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August 14, 1996

Luke Jensen


Q. Considering how well you did against Andre and how you played today, do you have any thoughts to playing more singles?

LUKE JENSEN: I mean, that's always been my -- never really gave up on singles. I wasn't qualifying for my matches. Really, I made a decision that I wanted to stay in the show, that I was going to be playing main draw doubles and qualifying singles, if I get a wildcard in the singles. I really didn't want to go down and play in the minor leagues and play in the South Africas and South Americas and play satellites, take public transportation. It's pretty nice taking a Mercedes Benz around the hotel and things. Either go down to the pits and grind it out or try to take my chances in the big show, so that's what I've done. Now since '93, a lot of our doubles success, I'm able to get in tournaments like this, San Jose, different tournaments around the world where the tournament directors give me an opportunity to play. It's good because I know I can be competitive, go out there and play tennis, sell tickets, get the fans fired up and get some wins. I know it's tough for the tournament director because a lot of people question, Why you putting Luke Jensen, what about an up-and-comer, what about a local guy? It's nice to be out there and be so close and even get some wins, very positive.

Q. Describe emotionally in the third set (inaudible)? You really had him on the ropes.

LUKE JENSEN: That's where you want to be. Anytime I feel I can get 3-All in each set, then I start letting the other guy think about it. Boy, it's a couple of shots. I'm going to be aggressive no matter what. He can't keep me on the baseline no matter who I play. If they give me a second serve, I'm going to smash and crash. It's a winner or an error. They have no control. That causes double faults, causes anybody to get nervous. I think what happened today, he had a much bigger serve than Andre when I played him in Memphis and he could get a lot more free points. There's no better feeling in the world than being right there in the thick of a match when you're playing against the Wimbledon champion. Basically had the whole crowd on your side, kids going crazy. You dream about those things.

Q. Would it be fair to say your doubles play is why you look so comfortable at the net?

LUKE JENSEN: Absolutely. Not just at the net, but playing against Krajicek and Agassi and the top players in the world. I see these guys every week, I commentate their matches. I'm with them every week. It's not that I'm a guy who is normally 300 or 350 in the world looking, Oh my God, this is Richard Krajicek and he's got a good serve, never seen it before, how does he hit his shots? I have a pretty thorough scouting report on Krajicek, a lot of the players. When I get to the matches, I don't feel intimidated. It's still pretty intimidating that you're out there and you're playing against a guy who is serving consistently at over 120 miles an hour, but that's fear of the shot, not fear of the mystique.

Q. You beat Andre earlier this year and you take Krajicek right to the brink today. Does it kind of annoy you you don't come up with these types of performances more consistently?

LUKE JENSEN: It really does. It really hacks me off that I can't win more top ten matches. Actually it was --

Q. Not only top ten matches, but other matches against guys.

LUKE JENSEN: Sure, it's hard work, getting out there, being consistent. My game isn't going to be one that is steady all the way through like a lot of guys play today. I'm going to have my big wins and I'm going to have some bad losses. I take a lot of chances, gamble a lot on the court. Sometimes I come up big, sometimes I don't. I mean, Krajicek knew going out today that I was going to get the crowd into it. Guys know when they play the Jensens, it's going to be a little different, going to be pretty upside down. It's not just intimidating for us playing against those guys, it's also kind of different for them because it's not your typical go out for your second round match and hit some serves and have fun. We're going to go out there and light it up a little bit.

Q. You'll never change the way you play?

LUKE JENSEN: Absolutely not. I mean, I can't play from the baseline. I can't play without emotion. It's just the way I am. I've always played that way. I've always said I'm a football player playing tennis. That's the kind of mentality that I've always played with. I tried to be mellow, try to play by the rules, I guess, the tennis tradition. It really doesn't work. I've got to be going crazy, getting the crowd into it. It's a great arena to play when the house is going nuts.

Q. Considering that, what do you need to (inaudible)?

LUKE JENSEN: Improve my footwork, if I can improve my serve, get a few more shots. Krajicek was hitting aces when he needed them, giving easy free points. I didn't really get too many aces. He was making me play a lot of first volleys. I had to play a lot harder on my serve and work harder on my return. Get the ball back one or two more times, that's the difference in the match.

Q. I heard somebody in the crowd comment on how much they liked seeing you sprawl for that point I think in the tiebreak when your body mark had to be wiped off. Should players dive more in tennis?

LUKE JENSEN: It's not really recommended. Grass you'll see it more often. Not too bad to hit the turf. I think of course Becker is known for that type of play, Yannick Noah did it a lot. That's just the way I play. If I can't run to a ball and dive to it, if I miss it, I miss it. I just hope I dive the right way. Sometimes I dive for passing shots and the passing shot goes one way, I'm actually diving the opposite way. That's kind of embarrassing.

Q. Blood today?

LUKE JENSEN: No blood today.

Q. How do you handle the tension when you get into a tiebreak? Do you think calmly and you're screaming inside?

LUKE JENSEN: What I have to say to myself is I love this position. You get into overtime, it's where you want to be. You have to let it all hang out, play to win. If you let the ball play you, if you play to lose, if you play scared, you're going to lose and you're not going to enjoy it. I thoroughly enjoyed that match out there, even though I lost. I went for my shots, I went for every ball. I went for it. I mean, I'm going to be very happy tonight. I have a doubles match coming up. You go for it. I'll tell any junior player when you get in those situations, go for it. It's fun to be in the locker room, a lot of the legends are here, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, a lot of guys talking to them, BJ Amritraj about the match today, just go out there and have fun, go for your shots. Get into a tiebreaker in the third, you can't get any closer. It's great, a lot of fun.

Q. (Inaudible).

LUKE JENSEN: Actually I've been here more than three years. I think I've been coming here since '90, Stratton Mountain before that. I just love this tournament because Jim Westhall does such a great job of putting it on in the sense where the volunteers are fired up for us to be here, always trying to make everyone feel at home. There's always the street fest that's really surrounding the tournament, go down and meet the locals. They come out to the tennis matches and support you. Lots of things to do on the east coast, who the I and the blow fish concert going on tonight. Sometimes I like to play rock'n roll. So many things going on, just a great atmosphere. The people get into it, they expect great tennis, they expect you to dive and go for it. The field is really good. Not just an American field. You see a lot of the Euro boys, a lot of guys from Australia coming here. It's a very balanced field, a very fair court, too. You can serve and volley, you can serve and stay back. Wherever you go, everyone's happy you're here, you know, fired up to give you a good week of tennis.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LUKE JENSEN: Actually sweating through my shoes. I was losing my shoes. Had to go get more shoes out of my locker. When it's really humid out, I'll start sweating through my shoes, then it's hard to grip the court, I'll slide a little bit. I just switched.

Q. Is it to a point where singles is more fun than doubles?

LUKE JENSEN: Winning is fun, any way you can win. Mixed doubles, lot of success in mixed doubles so far this year. Playing well with Murphy and then playing the game of tennis. All aspects is a lot of fun to me. A lot of fun to help grow the game in the sense we're working with kids, working with the ATP to make it more popular. It's just fun being a professional tennis player. Get on the single's court, get the opportunity from Jim Westhall, prove that the Agassi win wasn't a fluke, that actually his right arm wasn't as fractured as it really was. But it's just -- every time I step on the courts, I want to play good tennis and show everybody that I enjoy playing, get everyone involved. It's fun.

Q. First mini break and the last tiebreak, you had backhand volley. A little pumped up there?

LUKE JENSEN: I think actually I should have spanked it. What I did was I kind of massaged it cross court instead of really putting some juice on it. It was awkward because he had shanked it high. It was too low for me to switch hands, he's a lefty. I just tried to play deep. It was a little too much. Then it was really downhill from there because he hit a solid return. From 3-Love down, you just stick a fork in me. I was dead.

Q. Going out tonight?

LUKE JENSEN: I've got to work. I'm doing the ESPN 2. Going to get that place rocking tonight. I don't even know who is playing. Do my homework.

Q. I know you're aware you have a following. Were you surprised?

LUKE JENSEN: They come out every year. Usually we play the Midnight Madness matches where we play second after 7:30 after the singles. Anytime that a player -- if you remember watching Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, they had a big following because they interacted with the crowd. Anytime you put up a high five, they go crazy, get them involved, get them on your side, they react to it. For some reason tennis is such a game where it's the fan and then there's this big space. The players are so untouchable. I like to feel that the crowd is about to jump the fences and go on the court anytime in the match, start throwing things. You go to Italy, they throw coins and bottles. In South America, they blow horns. It's out of control. They'll sing songs. That's the kind of crowd I like. It's a lot of fun. That's why the east coast is so much fun to play. Come to the US Open, people are just going nuts, you know, a few too many to drink, here come the Jensen brothers.

Q. Why do you think some of the other players don't interact with the crowd or seem to have any fun out there?

LUKE JENSEN: I just think they take everything too serious. I think they don't see the big picture, not only is it a fun game that they should enjoy what they do, they put so much pressure on themselves to win and to perform that it takes away from their performance. They don't play as well. Fans want autographs, fans want to see that emotion, see you get into it. It helps grow the game. Kids don't want to see something boring. If you look at all the sports that are doing well, NBA is very interactive with the crowd, big time wrestling, it's a fix, it's a fix. They get into it with the crowd and the people go nuts. You can't help but watch on TV. You know it's fixed, but you still watch it. It's unbelievable. The same in tennis, it's just you're told to be quiet, you're told to sit down, told to do everything opposite of getting fired up more. Andre Agassi killed the whole music idea before it even lifted off. That's kind of upsetting because I thought it was a great idea. It was kind of loud that year on the changeovers, but Jim Westhall is trying to promote the game of tennis and Andre is reaping the benefits, getting big dollars, so he should be able to play through anything. If Jim wants us to play in snow, I'll play in snow, or rain, I don't care. I wish guys would lighten up and get into it a little bit more.

Q. You're not the first tennis player to express this. It seems like every generation has. Why has nobody been able to change the attitude?

LUKE JENSEN: Well, actually I feel before when they had to sell the game of tennis, Arthur Ashe did it in a certain way, Arthur Ashe used to go to places and give interviews. Press used to hardly ever come to tournaments. Stan Smith, these guys weren't very outgoing guys, but they were very positive for the game of tennis and grew the game. They had to play singles, they had to play doubles, because the money wasn't there. I think a lot of guys now, because the money is so good, they've been able to just concentrate on their tennis, and the other things just kind of happen. They feel -- I think a lot of guys feel that's the ATP's job to market the game, when actually we are the ATP. A player organization with the tournament directors like Jim Westhall, if we can work together to get the kids more involved, get the media more involved, get the sponsors like Pilot Penn more fired up about the game of tennis, only going to mean more money for us in the long run. We should be worried about tennis 20 years from now. Arthur Ashe was, Stan Smith was. We're reaping the benefits. It's a great game.

JOE LYNCH: One more question for Luke who has a doubles match and probably will be available after that.

Q. What did you think about Krajicek's game?

LUKE JENSEN: Those wooden shoes. Thought you'd get some blisters playing on the hardcourts. Amazing how the Dutch can play with those wooden shoes on. I'm very impressed. I tried it a couple times, but I keep moving forward. The windmills they live over there, they're air conditioned. I think they're getting pampered a little bit. Thanks, everybody.

End of FastScripts….

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