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OUTBACK CHAMPIONS SERIES MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 30, 2007
RANDY WALKER: Thank you all for joining us today. I want to introduce, calling in from Dallas, Texas, today is tennis Hall of Famer and co-founding partner of Inside Out Sports and Entertainment and the 2006 Outback Champions Series year-end points champion, Jim Courier. Jim.
JIM COURIER: Thank you very much, Randy. Thanks, everyone, for being on the call, joining us today. We're here to talk about the 2007 Outback Champions Series. Obviously most of you will have heard some of our big news that came out earlier today. We will talk about that in a little bit more detail in a few minutes.
Giving an overview of the tour, we started this with one tournament, the Stanford Cup, in Houston, at the end of 2005. We have quickly grown that up to five events last year. We will now be going to six events in 2007. We're very excited about that growth. Champions tennis has been well-received in the U.S., and we're thrilled with that.
As far as our 2007 schedule goes, I'll get into that in a second. As far as who qualifies for the tour, our criteria is to be over the age of 30 and not be a full-time singles player on the ATP Tour. You need to have reached at least a Grand Slam final or been in the top five of the ATP rankings or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. There are a little over 40 people worldwide that qualify under that criteria.
For the schedule for 2007, which will be distributed via email here quickly, we are doing six tournaments. Our first event is in Naples. We have a new title sponsor for Naples in the Oliver Group. That event will be played March 7 through 11. That is coming up rather quickly.
In Boston, we have a new venue. We're moving to the Boston University, an indoor hockey arena, for the Champions Cup Boston, May 2 through 6.
As has been wildly reported, Pete Sampras will be making his Champions Series debut there. We're looking forward to that.
Our next event is our sixth event of the series. It's a new venue. I'm really pumped about this. We're going to be going to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, for the Gibson Guitar Champions Cup. That is going to be played on grass courts obviously. Those dates are August 22 through 26, leading right up into the US Open, which should be pretty excellent.
We will be back in Charlotte September 26th through 30th for the Champions at the Palisades. That was a fantastic event last year and I won it, so I'm even sweeter on it.
We have another new venue in Dallas, Texas. I'm calling from the Stanford financial offices here, and Stanford Championships will be played here October 17 through 21 at the Dr. Pepper Star Center. We had a local press conference earlier today to that effect.
Our final stop on the series will be back in Houston once again. That is November 7 through 11, back where we started. That is good news.
I guess without further ado, I'll bring in Pete Sampras, who is on the phone with us today from Los Angeles. For me it's a personal highlight of what we've done so far with champions tennis to welcome Pete into the fold for Outback Champions Series tennis. It's something that we've discussed for quite a while. I'm very pleased that Pete will be making his debut in Boston.
We're working on his schedule now to determine what works for him later in this year, hopefully get him involved in several more events. But starting in Boston will be wonderful for me personally to have Pete back in the locker room, back on the court. I think I'm about 16 or 17 matches down in our career rankings.
PETE SAMPRAS: At least.
JIM COURIER: At least.
PETE SAMPRAS: Missed a couple.
JIM COURIER: I may have forgotten a few. I will be looking forward to getting back there and having a crack at Pete. We're looking to a big year here at the Outback Champions Series, and I guess we can open it up to questions for Pete and myself.
Q. Justin Gimelstob recently said, based on what he saw from your game, you're now playing the second best ball in all of tennis. Any temptation to suit it up for Wimbledon, a run on the grass?
PETE SAMPRAS: No. I think when we all retire, we all have thoughts of playing again, seeing if you can still compete in today's game. My playing days are over, at least on the ATP Tour. It's a lot of work. It's a whole different lifestyle that I'm done with.
That being said, I am hitting the ball pretty well, been hitting pretty consistently for the past six months. I still can play at a pretty good level. I still feel like I can maybe compete against some of the guys. To take it coming out of retirement is something that is farfetched. Using a bigger racquet, a little technology, has definitely helped as far as power and keeping the ball in the court. It's really amazing what technology has done for the guys today. I'm trying it. It's been fun to experiment with different things.
But to play Wimbledon again is something that really isn't realistic.
Q. To ask the $64,000 question, if you're playing Roger on medium-speed hard court, do you charge? What is your tactic and strategy?
PETE SAMPRAS: I would try to. I think he would be pretty tough to come in on. I think that was kind of my game against anyone. Against the guys I competed against, I tried to come in, tried to attack second serves, always stay back some, but look to come in.
Against Roger, it wouldn't be different than playing Jim or an Andre, to really try to come in and take their time away. I think it's tough to stay back against Roger. You see what he's doing against guys that are staying back, he's just chopping them apart.
I would just try to come in and see if he could return well and pass off that backhand, which I'm sure he would probably figure out over time. But I think that would be my strategy, would be to rush him. Just have to bring in the gas and hopefully it's good enough.
Q. What kind of result do you think there would be in such an instance? Hard to say?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's hard to say. I think the game looks a lot faster today 'cause technology has a little bit to do with that versus when I played in the mid '90s. I think if Roger and I played -- he beat me that one time at Wimbledon, but I think he's gotten better since then. It's really hard to say. I don't think one guy really would have dominated the other. I think I would have had my fair share of wins, and I think he would have had his fair share of wins.
I think our games are pretty similar, but I would look to come in a little more, little more of an attacking player, whereas he was a little bit of a slasher, shot-maker. It would have been a great clash to see us in our primes. What Roger is doing that I never did is dominate the way he is. He's lost five matches in two years. That's unheard of in the sport.
But I just feel like my game is too big to be dominated by someone when my game was on, when my serve was on. I felt I was tough to beat, felt unbeatable.
Q. You might put him on the defensive a little bit?
PETE SAMPRAS: I would try to. Easier said than done. I think he moves so well and he's so good off both sides and serves so well. I would try to rush him and do my best to do this. It would be tough because he moves well, can get to a lot of serves, a lot of volleys. He can do some great things when he's on the run.
It is hard to say what would happen. When I came on and McEnroe was going out, people wondered how he and I would play. We just kind of missed each other for a few years. Same thing kind of happened with Roger and I.
Q. Pete, when you did meet that one time on court Roger won. Did you have an inkling then of how good he was going to be?
PETE SAMPRAS: I did. I felt he was pretty special back then, hitting great shots, really surprised me, kind of caught me off guard. I heard of him and his game. First time I played him, I was very, very impressed. He ended up losing the next match against Henman. I think that was just a sign of a little inconsistency at the time. But the game was there.
I just think over the past four or five years he has figured out what he has to do. He's a lot more secure in his game. He has an aura about him that guys do fear him. Just a remarkable player. Even when I played him back at Wimbledon there were signs of it. Now I think he's honed it in and has become a lot more consistent. But back then I knew he was special.
Q. When you walked away from the game, that No. 14 looked like a DiMaggio number or something. Did you ever imagine anybody ever might be chasing it down this quick?
PETE SAMPRAS: I thought it would take longer than seven or eight years. Looks like it's going to happen. I see him passing me in the next couple years and even taking it to 17 or 18 majors. I don't see two or three guys really threatening him. I think he's just going to get better. Guys are going to have their moments against him, but I just think he's got that extra gear that guys don't have.
Even when he's not playing that well he just seems to find a way to win. I don't see anyone really pushing him. I just see him winning 17, 18, 19 majors. He has 10 already and he is in the middle of his career.
But I did think 14 would be a tough number to surpass. But, you know, he just kind of came in at the right time, is playing tremendous tennis. I don't see him stopping now.
Q. Do you enjoy watching him when you're seeing him? Is it hard for you to see him doing so well?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm a fan of his game, his temperament, the way he handles himself on and off the court. I do picture myself how I would play him. Now that I'm sitting on my couch watching, I just kind of marvel at the things he's able to do. Great mover, does great things off both sides of the court, can come in when he has to, and has a pretty big first serve. He has the whole package. There's really nothing he can't do.
I just love it. He just makes it look easy. He's smooth, a great athlete.
Q. Sometimes people question the lack of buzz around Federer, whether Roger's ease, the effortlessness with which he plays, if that plays against him a little bit?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, to some extent in this country. He's Swiss. That might not transcend the sport like an American would or a couple Americans would. He's a great guy. He's low-key. To some extent in this country we need a little -- we like a little more controversy, a little more story in there, whereas I think Roger is just more businesslike. He goes out there and dominates. I kind of held that for a few years in the '90s, made it look too easy or dominated.
I think it will be tough to transcend it. I think a rivalry will help. Hopefully one of the Americans, either Blake or Roddick can push him a little bit more to get more attention. But I think what he's doing, I think he does get plenty of really good press, especially with Tiger doing what he's doing, kind of the comparison they both have. I think there's a lot of news there.
You know, it's just amazing what he's been able to do and how consistent he's been able to keep it up. Like I said, he's not an American. He's not going to totally transcend the sport here. I think he needs a little help. Even Nadal can help him just add a little bit of kind of competition, especially when it comes to the majors.
Roddick really is the main guy that could really transcend it if he could push him a little bit more. I feel like if Roddick competed harder against him in Australia, maybe beat him, I think people in this country would have obviously heard about it, because it would have been big news. It could have developed into something bigger.
Q. Does Roddick have a setback in that mentally or physically, or is he still the guy to close the gap eventually?
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't see the Australian match. I saw some of it. He might have taken a step back. I think he came pretty close at the Open, had a match point against him in Shanghai. I think we all kind of felt like he was on the verge here to finally beating Roger.
To kind of lose the way he did, I think Roger wanted to set the record straight that he is clearly the best player and no one really can push him to four or even five sets.
Roddick does have a big game, but I think he seems uncomfortable playing Roger. I think Roger moves really well, using the backhand slice, keeps it low. Roddick, they play similar games, but Roger is that much better at it. There's signs there that he could push him a little bit more, but I just think Roger has that extra gear to impose his will.
Roddick really doesn't. He doesn't have that extra gear, or at least be able to maintain it for a couple hours, whereas Roger seems to be able to play at that level for two straight days.
Q. Did you identify a number of Outback Series events you'd like to compete in? And specifically, if you had any thoughts towards whether you would be at the Charlotte event?
PETE SAMPRAS: The only tournament I'm committed to is Boston. I'm going to see how that goes. Haven't made any plans for anything after that. Just going to see how it feels playing in Boston. I'd like to play more. We'll just kind of play it by ear on that one.
Q. Getting back, is this something you were itching to do or something that seemed like a good opportunity when it was presented to you? How did you get back involved?
PETE SAMPRAS: I basically got my feet wet a little last year, played a little Team Tennis, a few exhibitions here and there. I've talked to Jim over the past couple years just about his events, what he has to offer. I thought about it. I felt this year was an opportunity for me to kind of take it to the next level, play at a higher level, play against former greats, Jim, John, the rest of the guys.
You're playing to some extent a tournament. There's a time and place for exhibitions, but a tournament, where you have prize money, I think we all go out taking it a little more sense of urgency. I'm kind of looking forward to taking it to the next level. I prepare a little bit harder. Playing four matches hopefully in five days, I'll have to be in a little bit of shape.
I'm looking forward to it. It's not anything like it used to be, but it's still a little bit of what it used to be, which is something I'm looking forward to. Playing against Jim, who I played in Carson here, that was the first time I kind of got my juices going. It was fun. Felt like old times. I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to a little of that. We'll see how it goes in Boston.
Q. Have you ever played in a tournament before where you've had the chance to beat up on the co-owner of the series? Is that something new for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Going to be something new for both of us. Jim has been trying to get me to play. Now I'm going to go into the event, try to beat him. Jim and I, we always have left it on the court. He's been a good friend for many years, since we were teenagers growing up on the tour. In some ways I think all the older guys are thankful that he's kind of put the time into this tour, kind of give us something to do, something to strive for.
Other than that, we'd be even more bored. I think Jim has done a great job transferring his tennis into some business. It's been fun to see and watch him make it from one event to now he's got six this year. Pretty good effort.
Q. Jim, what does it mean for you? You've been working hard, promoting the tournament here in Charlotte. What does it mean for you to have a name like Pete Sampras to identify in the tour only the second year? What does that name mean to you guys?
JIM COURIER: Having Pete reengage in the sport of tennis last year in general was a great thing for tennis. For us at the Outback Champions Series to have Pete come out and compete is enormous, because he is one of the all-time greats, such a fan favorite all over the world, but he is an American player, too.
I know American tennis fans everywhere that we go, one of the first questions that I get is, Will Pete play? What is Pete doing? Is he interested?
It has been a process over a couple of years of letting Pete know what goes on at these events. I think all of us, myself included, before I decided to come and play tournament tennis again, are curious as to what it feels like. There's the fear factor you're not going to enjoy it.
One thing that I've told Pete, it's from experience, is that there's a lot of joy in going out and competing when you can own your own tennis, when you own your schedule, you play when you want to. You don't have to get on a plane and go to places that you're not comfortable going to just because you're chasing a ranking.
It's about staying involved in the sport, doing something that you're singularly talented and gifted at, and also giving back to the sport that's given so much to you.
Obviously it's huge for us to have Pete involved. We want him involved as much as he wants to be involved. I'm looking forward to Boston and getting back out there, having a swing at him. As I mentioned before, my career record against him is pretty lousy.
RANDY WALKER: Head-to-head is 16-4 in favor of Pete. They played in all Grand Slams.
JIM COURIER: I don't think I get credit for the win for the qualifying in Paris.
PETE SAMPRAS: That's not official (laughter).
JIM COURIER: That is official, but doesn't count.
PETE SAMPRAS: I'll give you 16-5 (laughter).
JIM COURIER: Next question, please (laughter).
Q. Pete, you raised the issue of what it would have been like to play McEnroe in his prime. How do you think you would have matched up with McEnroe with both of you in your prime? Also, how do you feel you match up with McEnroe and Courier now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I feel pretty good. Like I said earlier, I've been hitting two, three times a week for the past six, eight months just to get in shape. Still enjoy hitting. I actually played Jim in Carson. I was pretty jacked up for it and played pretty good.
As far as me playing John, I played him at the end of his career. I think that I was kind of one of the first guys to really - I don't want to say overpower him - but kind of with a little technology kind of use that power to beat him a couple times.
In our prime, it's hard to say who would have been the more dominant player. I think it's so hard to compare the generations from the '80s and '90s. I think as far as talent-wise, McEnroe is right up there with what he could do, the shot-making he could pull off, serve-and-volley tennis, which is the sort of tennis I had a hard time with at times, great volleys, great movement.
It's just hard to compare the generations. I think it would have been a great match-up, him kind of being the fiery one, me being a little more reserved. Just certain moments of tennis, they talk about Roger and I, we kind of missed each other. It's happened throughout the years of tennis. But John and I would have been a great clash.
Q. Do you think it would have been a fight for who could have controlled the net?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it would have boiled down to who returned a little better, who put the pressure on the opponent's service games. One thing I didn't mind with John -- I never really liked playing big servers like Goran or Krajicek. With John, the fact I could pick up on his serve a little bit didn't worry me too much. I think what worried me would be his net movement, being able to get my backhand past him, the fact that he kept the ball low on the serve, moved great.
He would have posed a lot of problems. He was a great mover. It would have been good tennis, serve-and-volley tennis, which is kind of what we don't see any more today. Two guys that play the same, whoever would have done a little better that day would have won.
JIM COURIER: See what happens in Boston.
PETE SAMPRAS: Let's see what happens in Boston.
Q. Jim, how do you think you would have matched up against McEnroe in his prime?
JIM COURIER: I think John and I did play a couple of times. He played me when I was very raw on the tour. I played him as he was exiting. The last match he played in Grand Slam tennis, I beat him at the US Open. John is one of those players who is also caught in a different kind of transition period that Pete is talking about where technology really evolved in his period of the game from wood racquets into graphite. It's obviously gone on from there with I think the string being the major difference these days to technology. John didn't have that aspect of it.
Certainly his touch, his feel, his incredible court sense and awareness, which Pete shares, that's a rare commodity in tennis. What I present on the court is power, brut force, rebel court savvy, ability to take advantage of my strengths, try and prevent you from getting to my weaknesses.
John, surface by surface, I would have struggled against John on grass. Obviously I think he would have struggled against me on clay. I think we would have had a pretty interesting match-up in a contrast on hard courts, which is where we play most of the time now when we play exhibitions and tournaments, it's on hard. He's given up a lot of years to me. He's given up 12 years. He's in such great shape today, still moves great and works hard at it. He's just an incredible competitor.
Again, I think it's surface by surface, case by case. I think he would have gotten his wins and I would have gotten mine, too.
Q. You mentioned current matches with John. What kind of things do you try to do to take advantage of yours or take away his strengths?
JIM COURIER: With John, if you let him use his feel and his spins, manipulate you around the court, you're in trouble. It's really a battle for baseline control. I like to try and control the center of the court as much as possible. If I can get him moving side to side, I'm typically going to do well on the points.
If John is able to anticipate and get to the net, he's very challenging to pass, very agile. Basically if I'm controlling from the baseline, I'm doing well. If he's attacking, then I'm struggling.
Q. How do you think your game matches up against Pete's at the moment?
JIM COURIER: Pete put a pretty nice beating on me in Carson in our exhibition that we played last summer. Of course, what Pete didn't mention to me before the match - he told me afterwards - is that he switched racquets and string. Pete and I played with the same racquet throughout our careers. Both know how challenging it is to change equipment. Neither of us could during the course of our careers.
When I saw he had switched, of course, the very next week I picked up that racquet and switched to that string. Now I think I'm playing a little bit better. But I'm still concerned, let's put it that way.
Q. Jim, what is your vision to the Outback Series? Is the model sort of the senior golf tour? Would you see this perhaps with Pete there being able to take this to Grand Slams, get the ITF to sanction that?
JIM COURIER: Our model with the Outback Champions Series is to come to places like Dallas, like Boston, Charlotte, other examples of major markets that are not well-served by professional tennis at this point. We feel like what we present is a great opportunity for tennis fans to stay involved with the game, names that they know, people they're familiar with, watch good competitive tennis.
As far as growing this into a situation, I'm not sure of the total number of tournaments that the PGA TOUR Champions has, but we're not looking to take this to 25 or 30 weeks a year. I don't think that the players have the appetite, being one myself, to play that much. We're at six events this year. I could see us easily growing to about eight events within the U.S. I think that would be a nice number. We could go a little bit more than that.
But, again, it really is dictated by the players as much as anything, as to how much they're willing to leave home and play. But we'll see. We are certainly looking for the opportunities. We have very open-arm relationships with all the governing bodies in tennis, including the Grand Slams, and continue to have talks with them. They're very curious as to what we're doing, not surprisingly. They see the name value of what we're bringing to the table and the star power. I'm sure it gets on their radar screen.
We're very ecstatic to go from one tournament in '05 to having six just a couple years later. Rapid growth. We're pleased with that. But there's still room for a little more.
Q. Pete, you'll be in Newport in July to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. You're going to get a chance to practice there before the tournament held in August?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'm not planning on playing -- I'm just playing a charity exhibition the Sunday morning for the Hall of Fame, for the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation. I'm playing Boston for now and playing it by ear on the rest. I don't have plans to go back to Newport.
Q. Jim, your thoughts on Roddick? Going back to the drawing board after a beating like he took?
JIM COURIER: No, I don't think that it's back to the drawing board for Andy at all. I think Andy has made great strides working with Jimmy Connors since Wimbledon. I think his game looks a lot better in a lot of different places. I wouldn't put too much weight on losing to Roger in that match.
Andy didn't play his best tennis. Roger played incredibly well. Andy's made a lot of progress. I see a lot of great things in his game. He's coming to the net more. I think he's positioning himself on the court better. His backhand has improved. He's now hitting a down the line backhand with authority.
Roger puts a beating on a lot of guys. I think I'll echo what Pete said earlier. Those guys, they're going to take their lumps against Roger. But they're going to get their wins in there eventually, too. It would be way too soon for Andy to panic based on one match.
I think Roger said it very well in Australia. He was asked the same question you're asking me. He said, I would just put it to the day form. Basically what he's saying is today is today, and you can't worry about it. I think that's the way that Andy needs to look at it.
Q. Now that you have half the coup in Pete, what is the likelihood of getting Andre to join the tour?
JIM COURIER: I don't know what Pete plans to do. I think Pete gets to Las Vegas a little more than I do.
PETE SAMPRAS: Two kids, not as often as a swinging single like yourself.
JIM COURIER: I would say with Andre, it's a similar conversation that Pete and I had initially, which is -- and I have had conversations with Andre about the Outback Series. The conversations have been his curiosity, just asking more about what I'm doing, how things are going, what it's like, if I enjoy playing. He's certainly aware of that. I've made him aware of what we do. It will be on his timeline. It will be totally up to him as to when/if he decides to come out and play.
Like Pete, he doesn't need to do this to make a living. It's really a question of what he wants to do, not what he has to do. If he wants to come play tennis, we would love to have him. He'd be welcomed with open arms, just like we're welcoming Pete.
Q. What is your take on the state of American junior tennis, the drive these kids have, as opposed to when you were coming up, all kind of personal drive? The drive now seems to be parental or coach driven.
PETE SAMPRAS: I didn't really hear the whole question because I figured Jim was going to answer it.
JIM COURIER: I'll take it first and you can echo up or follow up on it. The question is what's going on with American junior tennis in a nutshell.
I think one thing that the American tennis fan has to understand is that the world has opened up informationally. There are a lot of different countries competing for the same spots. There are only a couple handfuls of countries playing when we grew up. Now you have China, which I think will be becoming a force in tennis, as well as India.
When you talk about the number of people in those countries that will be exposed to tennis, what that will do, I think you'll see major changes there. We've seen it with Russia, the former Soviet bloc. Certainly South America has a strong presence.
While America, we're losing the numbers game as far as how many players we have in the top hundred on both tours, I don't think that should surprise anybody if you just pay attention to how many more people worldwide are playing, and also the popularity of the sport. Tennis is not one of the top three or four sports in this country, and it is in virtually every other country in the world. I think we have to recognize the realities of where we stand in the big scope of things.
Having said that, when I go to Bollettieri's and I look at the players playing there, I see a lot of hungry kids outside these shores who are willing to do anything and everything to make it. I know that that was certainly the case with me.
I've seen Pete work. Not many of you have gotten the chance to see Pete work off the court. Pete put his time in. Nothing comes for free. A lot of players in our generation that spent a lot of time honing their skills to be great players. Unfortunately for us, the reality is there's a lot more competition out there.
Q. Pete, could you give us the definitive answer to the definitive continue question: Will Roger win the French?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think he can partly because he grew up playing on clay. It was probably the first surface he stepped on as a kid. He's come close last few years. I think it's just a matter of time before he breaks through there to win there. You need a little bit of luck, a little bit of playing great at the right time. I really believe he can win there. I think he has the game, has the consistency, the movement to eventually win there.
Q. Jim, from what we saw in Melbourne, do you think people have sorted out Rafa in terms of the game plan which is now more spread around the locker room?
JIM COURIER: I think certainly it's been noted if you can attack Rafa, you can take time away from him, can you get to him on the faster surfaces. He plays so deep into the court.
When you have power like González or James Blake, who have been successful against him, you can get to him early and force him out of position. I think what's happening with Rafa right now is he's just lost a little bit of confidence. He hasn't been in a final since the Wimbledon final, which is a long time for his standard. This is a little bit of a blip for him. I certainly expect for him to pick it back up in the short-term and regain his confidence, be a force at Roland Garros.
Having said that, Roger is clearly the world's No. 2 on clay last year. He was awfully close to the French Open. He put a beat down on Rafa in the first set, then I thought played a tactically poor match. I think it's a matter of time if Roger stays healthy. Not that many other clay-courters that will worry him other than Rafa.
Q. Pete, can you envision a time 10 or 15 years down the road where you might do what Jimmy Connors is doing, pick a top guy to work with, work with that player, whether it's on a part or full-time basis?
PETE SAMPRAS: I wouldn't count on it. You never know. To have an impact on a young guy like Jimmy has on Andy has to be pretty satisfying for Jimmy to take a different role, to see a young guy make some gains like he's made gains in the past year. If it happens for me, I just don't know. It does require traveling, which is something I'm not crazy about, especially internationally.
You can't predict into the future that far down the road. I never thought I'd ever play senior tennis. I'm sitting here going to play some this year. You never know. I wouldn't count on that one. I'm never going to say never.
Q. SI is collecting as many people as we can from all walks of life to pick the Super Bowl. Can you pick a winner, score, and a quick reason why.
PETE SAMPRAS: I like Indianapolis. I think Peyton Manning, this is his time to shine. I think the Colts are going to have a huge offensive game and win 35-10.
JIM COURIER: That's a big number.
PETE SAMPRAS: I think their offense is going to click right at the right time here.
JIM COURIER: I haven't seen a lot of football, having been in Australia for two and a half weeks. My gut would be with the Colts as well. I think Chicago is Chicago because they're a cold weather team, not great for them to be playing outdoors in the Super, compared to Indianapolis, which plays indoors. I think nerves will keep the score low. I'm going to go with 24-17.
Q. Pete, you're only scheduled to play in the tournament in Boston. What is it that you need to see, feel, experience to say to yourself that you can do more tournaments?
PETE SAMPRAS: Just to see if I enjoy it. Going out and competing against the guys, just the week, just to see how I feel practicing, being out there, interacting with the people. What I've heard in talking to John and Jim is that it's a fun week, it's a competitive week. We all want to do well and win.
I'll know pretty quickly if it's something that is going to work for me. I think it is. I'll know more once I get into Boston, step out there and compete.
But it's also a time to give back to the sport, through sponsorship, doing more corporate outings, clinics, whatever it may be. That's kind of an adjustment for me but something I'm prepared to do. I'll have a better feel when I get there. My intuition is that it's going to be pleasant and positive.
Q. Your former coach's new role at the Lawn Tennis Association. Paul has a very high profile job. What do you think of it when you heard of it and what kind of qualities do you think he'll bring to trying to discover what kind of talent we might have in Britain?
PETE SAMPRAS: I think Paul - I'm obviously very biased - I think he is incredibly smart as far as when it comes to coaching, seeing talent. He's seen the highest level of tennis, and now has obviously taken a different role in coaching some younger guys. I think he's a great find.
Unfortunately the USTA let him go. I think it would have been best served for the USTA to hire him, keep his expertise in our country. It's pretty amazing the LTA is spending the money they are, even on Brad Gilbert, paying him a pretty humpty sum. With Paul, it's a big effort for the LTA to try to find that Wimbledon champion.
I think Paul comes with a lot of credentials. He's very well-spoken. He knows the game in and out. He was a top 15 player. He can deal with the politics of whatever his job might entail. But I think he really enjoys the tennis and being out there with the young guys.
He's still working with Henman a little bit. I think them two as a team can help the youngsters in London do some great things. I think it was a great find for the LTA and a great hire to get both Brad and Paul. Both of those guys worked with some great players. I think it's just a matter of time, with Murray kind of leading the charge, to get a couple younger guys from England to do some great things.
Q. Murray and Nadal was the pick of the Australian Open this year, very talented, lead the charge against Roger. What do you think he could possibly achieve in the next two or three years? Have you seen enough to think he might be able to do something really special in the game?
PETE SAMPRAS: I do. I haven't seen him play a lot, but I've seen him play enough to know how he plays. Seems like he has a very big first serve, and he backs it up with some good groundstrokes. He's tall, lanky, but seems like he covers a lot of court.
I think he's just going to get better and better. I think he's only 19. I just think he's going to get a little stronger physically, get in better shape, he'll believe in himself more. I think he could -- in the next two to three years, he could push Roger a little bit more. I believe he beat him that one time in Cincinnati. I think he's on his way up.
I like his temperament out there. I like the way he plays. I just think he'll get a little stronger physically as he gets a little older, work on his conditioning. He can do a lot of great things.
Q. Assuming your attacking game is a natural antidote for Federer, do you see that style making a slight return, or is it extinct? And Serena, like you, she went through the two-year title drought, people criticized her, said she was done, wins a major. I'm not comparing her to you, but based on your experience, do you think she can sustain this, or is she a going to be a part-time player who wins an occasional major?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't know the ladies game that well, or Serena that well. What I have heard and seen, got herself back in shape, moving a little better. I think it's not a matter of her talent, it's just a matter of her heart, to really focus on tennis. I know she gets involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. To be a top-ranked player, as Jim will tell you, you really need to be pretty focused on it. It's tough to have your cake and eat it.
I think she will gain confidence from Australia. I'm sure the sport is fun for her again when you win a major. She can sustain it as long as she wants to. Depends on her heart. If she wants to be the best player in the world, she can certainly do that. It's just working hard and focusing.
Q. Serve and volley, seems like a natural way to go at Federer. Nobody beats him from the baseline. Do you think that form is done for now?
PETE SAMPRAS: I do. I think it's extinct. I see a lot of big servers that aren't really looking to come in. You look at Wimbledon the last few years. Even Federer to some extent isn't looking to come in. Everyone is staying back, hitting big groundstrokes.
A lot of it is technology. These young guys are growing up with big racquets and strings. They don't really learn how to hit a proper volley. I learned with a wood racquet, so I had to have the right technique.
Guys are hitting big, a lot of spin, a lot of control. Serve-and-volley tennis, sadly, in my opinion, it's not -- you don't see anyone attacking Roger or anyone. He's dictating what he wants from the back court. That's always the best contrast, I felt, having a serve-and-volley player, playing against a baseliner. It's a good clash. I don't see it changing. I don't see any really serve and volleyers coming up. It's extinct. It's sad to see.
Q. Jim, any discussions or idea maybe doing a combined event with the European senior circuit, two tours combined?
JIM COURIER: We have a terrific relationship with them. I've played in those events over the years over there, as well. I think we're complementary. They're doing their thing, doing it well in Europe. That seems to be going nicely for them. We've got our six events in the States.
I don't see any competitive aspect to that. Our sponsors are our sponsors, and theirs are theirs. There's no crossover at this stage. Whether we can work together in the future to make something bigger and stronger and more salient for everybody, we're open to that. We've had discussions with them. We'll continue to do so.
The way that I look at tennis, I'm trying to look at it a little bit differently than what I've noticed historically here. I think tennis, we're competing against other forms of entertainment. We're competing against other sports. We're competing against video games. We're competing against movies. All other areas where people can drop their discretionary spending.
But tennis competes far too much internally. We don't want to be people that are doing that. We want to help grow the sport in general and I think everyone will benefit. It's somewhat broad and a naive statement, but that's the way we're approaching it right now.
RANDY WALKER: I want to thank everyone for joining us today, especially Pete and Jim. The 2007 Outback Champions Series starts on March 7th in Naples, Florida. Pete will be making his Outback Champions debut in Boston May 2nd through the 6th. We hope to see you all at events down the road. Thank you and have a great day.
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