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August 30, 1999

Mashiska Washington

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

USTA: Questions, please.

Q. How did you play?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I thought I played very well. But any time you don't win, you always think you can do better. I'm somewhat pleased. I had my opportunities in the third and fourth set where I had set points in each one, but just wasn't able to close it out.

Q. Third and fourth?


Q. The first set you seemed kind of rough around the edges. Second set you seemed to kind of click. What was the difference for you?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I don't know. Sometimes you start off that way. I took the second set maybe 6-2. He took the first 6-1. You can probably ask him what happened to him in the second set. Sometimes you can start off hot. Sometimes you need a few games to get going. Things started going very well after the second set.

Q. Did you change your game at all?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Not really. I didn't come out to change my game, but just do what I do best, which is hang in there, run down a lot of balls, try to open up the court and maybe come in a little bit. But I just wanted to stick to what I know how to do. It worked for the most part. He was able to tough it out in the very end.

Q. Do you feel you justified your wildcard here?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Definitely. I think as an American, I think all Americans should have the opportunity to play America's tournament. I don't think you can look at any player who has ever played the Grand Slams who has not lost at least one time in the first rounds. I've seen Sampras lose in the first round, I've seen Agassi, Courier, Michael Chang lose in the first round. You're looking at Grand Slam champions losing in the first round. I have nothing to hold my head down about.

Q. Where do you go from here?


Q. In terms of tournaments?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I'll take just a couple days off, get back to training like I always do, just run the next series of events in the US.

Q. Satellites?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: No, Challenger and upward.

Q. Do you know what cities you'll be playing in?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Possibly Texas, Oklahoma, California. I might go out of the country for a little bit, play overseas. I don't even know what I'm going to do next week, so I'm not looking at that just yet.

Q. What is your ranking now?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I don't know. I was trying to find the ranking sheet, but I wasn't able to find an updated one.

Q. What's the highest you've been?


Q. When was that?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Early this year before the clay season. I jumped to 290 after an event in Ecuador.

Q. Any you guys left up there (inaudible)?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: My mother is still there. We have home base in Michigan. The Florida weather seems to be better for training year-round. Not much time is spent there, but it's home to me.

Q. Your dad played a great role in your development, but what about Michigan brought you into prominence playing tennis?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I don't think the city had anything to do with it. My father had a job opportunity with General Motors for 20 years. That moved him from New York to Michigan. I was born there. Whammo, things started to pick up. I don't think it would have been different if we grew up in Ohio or Indiana. I'm happy with Michigan. It's a pretty nice place.

Q. Do you think Mal is going to be back to anywhere where he was years ago?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: That's a tough question for me to answer. I think God given health, strength, a desire to train and prepare, just about anything can happen. I know Muster had a tough accident many years ago. If anyone can come back from that, I don't think a little minor knee surgery should be that bad. Then again, I think it's best for you to ask him. Maybe he has a more realistic answer for you than I could give.

Q. Was it the knee that bothered him most of the year?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I would say so. He had a little work done on it, a little rehabilitation. I think, again, you'll have to ask him.

Q. Is it the same knee that flared up?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Same one, I would say, yes.

Q. Which one?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Gosh, left. I don't know. I think it's the left one. Only got two to choose from, so we'll stick with left.

Q. How many US Opens have you played in?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Main draw, first one.

Q. First one?


Q. What are you going to take away from this experience?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: $10,000, that's what I'll take home, and thankful that I had the opportunity to play. I'm definitely going to be back again and again and again and again.

Q. It's been a sometimes acrimonious trip from South Florida into this main draw. Would you have done the same things all over again to get here? Did you take the right path to get here?


Q. The threats and the allegations to the USTA that it was a racist organization, that they weren't giving wildcards to black people because there were some racial decisions made, all that very public.

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Well, I won't comment on that just yet, but I thank you for your question. Definitely in the near future, I'll definitely have a very strong comment. I certainly hope you'll be looking at the newspapers very shortly.

Q. That's kind of cryptic. What do you mean, exactly?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Keep your eyes open. That's the job of the reporters. You're supposed to make sure nothing gets past you. You're supposed to watch and go to the source and find your answers. If I tell you everything, then you wouldn't be doing your job. You have to be patient and wait. When it hits, you'll know it.

Q. Will that statement come through Ellis Rubin's office possibly?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I'm an independent speaker. I can do and say the things I need to say at the right time. At this time, I'll hold that thought.

Q. There was talk of maybe a protest here. Is that still possible?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: That went on last Sunday, on the boardwalk right outside the stadium from about 11 to 2. I don't know if you were aware of it. Some of the media was.

Q. Yesterday?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Yes. So it was about a three-hour event.

Q. What did it consist of?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Mothers, fathers, coaches, players.

Q. What were people doing, marching, holding signs?


Q. How many were involved?


Q. Seems like an odd time for a demonstration to get maximum exposure. Why wouldn't you do it once the US Open tournament began?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Should I have -- say that again.

Q. It seems like kind of an odd or unusual time to have a demonstration if you're trying to get maximum exposure for the message you're trying to deliver. Why not do it once the US Open begins and you have 27,000 people walking in here?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: Well, sometimes you have to pick the right days and sometimes the days that those who organize it felt that that was the best day. If they think that's the best day, that's the best day. You'll be surprised how many New Yorkers come by the subway and pass by them. If you get a hold of the people that were there, they would probably give you a better answer. I wasn't there. I was here on the grounds, but not during that protest, no.

Q. When you got word that not just yourself but your sister and your brother were all getting wildcards into the tournament, what was your reaction to that?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I got it secondhand. A gentleman walked up to me a couple weeks ago and told me I had it before I even knew about it. I know my brother is not playing, so he didn't receive one. I'm assuming my sister will play sometime tomorrow. I think every American player should have the opportunity to play America's tournament.

Q. Do you think you'd get that wildcard if you had not spoken up last December and in the months since then?

MASHISKA WASHINGTON: I think that's a self-explanatory question. Would I be drinking from the same water fountain you would if certain people wouldn't have protested? Do things come up voluntarily or do things accidentally happen? Self-explanatory.

End of FastScripts….

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