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December 13, 2006

Jane Brown Grimes

Zina Garrison

Arlen Kantarian

CHRIS WIDMAIER: I'd like to thank everyone for joining us on this media conference call regarding the 2007 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. Before we get started, two quick housekeeping notes:
First, the U.S. Fed Cup team will open the 2007 campaign April 21st and 22nd against Belgium at a site to be selected by the USTA. For the record, this will be only the second home tie for the U.S. Fed Cup team in the past four years.
We have with us today incoming USTA president and chairman of the board, Jane Brown Grimes, and also on hand is the USTA's chief of professional tennis, Arlen Kantarian. We also have a special guest, who many of you may have figured out, who will be speaking as well.
Without further ado, I'm going to turn this over to Jane Brown Grimes for our official announcement.
JANE BROWN GRIMES: Thank you, Chris.
I am very pleased to announce that Zina Garrison will continue as U.S. Fed Cup captain for the 2007 season. Over the past three years, Zina has maintained a close relationship with our top players as well as fostering our young, up-and-coming players. Last year we took a group of talented players to the semifinal and we're looking forward to an exciting and competitive campaign this year. Believe me, no one wants to win the Fed Cup for the U.S. more than Zina.
And now I'd like to ask Zina to say a few words about the upcoming year.
ZINA GARRISON: Thank you, Jane.
I'd also like to first of all thank the USTA and also thank Jane Brown Grimes and also Arlen Kantarian for once again believing in me for the opportunity to lead Fed Cup for 2007. I'm really very, very excited about this, first and foremost that I have the opportunity to once again play in my home country, which I'm very excited about.
We also have a lot of young and exciting players, also some players that would be coming back from injuries. Hopefully we're looking forward to having a great year. So thank you, guys.
I'm ready for the questions.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: We'll go ahead and open it up to questions from the media.

Q. Zina, is it too early or have you had any conversations with players to have a sense of who might be playing for the team in April?
ZINA GARRISON: No, it's not too early. Actually I've kind of been feeling people out right before Thanksgiving. Now they're basically in their process of doing their schedule anyway.
Everyone is very interested in possibly playing in Fed Cup because I think a big part of it is that we'll have the opportunity to actually play in our home country.

Q. Can you go into any specifics?
ZINA GARRISON: Well, actually first of all, I think we have 11 players with the U.S. that are in the top hundred. I've talked to basically the top 50. They're in the process of making their schedule. They're very interested and looking forward to it.
I cannot make a team. I can't say actually who it would possibly be, but everyone I've talked to is interested in the possibility of playing for their home country.

Q. Is it important to you to have the same players from tie to tie, or if someone were to say, 'I only want to play at home,' you would accept that? If it were a top player, would you take them for April, not necessarily having them later in the year?
ZINA GARRISON: I think it's very important for me to basically get a commitment to want to win Fed Cup. I also look at the possibility of ranking, where they are, the surface, where we're going to play, all of that.
Yes, I'm no different than any other coach. I would like to get a commitment saying, Hey, I would play all possible three ties. Sometimes it doesn't always work out like that. I also like to think about from situation to situation, the possibilities of how I look at players.

Q. You lost to Belgium last year 4-1. You've got them again. Is the home cooking going to make the difference this time around?
ZINA GARRISON: I think, first and foremost, you don't really know if their top players will actually come over, as well. I think they'll run against the same problem as actually we did. I know they possibly will play the U.S. clay courts, but then would they want to go back over and have to get ready for the red clay. All those things are going to come under play.
For me, being a competitor, hey, a win is a win. When I saw we had the opportunity to play them, and considering a lot of us got sick over there, I would like to basically be on my home surface and actually play them.

Q. Talking a little bit about last year, which players on your young team did you see the most improvement in?
ZINA GARRISON: Right now, Vania King and also Jamea Jackson. They both since Germany have made strides into the world of professional tennis. I'm very excited about Vania, singles and doubles. She's been playing extremely well. She's very hungry. We have two young players that I think are doing a good job into the leap of possibly being some of our good players.

Q. Talking about this season, do you expect the makeup of your club to be similar to last year with such a youthful squad or are you hoping for more of a blend with some veteran leadership?
ZINA GARRISON: I would like a blend. I mean, I also would like players that are playing well, that are confident. We have until April. I think the beginning of the year tournaments basically have a tendency to tell you how people are feeling for the beginning part of the year, leading into the middle part of the year.
I think if they can get a good startoff, leading into April, you know, I would definitely like a blend.

Q. What is your reaction to Lindsay, who looks like is going to retire now that she's pregnant? She was a long-time Fed Cup competitor. Talk about what she brought to the team in her career, all of that.
ZINA GARRISON: For me, Lindsay, I've known her since she was probably like 14 or 15. I actually was very excited for her. I know she's a very family-oriented person. Her husband is great. They both come from a great family. She's done such wonderful things for women's tennis and also for women, period, in sports.
I always use her as an example to the younger players. I mean, I think Lindsay is the epitome of a true professional on the court and off the court as well. I'm very excited for her.

Q. Can you talk about what it's going to take to get Serena to play Fed Cup again. I don't believe she's played since 2003.
ZINA GARRISON: Getting Serena on the court, that's the first thing (laughter).

Q. She's playing exhibitions now. There's got to be some capability of playing.
ZINA GARRISON: Yeah, you know, I've actually had conversations with her sister before. It's just a matter of getting her on the court and getting her to be consistent about playing. I think she's made some great strides actually this year. I thought she played pretty well at the Open. Just a little bit unexperienced from not having as much. Hopefully she can go into 2007 and finish off where she left off.

Q. Can you talk a little more about Vania King. She hit the top 50 there for a little while. She finished 60. She wins Bangkok. I was speaking to her the other day, and she didn't even imagine she would get that far at the beginning of the year. Talk about some of the positives in her game.
ZINA GARRISON: First of all, I'll just talk about the positives basically of her as a person. It's been a long time. I actually tell Vania all the time, I compare her to someone like Lindsay. The confidence that she has within herself I think will take her a long, long way. She's a very strong baseliner. Her serve is improving each and every day.
I think she did an exceptional move by actually working with the USTA High Performance now, getting on a good training program. She's doing some things that is going to take her to the next level.
I haven't seen someone that has the heart that she had in a very long time. That's what it takes to be a champion, is to be able to totally believe in what you believe in as far as your game is concerned when no one else believes, because you're the only one out there playing.
She is a very, very confident young player. She's very hungry. She wants to be a top player.

Q. It's been since 2000 that the U.S. hasn't won the Fed Cup title. Is it fair to say that the biggest impediment is getting the best players to play?
ZINA GARRISON: It's hard for me to say that it's fair because I think we've also had a lot of other circumstances that were out of our control. Basically the fact that we had the opportunity we had, Venus, Serena played in Delray in April, Lindsay and Venus were set to play in Russia, and then Lindsay's back gets hurt. It's just like we've had -- we've been a lot more unlucky with injuries and things like that. I think it's going to help the fact that we're going to have the possibility of two ties in the States. I think that will help.
It kind of hurts me that we haven't won it since 2000. I know the players want it just as much as me to be back in the United States. It's just the circumstances.

Q. Zina, you know Venus about as well as anybody on tour. Are you concerned for her long-term health? She's had a tough time the last few years with injuries.
ZINA GARRISON: Yeah, I've actually been concerned about her health for some time now. Venus is long, lanky. She looks very strong, athletic. Sometimes it can kind of wear on your body the way her body moves kind of all over the place sometimes.
I think it's a situation where I'm a firm believer I think you have to play more to kind of keep your body going. Sometimes when you have long breaks, you come back, you're playing as hard as you did when you left off, I think it brings on more possibilities to be injured.

Q. Have you spoken to Jennifer at all in the last six months?
ZINA GARRISON: Not in the last six months. I actually emailed her like nine months ago. It was just kind of like, Hi, how are you doing? She said, Fine, just enjoying life. That was it.

Q. Not hitting?
ZINA GARRISON: That's all she said, just enjoying. I said, okay.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: I want to thank everybody for taking the time today. I appreciate it greatly. Thank you, Zina. Thank you, Jane, Arlen.

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