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February 17, 2010

John Isner

Patrick McEnroe

Sam Querrey

TIM CURRY: Thank you, everyone, for joining us for this conference call to announce the Davis Cup team that will be playing in the 2010 first round at Serbia March 5 through 7. In a moment we'll have Patrick McEnroe and John Isner and Sam Querrey available. That's your tease.
For the first time since 2000 the U.S. Davis Cup team will have neither Andy Roddick nor James Blake on the roster. The team will be John, Sam and Bob and Mike Bryan. John will be making his debut. He will be the 136th player to represent the U.S. in Davis Cup, and he will also be the tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history at 6'9".
Sam is making his second appearance on the team, having debuted against world No. 1 at the time Rafael Nadal on clay in Madrid at the 2008 semifinals.
It's also a good time for both gentlemen; John was just named the ATP most-improved player for last year as voted upon by his peers on the APT World Tour. He's first American to win it since Andre Agassi in 1998; and Sam is coming off his first ATP World Tour doubles title last Sunday with another U.S. Davis Cupper, Mardy Fish.
That being said, we will open the lines for questions for Patrick, John and Sam.

Q. Question for Patrick. Just talk about the decision making in selecting the team, and then also just talk about maybe whether or not we can read this as sort of a changing of the guard, a signal that you're going to start to work with some younger players. Obviously I know Roddick and James have decided not to play this year, but maybe that's a decision that you would have made anyway. Maybe you could comment on that.
PATRICK McENROE: Well, let me just say that I'm extremely excited about seeing John and Sam play together. Obviously Sam has played once before, but he came in as sort of a last-minute substitute there. So it's really in my mind in a lot of ways the first time for these two guys as our two main guys.
You know, obviously we've had a tremendous run with both Andy and James, and they've been absolute stalwarts for almost ten years. This is now my tenth year as the captain. So I'm really feeling reenergized to see these new guys come out there. And obviously we've got a very tough opening round, but I think it's a great opportunity for both of them. You know, I've been really impressed with the way they've both worked so hard and improved so much in the last 12, 18 months.
So you know, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's a total changing of the guard because obviously we've still got the Bryan brothers and they've been there and hopefully will be there for many more years. Certainly the door is never shut on the other guys for coming back at some point, and I think Andy has already expressed that he may not be playing this time, this year, but it doesn't mean that he's never going to play Davis Cup again.
But at the same time these two guys have earned their spots, and I'm very excited to see how they perform in what will be a very tough environment for John's first match and for Sam's second match.

Q. This is for Sam. Can you talk about what it feels like to kind of be the leader now of the U.S. Davis Cup team? Is that pressure? Is it fun? Just what's it like?
SAM QUERREY: I wouldn't call myself the leader here. I mean, Patrick is our captain and Bob and Mike are on the team, and they've played I don't know how many times but probably 20 times at least, so I think they're going to definitely be kind of the leaders and the veterans out there.
And Andy and James are still very much a part of the team. You know, I'm sure they're going to be calling us and texting us and wishing us luck and giving us advice. Even though they're not there in Serbia, they're still kind of a part of the team, and I still feel like I'm a newcomer here and I'm still kind of learning my way. I'm just thrilled to be on the team for my second time.

Q. And how is your arm feeling from the injury? Is everything healed as far as that slashing thing?
SAM QUERREY: My arm is fine now. It's back to 100 percent, and it's doing good, and there's nothing wrong with it at all.

Q. Have you ever been in Serbia before?
SAM QUERREY: Yeah, I played a tour event in Serbia last year in April, so this will be my second time back. I've actually seen the arena that we're going to be playing in, and it looks pretty big from the outside. I'm not sure how many people fit in there, but I'm sure it's going to be noisy and loud.

Q. My question is for Patrick. I hope you don't mind a fairly local one. Have you figured out who the practice partners will be, and by any chance is one from the tennis center here at College Park?
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, actually Dennis Kudla will be one of our practice partners, and the other one will be Jack Sock.

Q. Can you just say a word about each?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, they're both obviously two of our young up-and-comers, and we're always excited to have the youngsters come along. Sam has been there a few times. In fact, I remember when John came as a, quote-unquote, practice player, although he already was a little more established already, I think it was the first trip he ever took out of the country to play tennis when we went to the semifinals in Sweden.
I think Sam made a great point. These guys have kind of been part of the team in their own way even for the last couple years, and I think Andy and James will still be that way, and that's really one of the things that I'm most proud about with this group of guys is that they really support each other and pull for each other, and that's nice to have.
But at the end of the day, I think it's a real big moment for our team to see -- no pun intended, it's the big moment obviously with our two big boys coming to play. But I'm excited to see how they perform, and as I said, they're playing great tennis, and they've both worked extremely hard with their fitness, and that's obviously a huge part of being able to play Davis Cup because it's two best-of-five-set matches in two days. So that's great, and Dennis Kudla and Jack Sock will get a great experience, and hopefully we'll see them in four or five years.

Q. Patrick, I'm wondering now with the Bryans, the leaders on the team, how they're embracing that role as leaders after possibly being overshadowed a little bit by Andy and James.
PATRICK McENROE: Well, it's hard to say that the Bryans could ever be overshadowed because they've done so much for Davis Cup and so much for doubles and so much for tennis in this country. I think they're going to be great. They're the ultimate team players. They're the ultimate support for their teammates.
Let's be honest, though, there's still four singles matches and one doubles match. So their role is extremely important, but for John and Sam, I mean, they're really carrying the load when it comes to the points that we need to win the tie. Obviously winning the doubles has always been very important for us. To win the doubles, we have a much better chance. These guys have played against each other quite a bit in doubles and played a lot of exhibitions with each other, so we all know each other well, and so in that sense I think it won't be that big a transition because the guys know each other so well and support each other.
And even if say Sam and John are playing doubles, we could have some practice double matches, as well, because they're playing awfully good doubles, as well.

Q. Have you given any thought to who might play one singles or two? Does that really not matter so much right now?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, that's out of my control. That's simply done by the rankings. It goes strictly by the ATP rankings. Both the guys I'm happy to say are moving up pretty quickly. It will really just be where they are that week of Davis Cup to determine who plays one or two. That's not a captain's decision.

Q. This is for John. I guess it wasn't really a shock here lately that you'd be named to the team. Could you describe some of the emotions that went through when you found out for sure that you'd be on the Davis Cup squad?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I was absolutely elated to be selected. It's a great honor. There were some rumors flowing that Andy and James might take this year off, and then I knew I had probably as good a chance as anybody to get one of those singles spots. I think with doing so well in Australia, that also helped my chances, which is something that I've been looking forward to ever since I've been playing pro tennis. I was a practice partner twice for one away tie, and the other one was the championship match in Portland, Oregon.
Seeing the way the guys, the Bryans, James and Andy, seeing the way they compete and the crowd gets into it, it's something you want to be a part of. So now that I am, I'm extremely excited, and hopefully I can go over there and play my best and give the U.S. a chance to advance.

Q. My question is actually for Sam. Since this is your second time playing for the Davis Cup team, what advice would you give John Isner?
SAM QUERREY: I mean, the advice that I'd give John? That's a tricky one. But I'd definitely say work as hard as you can because Davis Cup you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for your team, you're playing for your captain, you're playing for your peers and your country, so you owe it to everyone to go out there and really give it your all and really do everything you can in the practice week leading up to the match and also in the practice weeks before that week. So I definitely think that's going to be key.
And the other part is to just have fun and enjoy yourself on the court because it is an honor to play for the Davis Cup team.

Q. Sam and John, will you be bringing groups with you, any support groups?
SAM QUERREY: I'm not. My dad is going to come over and watch the tie, but that's it. At every Davis Cup match, the USTA, there's a team of 20 to 25 people that's over there, so there is a nice little support group there with us.

Q. I want to ask Patrick, what do you anticipate from the conditions in Serbia, and more specifically the atmosphere of that raucous almost 20,000 strong crowd?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I anticipate it's going to be extremely challenging, and it's going to be -- the guys are going to have to put their blinders on and they're going to have to focus on what's going on between the lines. You know, the one thing I have in my ten years of experience is plenty of experience in very tough situations overseas, and that's part of the fun of Davis Cup, as Sam said. You've got to kind of play with a smile on your face, you've got to expect that people are going to cheer when you miss a serve or question a call. If you do that, they're going to get on you.
Part of my job is to try to help the guys out as much as I can, so I'm there to try to help them and help them manage the situation and just focus on playing tennis. Obviously it can be tough. I mean, it's a great challenge to go over there. They've got a great team in Serbia. With obviously Djokovic just coming on the way he has the last few years, tennis is extremely popular. I would expect 20,000 to 25,000 people there. That's going to be awesome for the guys to play in front of that environment.
But Sam has done it before in Spain, playing against Nadal on clay, and John has so much experience playing in college tennis, which I think will really serve him well because he's used to that kind of atmosphere. Obviously not this many people, but you play down there in Athens with the crowd going crazy or one of those other SEC teams, they get pretty into it. So I think John will really be able to handle that well.
Again, it all comes down to how well they play on the court, and we'll do everything we can to help them get as prepared as they can to play their best tennis.

Q. This question is for Sam. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Dennis and Jack. I believe it's both their first times being practice partners, and what you took from that, and how you'll kind of guide them through the experience.
SAM QUERREY: I mean, Dennis and Jack, I've known Dennis for a couple years, and I've hit with him probably 50 times, and he's a great kid, great player, and I definitely think he's going to have a blast over there. And Jack, I've only hit with Jack one time, but I've followed along with his results, and he's playing well, and he seems to be one of the best -- I think they're both 17, and they seem to be like the two best 17-year-olds in America. I think they're going to have great careers.
And Davis Cup is a great week. The first week I did it was I think three years ago or four years ago when we played Belgium away. It was my first time meeting Andy and James, and it was just fun to see -- watch those guys practice and just to practice with them and see what they do and how intense they are and how hard they work, to take everything that I learned from that week and apply it to my game. I think John and I will try to show them that when we're there this week or next week.
I think it's just a great experience for them because hopefully one day those two will be on the team, and they're not just going to go into Davis Cup for their first time and be surprised. Hopefully -- well, they're obviously going to be the practice partners but hopefully they can do it a couple more times and really get the vibe and get the feeling of what it's like to play Davis Cup matches, especially away like we are in Serbia.

Q. Patrick, could you tell us about the surface that this will be played on and how that either plays to your team's strengths or poses a challenge to their strengths?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, it's going to be an indoor clay court, and I think obviously they're looking to take advantage of what they do well. But I believe that Djokovic has proved he can play on every surface. But obviously they know coming in, whether it was these two guys or Roddick if he were going to play, that clay is challenging for us.
But at the same time I'm pretty confident in both Sam's and John's ability to play well on clay. They're both big and tall. They both hit the ball really well off the ground, particularly off the forehand. They serve huge, and indoors that usually helps the server even on a clay court. We feel pretty good about our chances.
Again, not too many countries are going to pick a hard court to play against the U.S.; that just doesn't happen. We're used to getting our clay court shoes when we go on the road, and it's another great opportunity for us to play in that environment and to play on a more challenging surface for us.
TIM CURRY: Thanks, everyone, again for joining our call.

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