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July 12, 1999

Tom Gullikson


Q. They're calling this one of the greatest Finals in history.

TOM GULLIKSON: It wasn't a great Final. It wasn't that close.

Q. But, individually, I'm talking about.

TOM GULLIKSON: Individual performance, great performance against Agassi, the top player in the world. That was a pretty big occasion.

Q. Have you finalized in your mind who's going to be playing Friday?

TOM GULLIKSON: Pete, obviously, just gave a pretty strong commentary on how he kind of wanted to come out to the team, and I think it's pretty amazing that he could be so humble as to come on the team and say he wants to play doubles. He knows Todd and Jim have the single spots, because he feels that they've been more committed than he has over the years. And, of course, Davis Cups, which they have. Circumstances do change, but I think what you heard from Pete was his honest opinion about the way it should work. It's something he truly believes, unless the other four guys physically throw him on to the court, I don't know if he'll be playing singles unless, like he said, one of the guys got hurt.

Q. What do you think about the Australian Club, especially with the injuries that have happened?

TOM GULLIKSON: It was very unfortunate for Philippoussis to get injured the way he did at Wimbledon. He was playing great. Obviously, Pete was in for a real battle that day. I think for the Australian team and certainly really for the tie, it's close because he's a great player and he's a great personality in tennis. He would have made their team probably stronger. That being said, I think the Australians are a very kind of tough, rugged team, and they have a lot of character. And Lleyton Hewitt is the best young player in the world. He's about 18 years old, I think. He's what, 31 in the world or something? He's ranked pretty high. He's had a good year. I know he's beaten both Rafter and Philippoussis.

Q. And Sampras at Queens?

TOM GULLIKSON: He beat Agassi one year, lost to Sampras in the third set tie break at Queens. So, obviously, the kid is a real threat. He's going to be pretty pumped up, I'm sure.

Q. With the injuries, has that changed in your mind what your strategy is? Or are you just going to go as-is?

TOM GULLIKSON: You've got to prepare your team to play their best tennis, and we certainly have a great deal of respect for all the Australian players. But we can't really veer ourselves to playing certain players. We have to get our guys ready to play their best tennis. Certainly, they're very well aware of the Australian's strengths and weaknesses. We'll try to formulate a game plan to go at those weaknesses. But we just want to prepare well. It's a fun week, there is a lot of camaraderie between the players, enjoying each other's company off the court and just getting ready to represent the country well.

Q. (Inaudible) Considering what you've had to go through with the roster, how is the chemistry?

TOM GULLIKSON: The chemistry's great. I think all the guys are really pumped that Pete had a change of heart and wanted to be part of it. I think, as he suggested, I think the tie in Burmingham not only inspired Pete, but I think it inspired American tennis in general. I mean inspired Pete to kind of change in heart and come back on the team, and then inspired Andre to play his tennis at the French Open, and Andre inspired Todd and Jim by what he did at the French. And then Lindsay Davenport on the women's side winning Wimbledon and playing great, it's a great moment for American tennis right now. I think, from my perspective as Davis Cup Captain and Director of Coaching for the USTA, we have to keep this momentum going. I think it's important for us to win this tie to keep the tennis momentum in this country going.

Q. Pete said he only sees himself playing singles if somebody gets hurt. How do you see that?

TOM GULLIKSON: He's the guy that's got to go play. I don't want to force him to play. Obviously what he just said to you guys is how he strongly feels. And we'll probably have a little team discussion very shortly about the whole thing and just get all the opinions out on the table.

Q. How tough is it, you know, being that you have the No. 1 player in the world? It's almost, in baseball terms, like the Red Sox getting Ken Griffey and telling him he's going to be a defensive replacement.

TOM GULLIKSON: I'm just happy he's on the team. You have to start somewhere. Where we go from there, who knows how it's going to all turn out in the end? But I'm glad he had a change in heart, and I'm glad he wants to be part of it again.

Q. You have to be comfortable with Pete, Tom and Jim coming off real good Wimbledons, and probably Jim, with the most revitalization he's had in his career. Talk about that.

TOM GULLIKSON: Courier's playing great tennis. What he did in Burmingham, beating two Top Ten players indoors on their best surface against a hostile crowd, that inspired a lot of people. Jim is healthy, that's number 1; he's eager again, number 2; and he's much more confident now. He really feels he's on the rise, and who knows what number he can get to. I don't think that's really important to him at this stage. He just knows he's enjoying himself. His game is moving in the right direction.

Q. Can you talk about what lead you to ask Jim to be... (Inaudible)

TOM GULLIKSON: Thomas Blake. I mean James Blake, sorry.

Q. James Blake.

TOM GULLIKSON: First of all, he's from Harvard here. And the Harvard guys started off 100 years ago, and we figured maybe James could help us start the next 100 years right. Those Harvard guys did us pretty good the first 100 years. James, quite simply, I feel is one of the most talented young American players we have. And in keeping with some of our goals for the program, we want our most talented young players to get the exposure hitting with Courier, Sampras, being a part of this Davis Cup atmosphere. Obviously from playing college tennis two years, he knows what it's like to be on a team, but this is obviously a little higher intensity, much higher level than the Harvard University, with all due respect.

Q. Did he talk to you about turning pro, which he did last week?

TOM GULLIKSON: Yes, he did. He did.

Q. Okay.

TOM GULLIKSON: Thanks, gentlemen, ladies.

End of FastScripts....

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