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August 27, 2002

Chanda Rubin


MODERATOR: Questions for Chanda.

Q. This is your 11th US Open. You are really coming in on some big wins. How do you feel kind of getting this behind you, kind of looking ahead, seeing how you're going to do this year?

CHANDA RUBIN: I mean, the first thing today was just getting the first match under my belt. I definitely, you know, realize I've been playing some good tennis over the summer. I just want to continue that. You know, this is a big tournament, the ones we sort of do our schedule around. But the wins that I've had, you know, in LA and earlier in the summer, Eastbourne, they're great for my confidence. You know, that's what I want to be able to do, as well. You know, kind of have to change tracks a little bit coming into here, but it's a great event.

Q. There were a couple games in the first and second set, so many deuces, fighting off breakpoints. Is that where you are at your best or are you still kind of frustrated that you're taking it to that extreme?

CHANDA RUBIN: In that particular match, it's definitely not, you know, what I wanted to continue doing. I mean, it's great to scratch and paw a little bit in a couple games, win those games. But, you know, I had some opportunities just to keep the match, you know, sort of just moving along in my favor. You know, it slipped back, I let her have a few opportunities that, you know, just wasn't necessary. You know, it's something I'm going to have to improve in my next round, you know, just get a little better. I'll have some specific things to work on tomorrow before the next one. You know, in the next match, I'll see how well I do that compared to today.

Q. Did you surprise yourself, how fast and how well you did after coming back from the second surgery?

CHANDA RUBIN: I didn't have a whole lot of, you know, concrete expectations right away. I mean, I figured I'd have to just play my way into some rhythm. The main thing for me was just giving myself a chance to get back into a sort of flow and a sort of rhythm by, you know, really working through matches, you know, allowing points to evolve when I started playing the first tournament. I think that was the biggest thing that helped me. I had quite a few matches in Berlin where I qualified. I had a rough week in Rome right after that where I didn't qualify. You know, it wasn't just all great, you know, everything was gravy from the minute I stepped back onto the court. But we've also done some training off the court, you know, just to continue to improve what I've been doing on the court in the matches. So it's a lot of things that have gone into, you know, the way that I'm playing. You know, I didn't not expect it. I'll say that (laughter).

Q. Did the injury in a weird way help in forcing you to concentrate in coming back, trying to get conditioning and everything else?

CHANDA RUBIN: I mean, it's tough to say. I mean, nobody wants to say an injury helps them, because it certainly has set me back a bit, because I had two surgeries. The first one sort of happened right when I had gotten my ranking back, right on the edge of the Top 10, The Championships, you work all year for that, and I really couldn't play, you know, close to my level because of the pain. That is definitely not something that I think helped me at that point. But, you know, on the flipside, just coming back, it definitely has made me appreciate, you know, things a little bit more. You know, I feel like every opportunity is one that I want to take advantage of. You never know how many more you're going to get. Hopefully I'll have a few really great years still left in me. I think I still have a lot of improving that I can do. You don't know physically, you know, what's going to happen. I just try to take advantage of all the opportunities I've had this year certainly coming on the heels of a second knee surgery. In that regard, I think it certainly has been some positive that I've taken from it.

Q. What did you draw from having to play the quallies in Berlin and Rome?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, I mean, you come back on the tour, I've been one of the better players for quite a while, I've been fairly consistent when I've been able to play. You know, just realize that life moves on. When you're out of the game and you're sort of out of the eye, so to speak, there's nobody calling or nobody trying to lift you back in. You know, it's up to you at that point. So I realized that a little bit more. And also, you know, just how tough it is. I mean, going through quallies is not easy. You really have to have a lot of respect for players that do it week in and week out, that really work at it to get their ranking up. Of course, I've done it before when I was younger. When you are a little bit older player, it's difficult. I had a lot of appreciation for getting in the main draw my third week in (laughter).

Q. You mentioned not being in the eye. You're clearly in the eye now. What did you do when you were not playing?

CHANDA RUBIN: Just a lot of rehabbing. I mean, it wasn't really time off, you know, where you can just vacation, enjoy it. You know, I'm on crutches for four weeks, you know, housebound, knee up in a machine when I'm at home. It's a lot different being injured and having the time off.

Q. I was looking for the leg up, hitting volleys.

CHANDA RUBIN: Unfortunately, no. It wasn't any of that going on. You know, I did do some things when I couldn't do any full weight bearing. You know, I sat on a box, maybe would do a few ball tosses, try to keep the reflexes, you know, at a certain degree, certain point. You know, there's not a whole lot you can do. You can't simulate actually getting out and playing once you're in pressure situations and you have to put the shots together and points together. It was great to be back out and get in the thick of things.

Q. Did you swim?

CHANDA RUBIN: All the time.

Q. A member of my family who is in the legal profession brought this to mind. About your father, there must be an extraordinary story of him becoming a judge in Louisiana in the time that he did. Could you tell us about that.

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, he's been a judge I think maybe not quite eight years. I mean, he's in his second term. He was a lawyer for many more years than that. I think the more extraordinary story is just, you know, him, the background. He comes from a large family, you know, 11 kids, living in a small house. Grandmother raised all these kids. He was the first one to finish school, you know, work his way through graduate school and law school to get his law degree while my mom was teaching and working and making money to sort of support the small family early on. I think that part probably is more extraordinary in terms of the whole story. She comes, as well, from a big family, not a lot of money. So you appreciate early on just the value of hard work, setting a goal and working to it and through it. You know, adversity that comes along the way, you just sort of deal with it.

Q. Were your grandparents in the agricultural sector, farmers?

CHANDA RUBIN: My mom's parents -- my grandfather on my mom's side, you know, he raised animals, chickens, hogs. Sold his prize hog so my mom could go to school because she cried and cried. It was that type of story. I don't know if she'll be happy of me saying that (smiling). I think there's a lot to be taken from that, that you just don't realize now. We're comfortable. I support myself now. You know, I'm not living at home now and all of that. When you think about sort of how it started, what they had to do, you know, I appreciate it.

Q. What are their feelings about their daughter and granddaughter becoming an elite-level athlete?

CHANDA RUBIN: My grandmother, my mom's side, she doesn't watch TV quite as much, but she's sort of not shy, I'll say that (laughter). She always gets a kick out of seeing me on TV. She'll tell her friends, "That's my granddaughter," all of this. It's really funny. My grandfather on my mom's side recently passed away. You know, I know up until that point, I mean, he sort of knew, but wasn't quite as aware. On my dad's side, they definitely watch, they follow it. They just enjoy seeing me do well. You know, I get a lot of support.

Q. Speaking about your mom, watching you on television, when you're away from the court, are you basically able to travel anonymously? If that's the case, do you ever worry if you start winning these tournaments, you live that fishbowl existence, crazy attention almost?

CHANDA RUBIN: I don't really think about it. I mean, if it happens, that's sort of the best-case scenario. For me at this point, I get some recognition. Certainly, you know, being from Louisiana, and when I'm home, I get recognized a whole lot. I've been used to that for quite a while. It's not to the degree of, you know, the Williams sisters or Martina Hingis or maybe a couple other players, Anna, off the charts. That type I would not enjoy. A certain degree of recognition, that just goes hand-in-hand, if you're accomplishing things, you're at the top of your field, you accept that. I think I'm mature enough to be able to at this point accept that.

Q. Your father, did you ever see him argue a case in court?

CHANDA RUBIN: I have, but it was boring, yeah (laughter).

Q. You told us many years ago that he was a pretty tough judge. What's the deal there? Keep it clean in his precinct?

CHANDA RUBIN: I think so. I have more experience with him as a lawyer, you know, when I was growing up. He was a lawyer for many years. I think he was pretty tough. From what I hear as a judge, he's really tough, as well. I'd be careful, yeah (smiling).

Q. Where in Louisiana?

CHANDA RUBIN: Lafayette.

Q. Was he on the swim team in college?

CHANDA RUBIN: He was a lifeguard. I remember him mentioning that. He tried many summers to get us into the pool.

Q. Is that the reason he wanted the pool?

CHANDA RUBIN: Yes, unfortunately.

Q. Zina was telling me it's taken a while for you to actually go up to chair umpires and kind of argue your case. Have you kind of broken through on that? Have you been trying to deal with the confrontation?

CHANDA RUBIN: Yes, I'm not really confrontational for the most part. If I'm really upset, okay. But the problem is that when I get really upset, it takes a while. Once I get there, it's usually -- it's not good. You know, it's just too much. For the most part, you know, I keep it under control on the court. I try to maintain a certain level. But, you know, there are definitely times where you have to, you know, plead your case and basically let the person know that you're not happy. For the most part, it never changes. I know that, as well. I don't like to argue something that I know won't make a difference. You know, it's a certain stance that you take as a competitor. You've got to be willing to do it maybe on the next play. They take note, it goes in your favor.

Q. When was the last time you got really angry?

CHANDA RUBIN: I mean, you won't really see, "God, she's just so upset, she's going crazy." It's not like that. It's just I'm boiling inside. I might hold onto it a little too long when you basically just need to let it go.

Q. Are you trying to ride the crest of that extraordinary win a couple weeks ago through this tournament?

CHANDA RUBIN: Yeah, I mean, it definitely wouldn't hurt. It was a big confidence booster. I played some of my best tennis to date at that tournament. It was also a step in winning at the end of the week. It's very easy to have a big win and sort of have a letdown. It takes a lot out of you, as well. It's something that I would definitely like to ride going into here. But it's a new week, you build from the first match. It was nice to get that first match under my belt. You know, I'm going to keep trying to build.

Q. The No. 1 player in the world, Serena Williams, didn't win any of the three tournaments that are part of the California circuit. Yet three African American women won all three. That was for the second time in three years. What are your thoughts about that and the excellence that African American women are showing in women's tennis?

CHANDA RUBIN: I mean, we can play. That's clear. I think in terms of Venus and Serena, they're just lifting the game to a whole 'nother level. The rest of us, we either need to step up or step back and let them through. That's the way it should be. That's the way sports evolve and get better. You know, for me, I feel like I can play at that level. I feel like I've at times been at that level, so it's just a matter of week in and week out putting it on the line, sort of proving it as you have to do as a top player.

Q. Do you think there's some kind of either deference or stepping back from either Jennifer or Lindsay or Kim? Is there a sense that the Williamses are really in a dominant position?

CHANDA RUBIN: Well, right now they are. There are cycles that sports I think at times go through. But I think Jennifer has had some great matches with Serena. I don't remember the last time she played Venus. Didn't seem like she was taking a step back or just conceding. Kim I know goes out and just plays and competes. She wins or loses, basically the same way, but you know she's going to be in there competing. There are a couple of other players in that group, as well. We'll have to see, you know, who really steps up. I mean, it's hard to really just get that win. It's great you play very well, you play a great match, but it's actually win, and win on the big stages, it's a whole 'nother ballgame.

Q. When was the next time you were in the locker room, in a tournament locker room? Was it here? Did you play New Haven?

CHANDA RUBIN: I played Canada. I was in the locker room at the next couple matches.

Q. I'm wondering the reaction of your fellow players was. There's talk of ganging up on them.

CHANDA RUBIN: You sort of hear that. I think, you know, that's all fine and good. That's not my mentality or attitude at all. But I do look at it as a challenge, as a player. You accept that challenge, whether it was Venus or Serena at the top or Jennifer dominating or Martina Hingis. That's the challenge that as a player and a competitor, if you feel you can play with the best, you accept that challenge. I think that's what it's all about. That's what the sport is about.

Q. Are more players coming up to you and saying great match?

CHANDA RUBIN: A lot of players telling me congratulations, just for the week and winning. I didn't get a whole lot after that, after playing Serena, because I was in the quarters, and I had two more matches. I didn't get a whole lot of, "Oh, great, you beat her, you beat Serena." It was just more at the end of the week, you know, a number of players just congratulating me, you know, happy for me to see me back, you know, see me win. At least they told me that.

Q. Tell me about your wild times during your junior years with your good friend Lindsay. I understand you used to be together quite a bit.

CHANDA RUBIN: We were together a lot, yes, a whole lot of times. I had just turned pro, she ended up turning pro maybe half a year later. We started traveling together to, you know, tournaments, playing doubles every week, rooming together. We had a lot of weeks, the USTA coach at the time, Lynne Rolley, the national coach working with us during those traveling weeks most of the time. We spent so much time together. It probably was enough to last us a lifetime. We don't spend as much time now. You know, it was just a period of time. It was definitely a really good period, you know, a period of just learning, growth. We were both, you know, trying to move up and explore, expand, you know, our games, see what we'd be able to do out here.

Q. Do you think inch for inch Chanda Rubin is the best server in women's tennis?

CHANDA RUBIN: I never thought about that. I mean, maybe for not being 6'2", I serve okay. I mean, it would definitely be nice to have a couple more inches. Got to work with what you have.

Q. Your serve has improved, it seems.

CHANDA RUBIN: It has. Still that's a part that I need to improve on a little more, you know, especially at key times in matches and as I get into better and better -- playing better and better players. That's the area of my game I really have to focus on a little more, higher percentage of first serves and better placement. Sometimes I try to go for the power, and it's not there at my height.

End of FastScripts….

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