has discovered is that, talking about competing against one another, a lot of these juniors that are very close in ability, they don't like to compete against each other. I see that.
And competition, if they learn how to compete and how to win a match, how to win a set, how to figure out how to win in practice, that will transfer over to tournament play. I think in the past, you know, a lot of these players, they just go out there and they drill, and they hit, do running drills. That's all great. That's part of the deal.
But they have competition to have matches. That's really how you learn yourself on the court how to win a match, how to be in a losing position and how to get out of that losing position when your back's against the wall. I think that intense competition, I think amongst each other, these junior players, I think that's really going to help them.
Q. You have a number of top pros coming out of your facility, Chris. Ivo Karlovic, Sébastien Grosjean, Vince Spadea. Are these players open to spending an hour hitting with a top junior?
BILLIE JEAN KING: Totally.
CHRIS EVERT: Sébastien Grosjean hits with our juniors every time he's there. Andy Roddick, when he comes. Andre has been there. Even if it takes two 18-year-olds, two top 18-year-olds to give, you know, a good workout to Andre - that won't happen that much - but let's put it this way. Sometimes it takes two 18-year-olds to really give them some practice, but, yes, they are very open. They've always been open. They've always reached out and said, you know, I'm coming down and do you have some players, and we provide them with players. That's their competition, so.
Q. How is the value of that for a young kid?
CHRIS EVERT: You have to understand --
BILLIE JEAN KING: Invaluable.
CHRIS EVERT: The USTA, the other thing which...(phone disconnected).
Q. John, you'll have to step in on that one.
CHRIS EVERT: I was just saying, you know, a lot of these players, junior players, their goal is professional tennis, but it's not a failure if they don't make the top hundred or 200 in the world and they play No. 1 on a college team, too. They're playing at a college or playing on a team, that's a great achievement, too.
At our academy I feel like it's still a great achievement if, okay, you know, something happens and they aren't as tall or they're not as strong as we thought they would be at 10 or 11 years old. But, God love them, they're No. 1 on a tennis team, they get a scholarship, and it's a great environment for them.
We have to think about all these options for kids.
BILLIE JEAN KING: We do think about them, but, unfortunately, I know this committee that I'm on, we want to have, you know, people winning the US Open on the weekend. So it's different.
I put different hats on, too, because I love like public park tennis and getting the critical mass playing. But when I'm in this particular position as Chairperson of the HP Committee, I got to put my hat on, that top 10 player in the world thinking.
CHRIS EVERT: Absolutely.
BILLIE JEAN KING: It's tough because I'm really concerned with the whole person.
CHRIS EVERT: They can't feel like they're failures if they're not top 10 or top 20 in the world. I think you still have to look at them as an individual. You can't set them up for failure. You have to encourage them. And, yes, we do want national champions, world champions, but there's different steps of being a champion, too.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Sure. I want them to be a champion off the court, too, but I'm just saying unfortunately in this position, I have to put the hat on of what we're talking about. The crazy ones like us, that really wanted it and couldn't stand to lose and want to be No. 1 or else that's it, you know, let's not putz around.
We need kids like that, at this level that they are going to win, they hate to lose and they're motivated. Also they have to have the God-given talent to back it up, not just want it.
Q. Can you address the subject of like players playing up? I'm basically talking about Donald Young who has been given a lot of wildcards.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I think that's hurt him, personally. I think, Paul, I think you should chime in on this. I think it hurt him. I wish Patrick were still here, that's too bad.
PAUL ROETERT: The general consensus is that players should play at their own level and have some success before they move up to the next level. They could test the waters occasionally and see how they do at a higher level, which is healthy. But you need to play at your own level, get some success and then move up to the next level. Most of our players do that.
Learning how to play tennis is one thing; learning how to win is something else. You also need to learn how to win.
Q. Can you address that. You think it's hurting him?
BILLIE JEAN KING: I do. I think he needs to win a few matches. You need to understand what it feels like to win, and you have to win enough to get that confidence.
So if you are totally in over your head, you're too young, and you totally are in way over your head, in a way, there's no pressure on him because, Oh, you know, it's great for my experience or that. But, to keep getting killed all the time, or beaten badly, is not good.
I think, personally, I think the kid should have to earn it. I think it's great what Paul and the team have done as far as having this playoffs for wildcards and stuff. I think that is fabulous.
You go out and you compete, and also it keeps it current. If someone's having a better week than somebody else, he or she is gonna be able to be getting into the tournament because they're having a good week or two.
But that's what we need. We need to be competitive. In the old days we used to drill in the morning and play sets in the afternoon. I used to watch Borg play Vitas here every year for five sets every day for practice. That's what Borg did.
Our kids do not want to practice or even play against each other. That is ludicrous. I don't know where that started. It must be the coaches and the parents. But get over it. You've got to compete. And if you don't like it, tough, then you shouldn't want to be a professional player. I mean, that's telling me you don't want to be a pro, which is fine, you don't have to be, play recreational tennis, fine. You've got to accept responsibility if that's what you say you want.
I know I've talked to the team, Paul and his team, and we think we need to create a much tougher - well, appropriately tougher - environment, and that we're not going to let someone sway us or this kid said that. If you're not cutting it, you're not cutting it, let's go. You know, find a way.
CHRIS EVERT: I think the problem with going back to playing up, I don't remember in our day we ever did that.
BILLIE JEAN KING: See, I always did. I always did. You didn't play up?
CHRIS EVERT: No.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I did.
CHRIS EVERT: I mean, I won the 12 Nationals when I was 12, won the 14 Nationals when I was 14. I think what junior tennis did to me, was when I got into the pros, winning was normal.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Thank you.
CHRIS EVERT: That's the key word, "normal." Winning wasn't, Oh, my God, I won a match. Losing didn't come into my mind.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Right. I didn't think I was gonna lose. I don't think it's good for Donald to keep losing. I think you learn how to lose. I think when you win --
CHRIS EVERT: But the more you win, the more it becomes normal.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Correct. I always spend more time with a player when they win than when they lose. You know how people say, I learn so much more when I lose? I don't believe that. I sit with them and say, Why did you win? That's what I want them to remember, is why did you win, not, Oh, I learned so many lessons because I lost.
You learn how to win when you win. These are just obvious things to me. I don't know why everyone is, Oh, there's so much...
We do learn from life when we lose, there's no question. But it's telling a child or a young person, Why did you win, is what I want to know. And you'd be surprised. They usually can't answer it.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Well, we're coming up to about an hour in. I'm sure my team can stay here. I don't know what everybody else's deadlines are like.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Got me so fired up. Media's got me so fired up, man.
CHRIS EVERT: The big question is how is that forehand of yours?
BILLIE JEAN KING: I actually have one. How's your topspin second serve?
Oh, we have some funny stories. Oh, God.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: I'd like to ask John Evert if there's anything else you would like to add. You've been so involved. John runs the academy and has been so involved in our negotiation of this transaction.
JOHN EVERT: Well, after this conversation, I'm not sure anybody wants a quote from me (laughter).
No, I just want to thank you, Franklin, for your confidence in the academy, and also Arlen and Paul and Jane Brown back there for her support.
You know, listening to this conversation, the easy part is on the court, other than I think everybody agrees that the kids got to compete more. The tough part is off the court. What I would like to do with my management team is not only build a building, which it's gonna be a nice building, I promise you it will be a nice building, but really work on the environment, on the energy, on the spirit of what happens off the court with these kids, you know, and making sure that my team is doing the right stuff in the dorm in terms of counseling, security, feeding the kids, and that type of thing, just kind of facilitating the whole thing. So I look forward to that.
Q. Have you broken ground on the building?
JOHN EVERT: No.
Q. Where is that building going?
BILLIE JEAN KING: No, we just finished the contract.
JOHN EVERT: It's in the press release, but we're shooting for September 2007.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: Which doesn't mean that we won't have kids starting to be in residence in the existing facility.
Q. How young will you house kids there?
PAUL ROETERT: The age range is going to be about 14 to 18. That's the goal, target area, 14 to 18. We don't want to go too much younger. We don't think it's healthy to have kids living away from home at a young age.
CHRIS EVERT: But you'll have weekly, like you've had already, the 10 to 12 kids come in for a week. You know, that's a good thing.
I personally would like to say that I've seen the 10 to 14, we've had a lot of these girls come into the academy, the USTA has sent them, and they are very, very impressive - very. You touched upon it. I have to agree they're very, very impressive.
Just one more comment about what John Evert had to say. I think also off the court managing the parents, I think that will be another issue. I think we had a lot of success at our academy doing that, and I think that's to keep the parents in the loop and to be participating with their child in a productive way. I think we've done that really well with our kids, and I hope we can help the USTA with that also.
Q. Is there an increase or change in the budget in terms of scholarship for players or anything like that that corresponds with this?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: I don't know that I fully understand your question.
BILLIE JEAN KING: What do you mean, change in the budget?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: This particular move will bring about higher budgets, undoubtedly. At our July Board meeting we actually have that on our agenda. We, during the summer, plan for our budget usually on a two-year cycle ahead.
We definitely will have budget implications, but the Board has already voiced their full support for what we're doing. I don't think we'll have any difficulty.
Q. Can you give us a sense on what the USTA's financial commitment is for this whole effort we're talking about?
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: A lot (laughing). As I say, it's somewhat in flux based on what we'll decide at this next meeting. We're committed to everything that's related to High Performance, somewhere in the 15 million a year.
PAUL ROETERT: We need to have players doing well here in the second week and at the US Open in the second week. So we have to make a commitment.
Q. Isn't there a savings involved, too? These kids coming into Key Biscayne, do you have to house them for a few days? Some very expensive hotels out there.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: Yeah, that was one of our problems in Key Biscayne, of no cheaper hotels. There will be some savings from that, but overall it will definitely be more expensive.
PAUL ROETERT: There will be some savings for our coaching education programs, bringing coaches in and/or parents staying with kids.
BILLIE JEAN KING: That's still a really small budget when you consider France and other countries. We are huge, man. We are so spread out. It's not that easy.
Q. Does that mean the price of a hot dog is going to go up at the US Open (laughter)? Got to come from somewhere.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: It's got to come from somewhere.
Q. France has no academies to speak of. France has very few academies like the States has. A lot of the European countries have their own --
PAUL ROETERT: We've studied quite a few of the countries, actually. France, for example, has 50 national coaches; we have 18. Big difference. They do have two training centers, one for the older kids, one for the younger kids just outside of Paris.
We've just visited Spain earlier this year. We've really studied the other countries to see what they do. We're going to pick and choose what works for us. This is the American system. It has to fit in with what our system is. I'm firmly committed to this. I think this is going to be the greatest thing where we fit it into what's best for our American players.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I just think it's great to have Chris and John, great resources. Chris, being such a champion, just for her just to be around the kids is just incredible. I've been down there and she goes and hits with all the little ones. I mean, just her work ethic, just to have that spill over on the kids and see Chris's concentration and intensity, that's what the kids have to see. They have to understand what it means and how hard you have to work. If they don't see the best, they don't know what the best is.
So I think it's so great that Chris and John and the academy, I mean, I really take my hat off to you, Franklin, and your leadership and the Board, Jane, everybody, Paul and Arlen. I just think this is great. We're being proactive. We're going to go for it. At least we're going to give it a go. We got nothing to lose, let's go.
CHRIS EVERT: Absolutely.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Let's do it.
You know, this generation went through a lot of changes in our sport back in the '60s and '70s, all of us oldies now. I don't think change is so fearful to us as it was to the former generations that ran the USTA. I think this generation, the '60s and '70s when there was a lot of upheaval in our sport, we went from amateurism to professionalism, we went through a lot of change. The ATP started, WTA started, there was a lot of changes. We all went through that. We're not afraid of change if we think it's gonna help. You should keep the good things, but change the things that need to be changed. I think this generation has that opportunity.
Q. Billie or Paul, it seems to me that getting racquets into young kids' hands is really key, but how do you address or have you thought about just the issue of proficiency in tennis? It's hard to become good enough in tennis to sort of stick with the game. You can get out on a soccer field, kick the ball around pretty easily. But I think what happens with kids is that it's a highly skilled motor sport, tennis, and it's not easy to pick it up. How do you address that issue besides making it fun for kids and making it more team-oriented?
PAUL ROETERT: It's a great question. We actually have a program that we're working on currently that we haven't announced yet so I can't tell the press about it yes, so I'll tell you right now.
What we are planning to do is we're planning to roll out a new program, probably early next year, based on modified equipment. We want young 7-and-under kids, 9-and-under kids to play with equipment that's appropriate for their strength, maturity, etc.
You may say, Well, we've heard this before, you've had smaller racquets, lighter balls, smaller courts. That will all be part of this. What's new about this program that we'll be introducing, it's not just the training program, but we're setting up a competitive structure alongside of it. Other countries have done this. Belgium and France in particular have done quite a good job in the full-time program. Justine Henin came through that program, Kim Clijsters, Roger Federer. As you can tell, some of those players actually have one-handed backhands and are able to swing the racquet in a proper swing pattern.
So this is not just a community tennis effort. It's not just, Hey, let's hit and giggle, roll out the balls and have fun, which is part of it. We want to have fun. But in addition to that, it teaches proper skills, proper swing pattern, because the racquets are light enough and balls are light enough that they can actually swing properly. It's a great question.
Q. Is this similar to the ITF?
PAUL ROETERT: Yes, but it's not exactly the same.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: The ITF research has been so clear that retention of players, which is the problem you're going to, people trying it and then discarding it, has so much improved with this soft ball, particularly for kids, if you learn with a soft ball, which is so much easier to hit. The countries that have tried that have had much better success. So we definitely believe in that in terms of the introduction of tennis.
PAUL ROETERT: We have to make it easy.
BILLIE JEAN KING: It's the height of the ball when it bounces. When you're a baby, you're really short, we have a regular tennis ball. The reason they have these grips is they're hitting everything up here. That's why that grip develops and they're too far under. So if you give them a short ball, they don't know what to do. If you give them a short ball, they can just hit short crosscourt.
So anyway, that's why, though. So if you have a ball that bounces lower so it's more in tune with you as if you were an adult, you know, taller, then it works.
I know France has three balls that go from the little ones to the intermediate to the top.
PAUL ROETERT: They do. Belgium actually started with seven.
We also have to make it easy as far as court sizes for teaching professionals, so we're going with 36 foot courts and 60 foot courts. 36 feet is obviously the width of a court so we could put six courts on a regular tennis court. For teaching professionals, they don't want to do too much work to set up a court. It has to be somewhat easy.
Q. You might as well announce it. You've given us all the details. Get the guy at the end to write a press release.
PAUL ROETERT: I don't want to tell Chris Widmaier about it yet (laughter).
BILLIE JEAN KING: I think you can see that Paul and his team and everyone has done a lot of research. They've gone to Barcelona, they've gone to France. A lot has been going on behind the scenes, I don't think all of you probably realized until today.
I know Franklin came up through the public parks like I did in southern California. We're big on access and public parks. You'll get some kids from blue-collar families that will have some hunger, I think, if we can get the public parks.
It's all about the people and the first experience you have, though. When you go to the park for the first time, a human being has to be there. You can't have two courts just sitting there. Is it going to be a fun, wonderful experience? First memories are huge, first experiences. You ask any of the pro players about the first time they remember playing tennis, it's very important to how they feel about it today. If they had a negative experience, they don't seem to be as happy as the ones who had good ones. I've done this with so many players, you wouldn't believe it.
I had a great experience my first free group lesson in the parks. I had a great experience. I wanted to be No. 1 in the world after my first experience (laughter).
So, I know, but it was because of the person, because of Clyde Walker. I'm sure it was like Jimmy Evert for Chris. I know it was your dad, but, still, he made it fun, I would hope. Maybe he didn't. Maybe he didn't.
CHRIS EVERT: He didn't.
BILLIE JEAN KING: It was so much --
CHRIS EVERT: (Laughing) It's okay. It's okay. I was a good daughter. I did whatever he asked.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Exactly. That's what I did for my parents, All right, daddy. Whatever you want, you're the boss. I mean, we come from very similar backgrounds.
CHRIS EVERT: I wasn't you, Billie.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Oh, no, no. In those days I was shy. I didn't say, Whatever. I said, Yes, sir.
CHRIS EVERT: I think that, you know, going back to the team sport, that's why, you know, usually your first experience with team sports, day one, is going to be great because you got your buddies with you right alongside you. And I think Billie Jean is right. It's individual. Tennis is a little different. Hopefully, most of the kids will have good experiences.
BILLIE JEAN KING: It's about the person.
CHRIS EVERT: It could be a turnoff, too, if you don't have a good experience.
BILLIE JEAN KING: It's all about the person that's there to introduce the program or organize, they don't have to be a pro. Do you like this person, as a child? Are they nice? It's kind of like a coach almost, do you want to play hard for them. If they make it fun, you know, then you go, Oh, I love this. So first experience is really important.
Q. With the weather in Florida, particularly the summer and all the rain, any indoor facility?
JOHN EVERT: Not planned. Not planned right now. The weather hasn't hurt us.
BILLIE JEAN KING: We have clay. It absorbs it. Come on.
CHRIS EVERT: The kids need breaks once in a while.
JOHN EVERT: We've never gone more than two days.
CHRIS EVERT: When it rained when I was growing up, it was like a vacation. We would go to the movies. You need a break. We're not a factory down there.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: I think we have time for about two more questions. I know other people have things on their schedules today, including you all.
Q. What happens to Key Biscayne?
PAUL ROETERT: Key Biscayne is a public tennis facility. It will continue to operate as such. There's a teaching program there. We are actually leasing space from the county. The county would love to take over our office space. We will continue to play the Orange Bowl tennis tournament there, so there will continue to be a relationship with Key Biscayne in that respect.
Q. Chris, don't you have a Chanda Rubin event at your facility?
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah. Chanda, I think Chanda did three or four events, right, John?
JOHN EVERT: Yeah, there's a circuit, but one of them was at our facility. But, Paul, you might want to talk about that.
PAUL ROETERT: That's one of the 17 ITF junior tournaments in this country, one of them is at the Evert Academy and will continue to be there. As I mentioned earlier, we'll be taking over that circuit as USTA.
CHRIS EVERT: Do the press even know, I mean, she's put money into a circuit.
PAUL ROETERT: Chanda's been great. Chanda has been great supporting that.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Chanda has been unbelievable. Chanda understands. Chanda started first, then Roddick joined. Chanda has always understood giving back. She's one of the players that totally gets it. She's unbelievable.
CHRIS EVERT: She's put 40 or 50 grand every year to the USTA circuits.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I always ask players, Have you put money in the game, and then you know they're for real. Not get money from the game, give.
FRANKLIN JOHNSON: And Andy Roddick has joined that effort, as well.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: I'd like to thank everybody, and especially you, Chrissie, for joining us so early in the morning and sticking with us.
CHRIS EVERT: It's starting to get light here actually.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Can you go back to sleep or no? The kids are up.
CHRIS EVERT: Yeah, I will, I will.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I know you need your ten hours. Get'em, baby.
CHRIS EVERT: Not anymore. It's a little different story.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I know, with the kids. I know, mamahood.
CHRIS EVERT: Thank you for including me.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Great hearing your voice.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: As you can see, we do have our friends from ASAP here, so we will be getting a transcript. It's going to take me a little bit longer to get it to you guys as we'll have to have it e-mailed. I'll have to find a way to print it, so it's not going to be as snappy as the US Open, but we'll do our best to get it to you quickly.
Of course throughout the day, if anybody has any follow-up questions or needs to reach anybody as you're writing your stories, just come through me and I will facilitate. I have my Blackberry here, you can e-mail me. I'm sure everybody has my cell. It's 914-548-3104. If you need somebody in particular, if I could be helpful in any way, just get in touch with me. I'll be on site most of the day, if not the entire day.
Again, I wanted to thank everybody. I'd like to thank Paul, Arlen, Franklin, certainly Billie Jean, and you, John, for being here. I'll pass a belated thanks to Patrick as well.
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