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September 1, 1999

Tara Snyder

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

USTA: Questions, please.

Q. Can you imagine someday talking to a packed room here? Kind of empty today.

TARA SNYDER: Yeah, it would be very nice. I'd rather it be sooner than later. Actually, the last time I was in here was when I won the Juniors in '95. It was a fairly big crowd. It wasn't full. So it's been a few years for me, but it's nice to be back.

Q. How important was it winning the Juniors here? Some pretty fine players won Juniors to go on to great careers.

TARA SNYDER: For me it was a huge step to turning pro because I had turned pro right before playing the Juniors in '95. Even today, walking on the grandstand, I said to myself, "I've not yet lost a match on this court." I'd only played one, which was the finals of the Juniors. That same atmosphere of gaining that experience was key, even walking out today and feeling very comfortable, even though it's been a few years, it felt like I had definitely had experience and been there before.

Q. At Wimbledon the first couple of days, Alexandra walked around, no one knew her, totally anonymous. She was upset about that. Venus said, "Just wait." Do you sense that someday your day is coming pretty soon? Do you enjoy your anonymity at this point?

TARA SNYDER: I definitely think I'm more low-key. I like to kind of feel comfortable at a tournament and not have too much, I guess, distractions. At the same time it comes with the territory. Like Alexandra did phenomenal at Wimbledon. Even as a teammate, we played in the PanAm Games. She all of a sudden had a lot of media around her constantly. I think definitely at times it can be negative. I think overall, I would rather have that than the opposite if that's what comes with being successful.

Q. Silver medallist in Winnipeg. Who did you lose to?

TARA SNYDER: To ^ finish toe in the final, who is a solid player. It was the first time for me representing my country, which was hopefully a lead-up to one day playing in the Olympics. We had a great team. Alexandra won the bronze. Mixed doubles with Cecil. Lilia Osterloh. The Bryans came out just now and watched a little of the match. It's nice to kind of get to know fellow players.

Q. You live in Houston now. How was that with your training? How do you go about finding people to hit with?

TARA SNYDER: Houston, for women especially, I think it's really developed. Lori McNeil trains there, Zina Garrison, Katrina Adams, Mashona Washington has moved there, myself. It's kind of becoming a little bit of a mecca for women's tennis. I've been there almost three years now. Prior to that I was in Wichita, Kansas living. Compared to Wichita, there's no problems finding players to hit with, a lot of nice clubs in Houston. It's worked out really well for me.

Q. Do you hit with those players in particular?

TARA SNYDER: Yeah. Now that there is Mashona and Lori, a lot of girls on the Tour. Katrina is retiring at the end of this year. Yeah, it's been great. Zina will call me periodically to hit. There's a lot of support from the girls that have a lot of experience and knowledge. From that aspect, it's really worked out well, being able to play with a lot of those girls who have been around the Tour for a while.

Q. Have you ever faced Mauresmo before?

TARA SNYDER: Yeah. I lost to her this year first round at the French Open. It was a tough match. We were obviously on stadium with thousands of French fans screaming her name. Hopefully there will be a few Snyders in the crowd this time since it's on American soil.

Q. Especially with all the press she was getting there, how intimidating was that to be at Roland Garros in front of sort of a hometown star?

TARA SNYDER: Actually, going out there I was hoping it would work to my advantage because she had a lot of pressure, being on her home territory, with all the media and everything from Australia. But she played a great match. For me it was a good experience. The day prior, I got to play Steffi in just those pro sets. It gave me a good idea what to expect walking out and playing her on Stadium Court. This year has been phenomenal for getting experience playing top players. I played Testud in Australia, Zvereva twice this year. Mauresmo at the French, Conchita at Wimbledon. I've had a lot of experience playing under the circumstances. I think that's helped even today, going out there and playing even on the grandstand, feeling pretty comfortable.

Q. Do you feel more confident on this surface, hard court, against her than on the clay?

TARA SNYDER: Much. This tournament, first of all, is my favorite tournament. Just that alone, I love playing here in New York at The Open. I've had some really good experiences here, like again winning the Juniors here. Up until a few weeks Canada, last week Quebec, it was the highlight of my career.

Q. You are both good ball-strikers. How hard does she hit the ball?

TARA SNYDER: She hits a heavy ball. I wouldn't say as much like a Lucic whose ball is coming heavy, too, it's more of a line drive. I think Mauresmo hits a heavier ball with a topspin than a lot of girls hit. I think I moved well today, which is going to be key again against her. Just continue to kind of progress with the way I'm playing.

Q. We're here in the heart of USTA land. I wanted to ask you, what were your experiences like with the USTA player development, the coaches? Do you think that's a good system? Is there room for improvement?

TARA SNYDER: I've been with the USTA for a lot of my junior career and even as a pro. I have all positives to say. Lynne Rolley, director of tennis, has been supportive of me. In '94 I was on the national team, then on the rookie pro team. Then '95 when I turned pro. Recently I've been assigned to the rookie pro team with Ola (ph), who is traveling with three girls. Last week was our first week working together. Already this week I feel I'm playing a lot stronger. I think the support that they give the players has been very good. I don't have really anything negative to say about the USTA. I know they've made a lot of changes in the last year, which they're trying to cater more to the pros, have a lot of USTA players out there, trying to develop as many Top 100 girls and guys as possible. I'm very happy with the situation and the support that they've given me.

Q. You don't have a private coach right now?

TARA SNYDER: Yes, I do. In Houston, I have Keith Chrisman. That's what's worked out very well. Keith is here, along with the USTA coaches. They work together. It's a good combination.

Q. What about a WTA mentor?

TARA SNYDER: No, not quite young enough for that. Maybe if I was a few years younger (laughter).

Q. When you looked at the draw heading in, what did you expect?

TARA SNYDER: I didn't look at the draw.

Q. You didn't?

TARA SNYDER: No. I try not to. I knew who I was playing first match, Cervenova, who I had never seen or heard of before. After I won that match, I found out I played Lucic. Today I found out about Mauresmo. I try not to look too hard at the draw or get ahead of myself.

Q. Is this the furthest you've advanced in any Grand Slam?

TARA SNYDER: Yes. I've been saying, okay, second round of the last two years of these Grand Slams. I'm waiting for a third round, I said coming into this. My father was funny. He came up to me prior to my first round. He said, "I can sense this is going to be a good year for you." He said, "The last time I really sensed that was when you won the Juniors here." Not that it added any pressure (laughter). I said, "Wow, if dad thinks, that I better go out there and play well and do well."

Q. You seem pretty confident heading into Mauresmo. Would you have felt that way playing a seed in the third round if you had advanced that far last year?

TARA SNYDER: No. Where the maturity has came in the last year has been amazing. That's why I look at these young girls, Hingis, Lucic, it's amazing that they're able to handle everything at such a young age. I probably developed later in my career. I'm 22 now. Every year the maturity that I feel on and off the court, especially off the court, carries over to on the court. Certain situations even today I think a year ago I would have handled different.

Q. So you think you're mature enough if you beat a seeded player in the next round, you're one of the major stories?

TARA SNYDER: I think at 22, I'm ready (laughter).

Q. A pretty good year for American female tennis. Has Lindsay given you much support over the years?

TARA SNYDER: Yeah, Lindsay is very supportive. I've actually just -- I've known her, but really known her better in the last year. She's been great. I mean, she comes up and says, "Hi," nice things in the locker room, which helps. I've made quite a few friends in the last year. When I first came on Tour, it was hard. I guess I was more of a loner and I didn't talk to all the girls. I guess that comes with the maturity of feeling comfortable, getting to know the girls and being friends. It's made a big difference in just having the support. Today, Brie and Osterloh and some of the girls came out to my match. You notice it. It's nice to have that US support. I think that's where the USTA is really making an effort. A lot of Spanish and the French, they really stick together and support each other. That's the direction that the us USTA wants to go with the players, is having all the support from the other players, coming out to the matches. I think it makes a big difference.

Q. A lot of players, when we ask, "What are your goals," they say, "To play the best I can." In your gut, is your goal Top 10, win a Slam?

TARA SNYDER: Last year was my highest. I finished 33 at the end of last year. Definitely for me it's more step-by-step, more just progression. Breaking into the Top 20 is my next goal because I think that's a reachable goal. Then from there, reevaluate the goals and hopefully try to make that next step into the Top 10 versus saying I want to be No. 1 in the world. I want to be realistic and become the best player I can be, let my game more than anything progress. That's the way I felt here from the first match on, each match not put so high expectations as much as feel each match I'm progressing with my game in the direction I want to go. No. 1 would be nice, though (laughter).

Q. How does Tara Snyder US Open champion sound?

TARA SNYDER: Sounds perfect, beautiful. Then maybe one day I'll mentor a girl (laughter).

Q. A young girl?

TARA SNYDER: A young girl, yes. Hopefully not in the next year or two.

End of FastScripts….

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