September 27, 1998
RANDY WALKER: Attention, press, Jan-Michael Gambill today broke a US Davis Cup record today. He signed 257 autographs following the match today.
Q. What do you think America has to do to have the best players in Davis Cup, the best promotion for tennis in Davis Cup and I don't know, do you think it is enough to put the best young player and the hope that growing up they would be the --
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Right, that is a good question. Well, certainly you want the best players to play. There is no question about it. We have all worked very hard to try to get the best players to play. It is not easy. I can certainly only worry about the players who are here, who are really committed and I think it was a great opportunity this week for Jan-Michael and Justin to gain some great experience and they played, I thought, a lot of good tennis. I was very impressed with a lot of the tennis that our rookies played this weekend. With two solid veterans, like Todd Martin and Jim Courier, I thought we could get through this tie. But I think the Italians played better than I expected them to play and the court surface, I think went in their favor. I think we needed a faster court. I think those were the major factors.
Q. What happened with the court, I mean, did you just --
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I would like to say there were six tiebreakers and the Italians played the tiebreakers better than the Americans did, period. That is why they won. Gaudenzi beat me in two tiebreakers and tiebreaker yesterday and Todd lost a tiebreaker and Gimelstob -- it was a lot of tiebreakers, and us zero. I think that dictated a lot of the play. We will have to work on those key points there.
Q. The court surface not turned out how it was ex -- how did it end up so slow?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, that is a good question. I asked the players kind of what speed the court and they wanted like a medium-paced court with a high bounce and we ended up getting slow court with a low bounce. So it was a different court than I was expecting, really.
Q. Not to take anything away from the effort that you guys put out, but I mean, are there any bitter feelings about the fact that Sampras and Agassi and Michael Chang, you know, turned down the opportunity to play for the US, will that impact future invitations?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, you know, recruiting is very difficult, I will say that. It really has to come from their heart more than anywhere. They have to really want to play for their country. They have to feel the passion of it and kind of hopefully enjoy the team experience. One of my key goals as captain is to try to make every Davis Cup week a really positive experience for the players, win or lose. And try to create a good atmosphere where the guys are working hard and they are positive and give them their best opportunity to play their best tennis. I think we do a very good job of that. We got a great staff, the USTA staff, people assigned to Davis Cup are terrific. Our support team is better than any other support team in Davis Cup, I am sure and I think we create a good atmosphere for the guys. Sure, it is frustrating that some of the top players aren't here and they are missing out period.
Q. You say that it comes from the heart. The problem is the heart of the No. 1 tennis player in the world is very different from the heart of the No. 30 in the world.
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Correct.
Q. Because this is an individual sport that once in a while it turns to be a team sport, it is a difficult combination?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: That is not always true. How many times did John McEnroe play for our country?
Q. One year he say no. He played a lot, but one year he said no.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Well, yeah, I mean, but it is individual, I don't think it is just because he is No. 1.
Q. But you didn't have No. 1 in the world.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Exactly, that is the reason. That is exactly what I was saying. All of those men have played.
Q. How many times Jimmy Connors played?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Not very much.
Q. What is different now? They have all played in the past. They have all had it in their heart in the past; wanted to play for the US. Have they gotten too big for it or what is your feeling?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, certainly and I know in talking to Pete Sampras this year his individual goals are very important to him, setting the Grand Slam record and finishing No. 1 in the world. I think getting hurt in the finals of Davis Cup last year left a bad taste in his mouth, certainly wasn't Davis Cup's fault, but he happened to get hurt in Davis Cup and, you know, I think that kind of sums it up. Also I think in regarding Pete in 1995, we won it and he played three out of the four Ties and he probably put on one of the greatest performances in Davis Cup history in the Finals against Russia winning both his matches on the red clay and then coming into the doubles and winning with Todd Martin. He won those three points. And in any other country he would be a big hero. He comes back to the States and nobody knows, nobody cares. So, you know, he certainly is not the type of guy who would expect a ticket-tape parade down Madison Avenue in New York or something, but he was a little disappointed that nobody cared about that, that effort. I am sure that may have an impact on his thinking a little bit as well.
Q. Were you at all unhappy with the support here in Milwaukee, the half two more than half empty stadium and the fact I think Justin made a joke about it during the press conference following his match today, they had to hush the fans who were watching the Packer game out in the hallways who were cheering louder for that than they were for the tennis.
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, well, I thought the fans over here did a good job personally. I don't know how Jan-Michael, you may talk to that more than me. But I thought they the people who were here supported very well. It is just unfortunate that we didn't fill it up. I thought the crowd certainly in the doubles match yesterday was great and it was a good crowd and it was a great match. So I thought they certainly got their monies worth really all three days, I felt because the matches were all very competitive.
Q. Jan-Michael, obviously today's match didn't count in terms of the result for the weekend, but it did give you your first Davis Cup win. How is your experience here overall?
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Well, it does count in the record, my Davis Cup record. My first Davis Cup and obviously my first match, I was a little nervous; didn't play up to my potential. Today I really groundstroked very well and he is an incredible groundstroker; hits the ball real well and digs a lot of balls out and makes you play. I really groundstrokeed well today. Couldn't have served worse than in the first two sets and except for my second serve kicking pretty high and doing pretty well with that. First serve-wise started picking up in the third set and very happy with the way I played. Don't know how hard Sanguinetti partied last night.
Q. He claimed not to have.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: But he seemed to be in pretty good shape out there and it was just a well hard fought match for both of us and glad to come out in the do for one for the US.
Q. How important was it to -- (inaudible) --
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: Every match I play is always important to me and it is even more important when I am playing for the US. I don't care that we already lost the match. I am going out there and thinking about next year, you know, going out and now I have got two matches under my belt. I am no longer the rookie when I come out next year and I will be playing -- hopefully if I have a chance to play I will be playing well.
Q. Did you feel that you were able to keep your concentration even in the three-set match and the crowd is a little more subdued today?
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: They were a little bit. They got into it a little bit. It is to be expected. We did lose and so it was commendable for them to be out there. I think they did a great job.
Q. Tom, could you just talk about performance of both players today.
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I think Justin and I and Jan-Michael yesterday in the training room were talking about the importance of these matches today for us as a team and for them individually and I think, you know, to get the experience of playing a Davis Cup match, whether it is a dead rubber or not, is a good experience and certainly to get a win is very important and now Jan-Michael has got two matches under his belt; Justin has two matches under his belt and hopefully the next time they play, you know, nerves won't be a big factor because they have had this experience. You have got to start some time and this was a good time to start really.
Q. Do you see them obviously being in the mix next year or whatever teams that you are going to put together?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, certainly, you know, both Justin and Jan-Michael have indicated that they love playing for the country and hopefully they will be available next year and really want to play and obviously our first match next year isn't until April, so we have got plenty of time to look at the schedules, see who we play and hopefully field a very strong team.
Q. Is that kind of -- we don't raise players to play for their country here. So they don't come into the pros thinking that that is a responsibility or of interest. You might have, but --
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I just like to say that it has always been my dream to play for my country in Davis Cup and I am always going to support Tom and I am always going to support my country and then -- no matter what. That is just how I think. It is unfortunate that some of the other guys don't think that way, whatever their reasons are, but I am always going to.
Q. What do you think IS first in your mind, winning the Davis Cup or winning Wimbledon, for example if you have the choice?
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: It would never be Wimbledon in the first place. It would be the US Open.
PAGE CROSLAND: Getting back to this question, Tom is Director of Coaching for Player Development. He can respond to this question as well.
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, part of our -- one of our goals in their new USA Tennis Player Development Program is to teach the kids something about the history of the game, not just forehands, backhands and tactics, but how important Davis Cup is in the history of United States tennis. We have won the Davis Cup more than any other country, 31 times, I believe. So Davis Cup is an important part of American tennis heritage and certainly when our young players represent the United States in team competition from the 14-and-unders all the way through the Wimbledon, juniors and those big junior events, you know, we will really stress the fact that it a great honor to play for your country. You should represent yourself, your family and your country really well and hopefully your goal will be playing Davis Cup some day like Jan-Michael said and for the girls Federation Cup. So we are going to try to teach a little more history so to speak to our young players coming up.
Q. I think it is something in the country because just to make a little example, probably stupid, but we were more Italian journalists here than US journalists when the United States were in Russia playing the final. And Italian papers are not richer than the American papers, but still I mean, the feeling in Italy of the national team is much stronger than USA, probably because your country is so great, so used to win and things like that.
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Exactly.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I think it also has to do with we have a lot, a lot of support for so many sports in the US and --
Q. You, but you don't have a national team in American football, in baseball, for example. That give a sense --
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: We have got 30 of them in football.
Q. When you have soccer national team in Italy, it is --
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: It is going to be up to the players from the US to support Davis Cup and to generate more interest for it. We can do that. It can happen and it is commendable for you guys to have so many reporters here. It is very exciting for you to win it and to be in the finals. But there is no reason that in the US Davis Cup can't be more popular.
Q. But it is not so far.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: But it can be.
Q. Good luck.
PAGE CROSLAND: Any other questions for either?
Q. I assume Tom that you are interested in maintaining this role for 1999?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It is not my decision.
Q. If it was yours, is that something --
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Sure, to me it is a great honor to be the captain and I enjoy every match, win or lose, and to me, it is every year that I am the captain it is the most proud moment of my year to represent the United States as captain.
Q. You have A pretty hard job. Has some of this turmoil in the last few months, to say the least, dampened any enthusiasm that you have?
CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No, not really. It is part of the job. Things don't always go smoothly. Sometimes you lose when you think you are going to win; sometimes, you know, players who we think should be playing aren't playing and, you know, that is the way it is. That is why when we get back to it maybe and win it the next time, it will make it all that much sweeter remembering the harder times.
JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL: I'd like to say that there is definitely no one that -- nobody probably better than Tom creating a team atmosphere. The first time I came and was hitting partner in Atlanta I felt like I was part of the team right away. Because of Tom, he does a great job and that is just my input.
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