March 24, 1997
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
GREG SHARKO: First question for Jim.
Q. The last few games you were volleying, looked very comfortable volleying. That's the most I've seen you volley in that situation in a match and the most comfortable I've seen you look. What do you think explains that? Was it a conscious decision to come to the net? Have you been working a lot on your volley?
JIM COURIER: It was a conscious decision today because I was effective at it. I serve and volleyed quite a bit early in the match. I can't remember losing a point serve and volleying, so if you're having that much success, it seems like it's logical to keep coming in.
Q. When was the last time you have serve and volleyed that much?
JIM COURIER: I can't remember.
Q. Do you expect to do it more in the future?
JIM COURIER: If the situation warrants it, yeah.
Q. Do you feel more comfortable at the net than you used to?
JIM COURIER: That's day-to-day. Volleys kind of come and go for me. Hopefully they'll be better and better. You have to change it up against guys. If they know what you're going to do, you're in trouble.
Q. Jim, down 1-4 in the third. I believe you tossed your racquet towards the chair. Seemed like you got it together after that. Take me through that, what you were feeling at 1-4?
JIM COURIER: 1-4, I'm down one service break. If I toss my racquet, I'm not throwing it in; I'm just releasing some tension and hoping to go on to the next game. I played an okay game at 1-4 to get through, then I picked my game up at 4-2. That's when I really turned it around.
Q. That's what it looked like, looked like you felt better after that.
JIM COURIER: Yeah. I started playing a little bit better. Just cut down the unforced errors, which were killing me, in the match. I played the ball a lot deeper and waited for the right shot. Before that in the third set I really wasn't waiting for the right shot. I was just trying to hit a winner from anywhere I was on the court, rather than trying to set the point up. I'm not feeling confident enough yet to go for winners all the time. I have to grind through matches like today to get that confidence.
Q. How important is it to you to get back to a level where you can compete to win a major?
JIM COURIER: Well, I think I'm at that level.
Q. Does that have something to do with Solomon coaching you now? Does that help?
JIM COURIER: Well, Harold certainly is helping me, there's no question. We're still very early in our relationship. Talking about this kind of thing is like me asking you, "How is your marriage?"
Q. Pretty good.
JIM COURIER: Mine is pretty good, too, with Harold. What we have basically is a marriage. It's something that's constantly developing and changing and moving. We're still trying to get the feel for one another.
Q. Why did you change coaches?
JIM COURIER: Well, Jose and I have been working together, Jose Higueras and I have been working together for a long time. I think we both ran out of different ways to look at the situation. It was just apparent that we became a little bit stale. It was just time for me to have a different point of view. I think for him as well. When you're together for that long, you kind of run the gamut of everything. You've come across every situation. I got to the point where I was predictable for him and he was predictable for me. There was no more spontaneity. I knew what he was going to say in each situation. He knew how I would react to that. He couldn't fool me anymore, which is what coaches have to do a lot of the times.
Q. What kind of points of view does Harold bring now?
JIM COURIER: Harold is Harold and Jose is Jose. They have had different experiences on the Tour. I think Harold, he's a very heady guy. That's obviously something that I have needed in recent years, to be a little bit more heady on the court. Maybe I can get it through osmosis with Harold.
Q. You're a pretty heady guy off the court. Do you think you're a potentially heady guy on the court, you just need the coaching?
JIM COURIER: Well, thank you. Maybe I have you guys smoke screened into thinking I'm heady. Sometimes on the court the emotions come a little bit more stronger than the thinking process. A lot of times that's been something I've had to deal with. It all depends. When you're winning matches and you're rolling, the sun shines day and night. When things aren't going so well, that's when you need to be heady and you need to be aware of winning matches when you're not playing your best tennis. Clearly today I didn't play my best tennis, but I used my brain in the end to win the match. That's very satisfying.
Q. How good do you think Draper's backhand is? Do you think it's one of the best on the Tour?
JIM COURIER: Consider that I played it almost exclusively before two down, I think it's probably not one of the best on the Tour. It's a good shot for him, but I was effective hitting it there.
Q. You had done an extraordinary amount of traveling, running to Philadelphia. I'm wondering, have you sort of recharged from that? Are you still feeling the effects of your earlier schedule?
JIM COURIER: I think I feel okay now. Clearly it wasn't the schedule I intended to have. You play what you play. My schedule looks good from here out the rest of the year. I feel okay now. I had to do it. I had no choice.
Q. How does your schedule run through Europe, Jim? Which clay are you playing?
JIM COURIER: Well, I'm entered in Barcelona and Monte-Carlo. I somehow got designated there. I'm not sure how that happened. I'm not going to be playing clearly in Barcelona. I'll be pulling out with an injury on the Friday before, just to let you guys know beforehand, because I'm playing Davis Cup for the United States. Had I not been picked for Davis Cup, I would have gone to play those events. As to whether I'm going to play Monte-Carlo, it's hard to say. Actually I wanted to play Orlando and stay in America. I am playing in Atlanta. But the ATP won't let me play the same week as Monte-Carlo, because I had gotten designated there. I guess that's some kind of a rule. It kind of sucks when you're not allowed to play in your own country, when you're getting penalized for playing Davis Cup both ways.
Q. Do you have any form of appeal on that?
JIM COURIER: There's nothing you can do. They'll fine me, I don't know, $50,000, $25,000 if I play, whatever.
Q. How did you manage to get designated without knowing?
JIM COURIER: It's a mystery to me. I don't know. It's probably a foul up between myself and my agent and the ATP. Ultimately I'm responsible for it, but it's a mystery to me how it happened. I got Atlanta for sure and Rome for sure. I will be there. If you see any advertising for me in Barcelona, don't be surprised when my ankle gets mysteriously rolled in practice on the Friday before.
Q. Back for the Heat playoffs?
JIM COURIER: Will I be back? Well, I hope so.
Q. What about between Paris and Wimbledon, Jim?
JIM COURIER: Nothing.
Q. Come back here?
JIM COURIER: Probably.
Q. Usually do.
JIM COURIER: Yeah, I'll be back in the States for sure.
Q. Has the move to Fisher Island been a plus as far as this tournament?
JIM COURIER: Yeah. I've had the place now for coming up on four years.
Q. Are you living here more full-time now?
JIM COURIER: Yeah. I'm not splitting as much time now. It's nice to be home. I wish we had more home matches. That's life.
Q. Do you ever think about what you want to do after you're done playing tennis?
JIM COURIER: No.
Q. Jim, this is a question for a survey for Roland Garros magazine, the French Open program. If you had not had the chance to become a professional sportsman, what kind of job would you have liked to do?
JIM COURIER: Huh? The most noble job I could think of would probably be a tennis reporter.
Q. We knew you were heady.
JIM COURIER: Free food, you know, pretty good. Get a nice badge.
Q. If you get by the next Davis Cup match, and if you are asked to play, would you quit that and make that a priority to play the next semifinals and finals?
JIM COURIER: Absolutely. I didn't go to Brazil to not play.
JIM COURIER: Well, because Davis Cup is important for me. There's been times in my career where I've chosen not to play. Looking back on the times that I have played Davis Cup, they've been special moments for me. I mean, frankly, I'm at a point in my career where I don't need to play for the money, I don't need to play a small tournament in lieu of Davis Cup. I'd rather play the bigger matches. The Davis Cup matches are matches that I will always remember. I remember every Davis Cup match I've played, good and bad. That's what I'm playing for now, is to play big matches. The more big matches I can play, the better.
Q. Is there one overriding thing that appeals to you about Davis Cup?
JIM COURIER: They're big matches. It's a team competition. I get to have a week with the guys, it's a lot of fun. It's very intense, high pressure. I love it.
Q. How much is the absence of team atmosphere a detriment in this sport, do you think?
JIM COURIER: Makes it tougher, I think. If we were playing a team sport, I think you'd see guys play a lot longer. I think you'd see Stefan not being tired of it and carrying on. You see team sports, a guy like -- these guys in basketball, for example, playing till they're 37, 38 years old. They can play less minutes, whatever. They can be cagey veterans. In tennis you're exposed, your weaknesses are fully exposed at that age.
Q. Is basketball your favorite sport outside of tennis?
JIM COURIER: I like basketball a lot. I like baseball as well. I like golf, beach volleyball, putt-putt.
Q. Anything else for Jim?
JIM COURIER: Getting back to Harold. We local people remember the long afternoons with Harold and Eddie two yards behind the baseline. They still happen about three times a week.
Q. One wonders what a coach like that brings to your game.
JIM COURIER: Well, you have to keep wondering. What Harold and I do -- earlier in my career you guys would ask me those questions and I would say, "We're working on my backhand, backhand slice, my volley and my overhead." The other players in the locker room would go, "huh he can't hit the backhand slice, backhand or overhead." What we work on is what we work on. If you can pay attention and watch what I'm doing in the match, see a difference, maybe you'll pick up on what we're doing. Hopefully it will be apparent.
Q. Jim, when you're looking for a coach, do you look at who they worked with in the past or are you more interested in your chemistry with them, more based on conversations you've had? You're basically doing an interview process when you're looking for them, right?
JIM COURIER: I've only had a couple of coaches. For me it's always been -- I look for a guy who I think, first of all, I respect as a coach, and I will respect his opinion exclusively. That's the No. 1 thing. After that, then it does come down to chemistry. It comes down to whether he wants to do it, too. The No. 1 thing for me is respecting the person's opinion.
Q. When you appoint a new coach, how much is that going to be a mechanic on your shots and how much is he going to be a motivator?
JIM COURIER: A little bit of both, a little bit of both.
Q. Jim, when exactly did he become your coach?
JIM COURIER: In October.
Q. How much fun was it to play that Nike Cup in December at Madison Square Garden?
JIM COURIER: It was a lot of fun. I hadn't played in the Garden before. I like to play. Actually, I know we're going to have another one. I don't know if it's going to be in New York. I've actually been playing phone tag with Rosemary Gullikson, saying we were going to have another one, asked if I would do it. Of course, I love to do it. I love not only the cause, but I enjoyed the different style, playing with the clock and everything. I think we'll be better the second time around.
Q. Were you surprised at the level McEnroe was able to play at?
JIM COURIER: We gave it to him (laughter). Make the old man feel good.
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