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March 13, 2003

Brian Vahaly


MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Just another win.

BRIAN VAHALY: Just another win. Yeah, right. Yeah, I played well. I mean, I was happy, got a lot of advice going into the match. Had spoken with Andy Roddick a little bit. We went to dinner last night. He gave me some tips. I talked to my main coach back at home, Scott McCain. So many people involved have given me some ideas and helped me to concentrate. I felt like for me personally all I wanted to think about was my win over Ferrero and leave the tournament on that. Came out to a very quick lead, have to deal with some of his adjustments. Yeah, it's not another win. I would have been happy with a win over Robredo, that would have been my best win of my life coming into this tournament. How can I just call it another win?

Q. Serving for the match, did you get tight or lost your focus?

BRIAN VAHALY: You know, I really didn't get that tight. Yesterday I was. Yesterday was really -- that was really more when I guess I would say I was tight. Today I think I lost my focus. I was a little bit tired mentally, and physically yesterday took a lot out of me, before the match, during and after. I just wasn't as mentally strong as I would have liked today at certain times. I felt like I got it back together. He was a little bit tired, which was fortunate. He called the trainer, I'm not really sure for what. You know, in the end it worked.

Q. Specifically what were the recommendations Andy gave you?

BRIAN VAHALY: I don't know if I want to give away my tips. They clearly worked. Andy is undefeated against him. I spent a lot of time with him. We hung out all day yesterday. He came out to watch me play today, which again I think the world of him as a person that he would come and watch me play when he has a big match himself tonight. Just gave me some tips to think about, you know, in crunch situations what his tendencies are on big points. Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I don't know these guys. I've never really been to a Masters Series tournament. I don't know what these people do. It helps to have a guy that has that experience.

Q. After the match you sort of shook your head, then you laughed. What was going through your head?

BRIAN VAHALY: It's hard not to find this week comical to me. Just so much has changed from just being in the qualifying. You know, I was down 4-1 in the second set of the first qualifying match I played, kind of wondering why I even came. Then these things keep happening. It happened so quickly. I hadn't even gotten over yesterday's match. I had written numerous e-mails, returned around 40, 45 phone calls, and all of a sudden this happens again, and here I am in the same spot I was 24 hours ago. It's like the best day keeps happening over and over and over. It just gets to be funny.

Q. You could play Rochus next round. Would that be too ironic?

BRIAN VAHALY: You know, I think it speaks how hard my draw has been. The fact that I had to play him in the qualifying, go through him, to even get to this point, and he's playing well enough now where he could be in the quarterfinals himself. You know, I welcome the challenge again. I'd love to play Spadea also. I played him in the Round of 16 in Adelaide earlier this year. Both good players. But this is completely different circumstance. For me it's completely different. There's pressure, there's nerves. There's so much more on the line. I can look back to some of those matches, know that those guys are going to make adjustments. I really don't care who I play. I'm in the quarterfinals of a Tennis Masters Series, I don't care.

Q. It's often said it's a real advantage for the Spaniards to hang out together. Used to be that way with the Swedes. For a while Americans weren't supportive of each other. Now you're talking about the support. Is it an advantage to be an American now with many tournaments here, our competitive culture?

BRIAN VAHALY: Yeah, I think it's huge to have a lot of tournaments here. I mean, that helps. The crowd was unbelievable for me. They have been all week. I seem to have these people that continue to follow me from match to match. Having guys out there, Todd Martin came to my first round match, Robby Ginepri and I have been together since I was eight, having Andy around, Jan-Michael calls me. Is it an advantage? I'd like to think so. We get along so well. Obviously, we care about each other enough that we're willing to sacrifice a little bit of ourselves for the well-being of American tennis. You know a lot -- when I was growing up, as I am still growing up, so much heat was given to what was going to be the next wave of American tennis. We continue to take a lot of heat for that. Andy and James really have stepped up. They want some more people coming up there with them. Yeah, it means a lot. I love it. I love that we all get along. I want to go watch Robby play now.

Q. Do your results this week tell you maybe your tennis is better than you thought it was coming in here?

BRIAN VAHALY: Yeah. I don't think I necessarily struggled with confidence. I felt like it was there. I felt like it was going to be there in due time. Everybody says give yourself three, four years. Tried to put myself on the James Blake line. Gave him a couple years to get out there, then he really starts to hit his stride. I didn't really feel I was ready to hit that stride at this point. The way I've been playing the last couple weeks, I don't know. Your coaches tell you one thing, but sometimes you feel like they're just trying to blow smoke. I guess they were right. I don't know. I've been able to relax on courts that I love. Yeah, I mean, I am surprised personally.

Q. You've got your purse level up now to about 50,000. How does that compare to what you've made in Memphis?

BRIAN VAHALY: I think Memphis was around 34.

Q. So this is your highest?

BRIAN VAHALY: Yeah. My career earnings were like 170 probably coming into this, and that's a year and a half. That's a pretty good percentage there. Yeah, it feels pretty good. I'm still living at home, don't have a car. Maybe I can make some changes. But, no, I'm not a big spender. It's nice. I don't know, yeah. I'm not money driven. But I love the game, I love to play tennis. It helps.

Q. Might you buy a car if you win?

BRIAN VAHALY: Might I buy a car? If I win the tournament? Oh, heck, yeah. I'll buy two. I'll buy you one (laughter). I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I majored in finance. All my professors e-mailed me, lecturing me last night about saving money. Ultimately I'm sure I'll be as conservative and boring as I always am. But I'd like to think someday.

Q. You earned about 170 in a year and a half. Let's get financial here. What do you think your expenses were traveling the world?

BRIAN VAHALY: Expenses are a lot. I'll tell you that much. Especially at the beginning when you're going to these futures tournaments. If you win the tournament, you're going to get maybe $1200, which is huge. I remember when playing for $80 made me enough to get nervous, choke, lose matches.

Q. Where was that?

BRIAN VAHALY: God, my first point I got in Canada back when I was ranked 1500.

Q. Canada is big. Where?

BRIAN VAHALY: Montreal. There was a futures there. I finally qualified for a future. Couldn't get out of the qualifying for futures for a while. Finally got out. Yeah, finally got my first check of I think $100, which was big. Yeah, I mean, I remember the days, you're playing for $30, $40. My friends out on tour, my doubles partner from college, used to compare money with Wendy's Frosties. If we get this, we can buy 20 Frosties. It's completely embarrassing, but that's where you are. You're struggling for money, struggling for expenses. An amazing guy, Allen Samuels, had enough faith in me. I didn't have enough money to travel. He said I believe in you, I believe in your success, believed in me as a person. I know he's been following all my matches on line. Gave me a good chunk of change to really try and make this happen. He did that in March of last year. It's been a year now. I owe him everything.

Q. Who is he?

BRIAN VAHALY: He's a car dealer in Waco, Texas. He owns about eight or nine car dealerships. A guy on the Virginia tennis team also had some belief in me set me up with a meeting with him last year. I skipped a tournament and decided to go down and meet with him. Just had a really nice conversation. Yeah, we kind of started from there.

Q. Has he funded other players?

BRIAN VAHALY: No. He's funded a bass fisherman. I think he's going to come tomorrow. He's been to some Davis Cup matches. Loves tennis. Heck of a guy. It's going to mean a lot to me to see him over there, from being in his office begging, promising I can do it, being shut down from so many peel people. He was finally the one that gave me the go ahead.

Q. How long did he agree to fund you?

BRIAN VAHALY: For a couple years.

Q. To the tune of?

BRIAN VAHALY: I'd rather not say. But a lot.

Q. So if you end up buying a car, you might actually go to him for it?

BRIAN VAHALY: Yes, I've already gone to him. I want discounts. He knows a bunch of different dealers.

Q. Has he ever sponsored any tennis tournaments?

BRIAN VAHALY: No. But you can ask. I'll give you his number.

Q. How difficult is it to sell yourself, to go into somebody's office?

BRIAN VAHALY: It's miserable. I like to try and pride myself on being humble. You hate to walk into a situation, talk about your results, "This is how good I am, how good I'm going to be." I don't like to be around those kind of people who like to talk about themselves. It was hard. I tried to give him a better feel for what I was like as a person, give him my results going into the meeting. I wanted to talk to him about me as a person, my work ethic, my desire to try to help him the best I can, whether it would be coming back to Waco, do some exhibitions. Just hoped that he liked me as a person. I hate the whole selling yourself thing. I hate the whole agent thing. I hate -- tennis has changed since you start playing for money, I tell you that much. I loved it when it was a game. I still love it now. But you let other people handle that.

Q. He's a UVA grad? Is that the connection?

BRIAN VAHALY: No. He's friends with a UVA grad, yeah.

Q. Do you have a lot of new best friends now?

BRIAN VAHALY: Yeah, you know, a lot of people come out of the woodwork. I'm going to be real honest. Some people I haven't talked to in a few years. Friends from school. I mean, the nice ones are old fraternity brothers that send e-mails. Some are going to want to fly down to see me in Miami now. They just think I'm the greatest thing, which is really funny. Yeah, I mean, you know it happens. It doesn't bother me because how great it is that these people are willing to support me? They're watching me online at work. I know of probably a couple hundred people I knew were going to be watching the computer today. That's nice. It's nice to know people are thinking about you on the court. You don't feel like you're going through it all alone. It's you, you look over to your coach, I have my girlfriend, one of my closest girlfriends that are here. It's nice when you just feel like everybody is rooting for you. How awesome is it to pick up your phone when it's all done and have you 40 messages? I feel lucky.

Q. Does your girlfriend go to most of your matches?

BRIAN VAHALY: The nice thing a lot of tournaments are in California. She came to San Jose when I lost to Todd Martin. She was in a challenger win in Aptos. Was there when I beat Michael Chang, my first breakthrough in Tarzana, a challenger there. I want her to come as much as she can. She's an actress and she's busy. It doesn't always work out the best. But we try and make time. She came down to Australia, which was huge. I love that country and I was so excited for her to see it. It's tough. They tell you it's tough to have a girlfriend and be any kind of professional athlete. I would tend to agree.

Q. You've known her since?

BRIAN VAHALY: Seventh grade.

Q. How long have you lived in Atlanta?

BRIAN VAHALY: Since I was four.

Q. Why did you choose UVA over Georgia? Richer tennis tradition.

BRIAN VAHALY: Georgia was too close to home. I was always been a little bit independent. I try not to worry too much about what other people think. I walked on the UVA campus and thought it was the greatest place I'd ever seen. I'll never forget the first day I was there. They had a great business school, which is what I knew I wanted to major in. I wanted to play right away at a school. I wanted to start something. I didn't want to be a number. I didn't want to look back and be another great player from Stanford or Georgia. I wanted to do my own thing. I knew the people would doubt me. All the more fun when you win. You get to walk around, look them in the eye, smile, know that you were right.

Q. You said you don't like this agent thing. What did you mean by that?

BRIAN VAHALY: The question was earlier about having to sell yourself, meeting with some of these companies, trying to tell them how great you are. I don't know. That's not who I want to be when I grow up. I don't want to talk about my glory days in 20 years, feel like in order to prove myself to people I have to talk about my results. I'd like to think there's more to me than just tennis.

Q. When you won today, you realized you were in the quarterfinals, did you have to pinch yourself?

BRIAN VAHALY: Honestly, I don't think it's really set in yet. It just kind of keeps going. At the time, like I said, it was just funny. I don't know. You've got to find me in a couple hours and then I'll probably give you some reactions about how I really feel. Keep feeling like you're going to wake up at some point.

Q. Do you think any of the players you played in college will take from this that they have a chance to come out of University, too?

BRIAN VAHALY: You know, I hope so. One of the things I did love, I probably got close to 20, 25 e-mails from people in college, playing tennis, some not necessarily aspiring to play professionally. They are taking a lot of pride in what I've done, what I've accomplished this week. It's so exciting. I mean, I got e-mails from the guys on the Virginia tennis team. I do everything I can for that program. I hope it can happen. I think there's a lot of great players out there. I think just because you're not ready at 18 doesn't mean you can't be where I'm sitting a couple years later. I think it's ridiculous that people continue to put these, you know, make these assumptions that if you go to college, you're throwing away all this time and experience. I don't know, all that stuff helped. Academically, socially I grew up a lot being a part of a fraternity, being involved in my church. You grow up so much in college. Now I feel a little bit more ready, a little bit more mature to handle these situations that you're put in out here when you're playing.

End of FastScripts….

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