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June 27, 2007

Zina Garrison

CHRIS WIDMAIER: I'd like to thank everyone for joining us this afternoon. For those of you calling in from Wimbledon, good evening. We appreciate you calling in.
This media conference call is regarding the U.S. Fed Cup semifinal versus Russia. As you know, the semifinal will take place July 14th and 15th in Stowe, Vermont.
We've experienced a tremendous response from the Stowe community, throughout Vermont and New England. We thank the entire Stowe community for that response. The event is sold out. It's sold out in near record time. We are expecting a very loud, enthusiastic and patriotic crowd.
We've upped the capacity to more than 4,000. As I said, it is a sell-out. It's great news for tennis and great news for the USTA, certainly great news for our Fed Cup squad.
That's why we're here today. I'm pleased to have Zina Garrison, our Fed Cup captain. I know she's happy because this will be the first time in her captaincy that she will have back-to-back home ties. I know that has her smiling right now.
Without further ado, I'd like to turn it over to Zina who will make the official announcement for the Fed Cup team that will be competing against Russia.
Yes, I am very, very excited to be actually playing at home for -- actually, it's my third time, but the second time in a row this year. We're really looking forward to it.
The team will actually be Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lisa Raymond and Vania King. Actually, the same team we took to Delray. Each player is very excited to be going to Stowe, Vermont. Each one talked about how beautiful it is, and they were so excited to know it was a sell-out crowd. I think they were more excited about that than anything, to know people were really looking forward to coming and cheering them on playing against Russia.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: We'll open it up to questions at this point.

Q. It seems like Serena's will and determination to win accounts for such a big part of her success, almost more than that of other player's. I'm wondering if you agree with that. If so, could you describe the force of Serena's will those moments where she's backed up in a corner in a match, kind of takes control of things.
CAPTAIN GARRISON: I think first and foremost that is Serena and that's what makes her truly a champion - I mean a great champion, not just a champion - is the fact that she's able to pull from inner strength that not many people are able to pull from.
It seems like the farther, farther down you think you have her, the more she pulls that will to actually bring herself up.
I've known her since she was about seven. That was one of the very first things I kind of picked up on her, is that she had this serious determination to be the best.

Q. Once a player has success, wealth, how hard is it, or does it become harder to summons that do-anything-it-takes-to-win will?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: I think it doesn't necessarily mean that will is something that goes away when you start accumulating all the accolades for that. I think the minute you step on the court, it's there, and you're able to pull.
Her and Venus have been unlucky with a lot of injuries, a lot of other things that have happened in their life that have pretty much kind of taken them away. But when they're on the court, they give 110% each time. That's all you can ask from an athlete.

Q. Can you talk about, were they on board automatically? Did you have to get any of them to agree? Also, who are the Russians you think they're going to bring?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Actually, believe it or not, they have been on board since Delray. Each one of them have definitely expressed some interest that they want to bring the Cup back, that it's been too long.
They knew this year is a great year to actually go for it if everybody's healthy. That's always pretty much been the biggest concern.
Like I said before, Venus in I think like October, November, she told me she wanted to play. Serena told me in December. When I called Lisa, she was just ecstatic about playing, wanting to once again bring the Cup back.
I think Vania, for her, it's been great to be around all these true champions.

Q. Obviously Venus and Serena are still in, a couple of guys, but the Americans are not faring as well at Wimbledon as they have in the past. Talk a little bit about where the American tennis scene is at in your eyes.
CAPTAIN GARRISON: I actually think the USTA is doing a great job of trying to make sure that they restructure so that we will get some new champions coming along. I think probably our next generation, from what I've seen, those 14-, 15-, 13-, 12-, 11- and 10-year-olds, we have an enormous group coming up.
Hopefully we can just get them in the right structure. We can just keep them going. There's probably the best talent I've seen in a while in kind of that latter group of kids that are coming up.

Q. Did you consider at all naming Meilen to the team? She made it clear at the French Open that she thought she deserved consideration.
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Yeah, I thought about it. It's no slight against her. It's just that this team right now pretty much kind of gelled in Delray. That's pretty much why Venus and Serena and Lisa, and actually Vania I held off on for quite a while. I just felt right now that because of the way that the team gelled in Delray, I really wouldn't shake it up.

Q. I was wondering about the roster, if it's final, if you're going to make changes, and when would make those changes?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Hopefully we won't have any changes. The only change I would have to make is if somebody got hurt. I hope that does not happen. I've been doing this long enough to know that anything is possible. Anything can possibly happen.
I just kind of keep my eyes open for the next possible person we might possibly have to put in. I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed I won't have to make any changes.

Q. What would that timetable be? Would it be immediate or would you wait to see how the injury went?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Oh, no, pretty much if someone gets injured, you have to kind of go with -- move on to the next. With Wimbledon being so close, it's not like it's going to get better overnight.

Q. Have you made a site visit to Stowe, seen the facility? What were your thoughts on it upon first inspection?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Actually, I have not yet. I do have it in my plans probably like next week, the beginning of next week. The only reason why I haven't is because I've been kind of waiting to make sure the court is ready so I can actually test the court as well.

Q. Were you happy when you heard the news they were going to expand the stadium for a larger seating?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Well, actually it's kind of cute because Jeff Ryan with the USTA called me. He's like, Are you sitting down? I'm like, Yeah. He's like, Can you believe you have a sell-out crowd, we have to expand? I was like, What?
I was really excited. It was just great. I've heard that Vermont -- I've been to Stratton before, but I've never been to Stowe. I know how beautiful it is, but I've heard this place is really beautiful.
I am actually a Spa fanatic, so I knew it was one of the great Spas up there and everything.

Q. Belgium was perhaps a little easier than Russia is going to be. What challenges do you foresee playing against a team that has so much depth?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: I think that is the challenge, is they have so much depth. We have to go in, we have to be on the top of our game because it doesn't matter. They're so strong for whoever might play.
I have yet to find out who they're -- who's possibly gonna play. I don't know if you guys know. But I heard Sharapova is probably going to be out, but I'm not for sure about that. I'm just kind of waiting to hear whatever their lineup is. It really doesn't matter.
The thing that matters is making sure my girls are ready, that we go out there and that we play the match the best that we can play.

Q. I drove by the site the other day. I was concerned because nothing has happened yet. The big USTA truck is there, but there's still just grass and woods out there. Are they concerned at all about the timetable of getting this thing built?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: According to what I heard, Jeff wasn't concerned. If he's not concerned, I'm not concerned. I will get off the phone and ask again, but...

Q. What kind of surface?
CAPTAIN GARRISON: It's actually hard court. I spoke to the guy like a couple weeks ago. I knew they were ready to go, to put down, do an overlay or something according to the speed I asked for.

Q. There used to be a stadium there when they had the Head Classic years ago. Mostly bleacher seats. Went up like an erector set.

Q. Erector set, pieces that stick together, go up in short order. They weren't the most comfortable things in the world, sitting on football bleachers. This setup will probably be different, more modern, I hope.
CAPTAIN GARRISON: Yeah, I actually don't know that. I'm actually more concerned about the court speed, the surface. But I will check it out. Thanks for the update.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: In response to that question, as well, the construction timetable is going forward this week. There will not be any concerns about building the stadium in a timely fashion.
We are on schedule, and we're looking forward to building a very cool facility. With a sold-out crowd, it will be fantastic.
I would like to thank all the media for joining us, especially the folks calling in from Wimbledon. We appreciate that greatly.
Thanks, Zina, for your time today.

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