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February 11, 2018

Paul Haarhuis

Demi Schuurs

Lesley Kerkhove

Asheville, North Carolina


6-1, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was the experience like out there? How does it feel to have a victory over the Williams sisters?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Of course, it's a nice experience. Against this crowd, the two Williams sisters, it's amazing. We won the match. We played the first time together. The atmosphere was great. Also after the match, we feel amazing. It's unbelievable we beat them.

Q. Paul, you talked earlier about the quality of the court.
PAUL HAARHUIS: I want to interrupt for a second. If you have questions for the girls, I would like to do that first because they have doping control.

Q. For Demi, Lesley, sum up your experience here in Asheville.
UNIDENTIFIEDSPEAKER: Yeah, I mean, it was really tough this weekend. Of course, we lost, but we had a nice week here. We love Asheville. Of course, it was nice to win this last match. We gave it all at the court. Also the two girls.

I think it was nice matches for the crowd. The crowd was amazing. We had a nice week here in Asheville.

Q. Lesley, when did you find out you were playing the Williams sisters today? How did you game plan against two of the greatest players to pick up a racquet?
LESLEY KERKHOVE: I think we knew it just 30 minutes before the match. Yeah, I mean, we just both gave it all, nothing to lose. I think we played a really great match. We just went for it every ball, every game, every point. It really worked out.

Q. How soon was it that you were able to see, obviously Serena was off court for a year, she was not in the shape we usually see her? Could you see that right away? Not to take anything away from your win.
UNIDENTIFIEDSPEAKER: Yeah, I think it's always tough to have a first match after a one-year break, not just for Serena, but for every girl. The level is really close to each other.

Yeah, I think she needs still some more matches. But we played really great. Yeah, I think we are just really happy about this match.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you both. We'll continue with coach.

Q. Paul, wrap up your time here in Asheville.
PAUL HAARHUIS: Like I said after on the court, the people from Asheville really came on very, very, very friendly. We really enjoyed our stay here. But in the end we only came for one thing to Asheville, and that was for the tennis, not for sight-seeing, not for meeting friendly people. In that matter, we're leaving empty-handed.

But obviously we knew before we came here it was going to be a very tough match for us because the American team has so much depth and they can bring in so many good players. We knew we had to play very well.

Unfortunately yesterday Richel couldn't capitalize on some chances she had, being up a set, 3-Love, a breakpoint for 4-Love. On the other hand, that's when Coco stepped up with some big points. In the third set she had a breakpoint. The one breakpoint, she served an ace.

But we feel if we had had an opportunity, we had to win that match to crawl back into it. Yeah, that's a shame. It's nice to win the doubles. The girls really played good. Yeah, maybe Serena hasn't played for a year, but these girls just started firing away from the first moment. Big serves, big returns.

I think credit to them. More than Serena not playing, it was credit to them that they really played outstanding. But, yeah, it's only a very small tissue for a big, gaping cut.

Q. What does this victory mean going home and going forward? Is it a boon for Dutch tennis?
PAUL HAARHUIS: This doubles victory?

Q. Yes.
PAUL HAARHUIS: The doubles victory is a nice boost for those two girls who played. I think if you told them before last week, Okay, on Sunday you're going to play Venus and Serena, they would have been excited but also a little bit frightened. Then to come out and play like they did, they got the win themselves. They weren't hoping for mistakes from the other girls. They served good, made almost every return. Almost every serve they got, they made the returns. They were charging at the net.

I think they're going to feel very good about that. But Dutch tennis won't change, you know. We've lost. Dutch tennis has lost here this weekend, so it's not going to change by winning the doubles.

Q. You said earlier in the week you come in as heavy underdogs. Did some of the individual performances this weekend give you confidence going forward that maybe down the line you're going to be coming into these with a better shot at winning?
PAUL HAARHUIS: Well, I would love to be not the underdog. For us to play teams like the USA, we'd have to bring in four girls in the top 10. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Obviously not having Kiki Bertens here didn't help us either. She has a very strong Fed Cup record. These girls should use the experience, say this is what happened. Especially Richel should be thinking, I can give these girls a hard time, make them feel nervous it's a close match. That's what she should take away for the next couple months, that she can basically beat all these girls if she plays well.

But underdog will be for a while, I think.

Q. You actually started answering the question I was going to ask, which was about Richel. She really pushed hard, had some great moments. It seemed she fell away perhaps at the mental level at some point. Can you speak to that a little bit? She lost her confidence at certain points.
PAUL HAARHUIS: Yeah, she felt like she wasn't playing well actually today. That's what she felt. Still she was in the match the whole first set. That actually frustrated her because she felt like if she had just played a little bit better, she would have been up a set and not down a set.

She was down on herself for not playing better. I said, Listen, this is the way it goes. Can you imagine if you start playing as good as you think you can from now on?

Then Serena [sic] also in the second set didn't miss a shot any more. So you can start playing better, but if Serena -- if Venus starts playing better, then it's tough. In Venus plays her best, Richel plays her best, I think Venus is just a little bit of a better player.

Q. From your perspective, how far do you think Serena still has to go? What might have been missing from what she normally does?
PAUL HAARHUIS: Well, what I saw today was that she lacks match practice. She needs to play matches, get the first serve, the second serve, the returns, the court sense. That's what she's missing. That's what everybody would be missing after a year off.

But what I saw is she still has that sense of, Okay, I need to hit a dink shot, I need to come with power now, I need to change up my serve not for a flat one but a big kick. That's what makes her game so special. That's nice to see.

She just needs to play matches. I think obviously she's going to be disappointed she lost, but I think she realized from that match, I need more matches like this.

I think she's going to be fine. She's got the game, you know.

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