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August 26, 1997

Aubrie Rippner

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. That was pretty quick, I packed up my bag and you were finished. Was it that easy?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, it wasn't easy. It was very nerve-wracking and exciting. The score was 2 and 2, but I felt like every point was important.

Q. Is it any different playing as a professional?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, I just try to go about my business the same way and not think about it, just play my match.

Q. How hold were you when you started playing tennis and why?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: It was actually my 6th birthday present. My brother played and my father played and so I always tagged along and I guess they wouldn't let me play until I was 6. I am not sure why. But, it was my birthday present.

Q. They gave you --

AUBRIE RIPPNER: They gave me tennis lessons. They signed me up for tennis lessons.

Q. At a club?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah. At a club.

Q. Did you grow up in Chico?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, I was born in Los Angeles and moved to Chico when I was very young.

Q. Big difference?


Q. Chico is kind of a rural area?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, it is a small town. I mean, there is about 75,000 people, but there is not very many tennis players there, so...

Q. What do you do growing up in Chico, fishing and rafting on the Feather River?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Actually we have a creek in our backyard and I go tubing down the creek when I have time.

Q. Were you good right away at this game when you were six years old?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: From what I hear, I was terrible. But, I don't know, my parents might be -- No, I mean, I enjoyed to play. I have enjoyed playing ever since I started. So, I mean --

Q. You think there wouldn't be too many players in Chico, California; did you have to go to Sacramento?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, as I got better, I had to drive more and more to get good practice. My coach lives in Sacramento, so I have to drive down there to practice or sometimes he drives up or we will meet in the middle.

Q. How far is it about?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: It is about 90 miles.

Q. Do you do some weight lifting? You don't see too many kids your age with biceps that are pronounced as that?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, I do lift although I have been playing so many matches this year, I haven't lifted as much. But, I think I have always been stronger in my upper body. I think it is just genetic, maybe, I don't know.

Q. Was your dad an athlete too?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, my dad played college tennis for Stanford. He played doubles with Roscoe Tanner and he played 1 and 2, so he was a good player.

Q. He is a big guy?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, he is not that big. He is like 5' 10".

Q. What is his name?


Q. What does he do now?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: He is a doctor.

Q. What do you envision for yourself now that you are starting a professional career?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Well, right now, I am just excited to be playing professional tennis. I am probably going to play some Challengers in the United States this year and maybe go to Europe and play a couple of tournaments there. And, you know, I am planning on going to Australia in January.

Q. Before you turned pro did you have a chance to sit down with Lynne Rolley or even some girls that have been on the Tour for a while to sort of ask them what life is going to be like now that you are professional?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it wasn't a decision -- I mean, obviously I wanted to turn pro, but it was decision that everybody contributed to, the USTA, my coach, and former player Patty Fendick gave me a lot of advice.

Q. You know Patty?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, we practice together. We practiced last couple of years that she was healthy on the Tour and we still hit every once in a while when her knees are feeling well.

Q. Is she still living in Lake Tahoe?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, but her mother lives in Sacramento so she is up there quite often.

Q. Patty is a pretty smart gal?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: She is very smart. She is helping me tremendously.

Q. What kind of advice did she give you about turning professional?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: She just basically told me, you know, where she thought my game was. She told me that she thought I was ready and, you know, she is -- at least she has been great giving me tips about practice courts, everything, she has been very helpful.

Q. Is she here this week?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, she is.

Q. What is the best part of your game?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Well, I think my serve has become more and more of a weapon. And, my forehand also. I like to come to net a lot. I did well on grass this summer and I think just, you know, all-around game I like to do a little bit of everything.

Q. Are you a high school graduate?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I am starting my senior year.

Q. In Chico?


Q. Is it Chico high school?


Q. What is the Chico High School mascot? What are the teams? What is the nickname of the teams, Panthers, Tigers?


Q. Okay, it is not important. You don't play on the high school team?


Q. It says something that you have a karate belt?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, I haven't done it recently, but I did have a purple belt in karate.

Q. What age was that?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Last year probably. But, I have been travelling so much this year that I haven't been able to keep up.

Q. Is that something you did for many years?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I did it for two and a half years.

Q. Does that mean that put up like a stack of bricks you could crack right through?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, I didn't get a chance to practice that.

Q. Is there any relation to the karate thing in tennis or do you do just do it for fun?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Both. For me I did it because I have a tendency to lose my flexibility and there is big emphasis on stretching and plyometrics (sic) and also it is just fun. It was something to do. It was good exercise.

Q. What kind of a doctor is your dad?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: He is a radiologist.

Q. As a Stanford grad, did you guys have like long talks about tennis versus college and all that stuff?


Q. What were your plans there?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: When I was younger I always wanted to go to Stanford and then turn pro. But, at this point, I would have to wait another year before going to Stanford and I feel like my game is ready and I am excited about playing professional tournaments and I can't do that, you know--

Q. Will you try and go to college soon anyway or will you put that off 'til after your tennis career?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I plan on going to college after my tennis career.

Q. Where do you think your game is in relationship to Lilia?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: That is impossible for me to answer, really. I haven't seen her play in a year. We played in the juniors a long time ago, but she has spent a year at college. So, I mean, she obviously is playing great. She had a good win yesterday, but I can't compare.

Q. Did you win something recently?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I lost in the Finals of Junior Wimbledon and I won the tournament before Junior Wimbledon.

Q. Do you feel like a little kid among all these pros and stuff or do you feel pretty comfortable? Is it similar to junior tennis and do you feel like you fit right in?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Actually it is more similar than I thought it would be. Like you'd think it would be a huge jump, but really the top juniors aren't that far from the top pros, I think, and it is still the same game and if you just go out and compete hard, I think you can do just as well here.

Q. Do you feel like you know a lot of faces?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, it is kind of weird because a lot of people I saw on TV when I was little, it is strange to be out here playing them.

Q. What was the highest ranked player you played?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Probably Nathalie Tauziat. I played her last week in Atlanta.

Q. How did you do?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I lost 6-2 in the third.

Q. So you were competitive?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, I won the first set.

Q. Did you pattern your game after anyone in particular, particularly with going to the net?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Not anyone particular. I tried to learn a little bit from all the good players, but there is not anyone in particular, no.

Q. Does it seem a little weird that the No. 1 player in the world is younger than you?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, it is hard to think about it that way. When you see her out there killing everybody, it is hard to think that she is younger than I am.

Q. Thanks.


Q. How old are you?


Q. Who did you lose to in the final of Wimbledon?


Q. From South Africa?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: From Zimbabwe. I have played Cara four times this year.

Q. I sense a rivalry.

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I won the first three and I lost in Wimbledon.

Q. You played juniors here last year?


Q. What is your sense of the new joint, does it feel a lot different?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I think it is great. It is much improved. The stadium is awesome and, you know, even the outside courts, it is much nicer, much less crowded, because I remember it being very difficult to get around. And, now, it is great.

Q. How did you do last year?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I lost in the first round juniors to a girl from Italy.

Q. Your folks are here?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: My father is here, yes.

Q. So you have to phone call home or does your dad take care of that for you?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I don't know. I haven't seen him yet. But we will definitely have to make a phone call.

Q. What kind of emotion do you feel? You have beat a pretty good girl the first match in the U.S. Open.

AUBRIE RIPPNER: It is hard to be on a high because I have to focus on my next match. But, I am very excited and it is a little bit of relief to go out now that I have turned pro and kind of prove something to myself that, you know, I do belong there and, yeah, it is great.

Q. What was the reason you turned pro at this time?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Main reason is I just felt like I was ready. This is something I have always wanted and I am excited that it came about here at the U.S. Open.

Q. It was your older brother that played before you?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, my brother played.

Q. Does he still play?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, he is coaching a little bit. He just graduated from UC Santa Cruz and he is coaching some of the young players in Chico, but he is not playing competitively.

Q. What is his name?


Q. Do you play him very often?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, every once in a while. I mean, like I said, I have been so busy this summer that I haven't been home that much. But we will go out and hit some.

Q. How much older is he than you?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: He is six years older.

Q. So, when you were a little kid and you were just starting to play and you had lessons, did you actually play him then?


Q. Do you remember like the first time you have played him, were you competitive and stuff with him or --

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Oh, yeah, I was always competitive. Playing big brother, you always get in his face.

Q. Could you beat him?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, not when I was little.

Q. But --

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Just try to give him a hard time.

Q. But you have beaten him?


Q. How old were you when you beat him?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Oh, gosh. I don't know. I don't know. We have gone back and forth, I don't remember.

Q. You could possibly play Lucic next. Have you ever played her?


Q. Recently?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I think it was a year and a half, two years ago at a tournament before the Italian Open juniors.

Q. How did you do?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: No, the tournament after. I won.

Q. There has been a little fuss about her being allowed to play in a Grand Slam at her age, all that. Do you have any feelings what is too old, too young, who should play, who shouldn't play?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: I think if your ranking is high enough or if you earn a spot in the tournament, you definitely deserve to play. The same thing happened to me two years ago when I was 15 and won the Nationals. And, for a while, I wasn't sure if I was going to get to play because of my age. And I think that anybody who earns their way in deserves to play.

Q. When you talk with somebody like Patty Fendick about tennis, you guys talk about tennis or do you talk, you know, about all the other stuff too, the Tour and what is scary and --

AUBRIE RIPPNER: We talk about everybody. It is great because she has experienced everything. She had a long career and it is good. I mean, it is reassuring to know that other people have felt the same things you are and that are similar to talk to when you have questions about things.

Q. Probably a stupid question, but I am good at that. Is there anything that kind of scares you about this whole thing? I don't know if that is the right word, but is there anything that either worries you or --

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Well, I think it is a big decision to turn pro. And, you are giving up a lot by turning pro. So, I mean, there is always a worry of injury or anything that could hamper your career.

Q. What do you give up to turn pro?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: College scholarship to somewhere like Stanford. It is a lot to give up. It is a big decision.

Q. Maybe they couldn't do it yet when you were a junior, but were there feelers from a lot of schools or anything going there yet?

AUBRIE RIPPNER: Yeah, I got a lot of that in the mail, and I got phone calls from a few schools. But I think if I decided to go to school, I would have definitely have gone to Stanford since that is where my dad went.

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