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July 19, 2003

Billie Jean King

Chanda Rubin


THE MODERATOR: Chanda Rubin and Billie Jean King for questions.

Q. At 3-3 in the first set, you have that long game. That seemed to kick it into gear. You closed out and seemed to be more comfortable the rest of the way. Was that the turning point?

CHANDA RUBIN: I definitely felt more comfortable from that point. I knew it was just a question of a couple points on the return games, and that's always a strength of mine, and I wanted to get that going as soon as possible. So it felt really good at that point, once I broke.

Q. Congratulations.

CHANDA RUBIN: Thank you.

Q. First of all, I want to know, at what point in the match does it depend on mental attitude and at what point does it depend on skills?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, the whole match is your approach, and it's mental from beginning to end. You know, you always -- you just want to start off well, of course. But wherever you are at the beginning of the match, you just have to work your way from that point into the form that you want to be in by the end of the match. So it's all mental, in my opinion. You know, of course the skill is important, but you just want to rely on what you've done in practice and what you've done on the court going into the match.

Q. On a scale of zero to ten, where would you place the mental aspect of the match?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, mental is, you know, the most important part. I mean, it's probably 75 percent of tennis. You know, as I said, I mean, the work you've done on the practice court and the skill level you have in your game and what your game plan is is important; but, you know, the mental aspect is huge.

Q. Did she play the way you expected?

CHANDA RUBIN: I played her only once before and it was a few years ago. I know she's been playing well. You kind of throw out the window a lot of the results that a player has had when you come into Fed Cup. I mean, you want to just start off and concentrate on what you need to do because players, a lot of times, come up and play really well when they haven't been because it's Fed Cup. But I expected her to play similar to what she played, and I expected her to try to slice and really get me out of my rhythm. I just wanted to go out and counter that and really stay tough.

Q. Billie Jean, could I ask you about Meghann's match. Fed Cup is unique in that you've got the coach sitting right there next to you. When you're up 5-1 and the nerves start getting to you, I would imagine as a coach, being able to talk to a player during the changeover one-on-one, that's a strength. Can you talk about that. She did say the nerves were getting to her a little bit.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Is that what she said? She said the nerves were getting to her?

Q. Yes.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: You have to go back to when we played against Austria. She had matchpoint against Barbara Schwartz and lost the match and we ended up losing to Austria. So for her, this is very important that she come back out and prove to herself that she can finish. So there was a lot going on there today, wasn't just about today. There was some history that she has to overcome now in her mind. You know, as I told her in Austria, "You can use this as a disaster, or you can use this experience as a new opportunity." And I think she has done a remarkable job of using it as a new opportunity. She's changed her backhand. She's trying to go to net more, and making changes that will make her a better player. Sometimes that's a short-term loss for a long-term gain, but she's willing to do that. She was not happy with herself. She knew what was going on - in fact she's gone back out to practice because she just told me she can't stand the fact she was choking and she's going back out on the court. But I'm just trying to think back what I was telling her at the time... Now that I've known her for over a year, you know, you talk in cues. Just like when Chanda and I talk, Benny Sims is her coach, and I know what he thinks, the words he uses. I try to use his words, not mine, because that's what Chanda is familiar with. So with Meghann, I try to be similar about what Rafael says, too, her coach as well as I've also helped her a little bit. She's asked me to help her at times. I'll help any Fed Cup player, any American, any time. I just told her she has to accept responsibility. It doesn't matter if you're choking out of your wazoo or whatever, that you've got to accept it and find a way to get through it - even if it's ugly. Just find a way. Then there's some other things, obviously, that I tried to emphasize, like first serves in. I kept telling her to go for it, but not go for the lines but to really hit through the ball. Just things that she knows. We've been through it before, and, you know, I'll continue to say this, though, it's the players that make the coach, not the coach that make the players. So that's real obvious.

Q. Chanda, Meghann hung on to win that last set, whereas you kind of came from behind, down 2-0 in the second set. Was it just Fed Cup jitters for you? It's been a long time. What was the reason why you had a slow start and then you finished strong?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, I think, you know, the first two games of the second set was, you know, I was a little bit low energy-wise, you know. I didn't really keep up the aggressive nature that I needed, especially once I won the first set. That was something I had to change. I almost got down 3-0, so it was important for me to get on the board I think at that point. You know, just, you know, in my mind, work myself up back to, you know, the level of energy and the level of aggressiveness that I had at the end of the second set -- I mean at the end of the first set.

Q. Did that happen when you started going to the net more? It seemed like even with Meghann, when the players start going to net, you seem to have more control, more confidence out there?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, going to the net is trying to be aggressive. The person who is trying to be aggressive and has opportunities to be aggressive is most of the time gonna be in control of the match. So, for me, it's very important that I really use that part of my game, and especially against that type of player who is sort of, you know, changing the rhythm and just trying to slow up play. It's important that I be aggressive.

Q. Billie Jean, is your team exactly where you expected it to be at this point, and how does this set up tomorrow?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, it's exactly where we all want to be. But, you know, I really believe in Chanda and I really believe in Meghann. They've worked hard their entire lives, but they've also worked very hard this week to be a great team player. And anything can happen in Fed Cup, you know, when you're playing for your country. But I thought both of them played great. The important thing is just win. I mean, you have to find a way to shake hands. The only way you can win, though, is by staying in the process. So the end result equals the process. So it's very, very important to stay in the process - one ball at a time, stay very focused, try to do the right things, try to hit the right shots at the time. Selection of shot is really important. Choice of shot or selection of shot, I think, equals a lot of talent. I'm a very big believer in that. I stress that with players, that the great ones hit the right shots at the right time. I think -- Chanda played in Raleigh many moons ago, and it was just interesting seeing the difference in the maturity of her game. Her backhand is 100 percent better than in Raleigh. She would not go to net in Raleigh. Now she likes going to net. Her forehand's become a huge weapon, even though it was a weapon at that time; now, it's huge. Her serve is much more consistent with much different placement, and she uses spin, and she's just so much better on the serve. So it's just amazing how much improvement since Raleigh. And I'm trying to think how many years ago, was that four? Four or five? Might have been five.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, '99.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: So it was four. But it's just amazing, the difference of her maturity and also mentally how much stronger she truly is, and emotionally - I think emotionally much stronger as well. I think it's the emotional factor. Everyone talks about "mental." I think what we really mean is emotional and mental. Because mental is what you think, but emotional is how you respond to situations. You can either respond extremely emotional and get out of hand, or you can be a little more analytical about it and respond in a positive way. But that's self-awareness, and each player is very different. So you have to know yourself. I think Chanda knows herself so much better now. And I just can't tell you how pleased I am for her to be here because she's been through a lot. I think, finally, maybe the media's awakening to what she's been through the last few years with two knee operations, a wrist operation, all that. It's kind of like she's been ignored. It's kind of irritated me, to be honest. So I'm really pleased she can be here and be our star.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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