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September 10, 1998

Tom Gullikson


PAGE CROSLAND: Good morning. I want to introduce our esteemed US Davis Cup Captain to make a very important announcement, Tom Gullikson.

TOM GULLIKSON: Thank you. Thanks for joining us this morning. I didn't really realize there was this much interest in Senior Doubles here at the US Open, but we appreciate your support (laughter). I did come here today to announce our US Davis Cup team for the semifinal round against the Italians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The four players will be Todd Martin, Jim Courier, Jan-Michael Gambill and Justin Gimelstob. There's been some speculation regarding Jim Courier. He was injured. He had a dead arm. I talked to him about a week ago. He's in Orlando, he's practicing, he's training. He told me he was very eager to get back on a tennis court again, not only in Davis Cup, but on the regular Tour, as well. We are very, very happy to have Jim as part of the team. Obviously Todd Martin can play singles and/or doubles, or both. He's 9-2 in Davis Cup singles for us since I've been captain, which I'm in my fifth year. You know, Todd has been an integral part of our team every time he's been asked. The only time he hasn't played is when I haven't invited him on the team. But basically he commits to me at the beginning of the year for every Tie. So he's been a true supporter of the Davis Cup. He's played some great tennis for us. Jan-Michael Gambill, as those of you have seen this year, has really had a terrific rise on the tour, all the way from 200 plus at the beginning of the year down into the Top 50 now. I will say he was a bit unlucky not to beat Carlos Moya on the centre court in the third round. I thought he played some great tennis. Only maybe just a touch of inexperience maybe caused him to lose that match. Certainly we're very excited to have Jan-Michael Gambill on the team for the first time. He has been a practice partner in the past. He's very, very committed to the Davis Cup. I can tell you, he's very excited about being part of the team. Justin Gimelstob, you know, he'll probably end up playing the doubles. He certain is an excellent singles player and a doubles player. I think he's probably the last person to beat Patrick Rafter this summer in LA, so he can play good singles. He's obviously proved himself on the doubles court as well. He has served as a practice partner on numerous occasions. He's represented the United States in international junior competitions. As we've all seen, he's a very enthusiastic person, both on and off the court. He's very, very keen to be part of the team. So I think we've got some great chemistry on the team. We've got two seasoned veterans in Jim Courier and Todd Martin. And they can both serve as kind of mentors and leaders. We've got two young guys, Justin and Jan-Michael, who for the first time will be on the team, and will be contributing in the match. They're both very excited. Also we're bringing along the Bryan twins as practice partners. I still can't tell them apart, but I guess you all had that problem when Tim and I were around, as well. You can sympathize with me a little bit on that one. But Bob and Mike Bryan will be the sparring partners for us. I think we're going to have a lot of enthusiasm there for this match against Italy. Certainly I think the two old players on the team, the 28 year olds, Martin and Courier, hopefully will get energized by all this youth around them. I'm very excited about it. We're extremely happy to be hosting the Italians in the semifinals. Congratulations on your quarterfinal win. It made it nice for us to have a home Tie. Regarding Milwaukee, it's my home state. I did live there for two summers during college, two very memorable summers I will add. It's going to be nice for me to get back to my home state, and really bring Davis Cup to that part of the country for the first time ever. That's certainly one of the goals for the USTA, to use Davis Cup as a vehicle to promote tennis. The best way we can promote tennis in the USA is to spread the Davis Cup around, put it around in different parts of the country. If you ask all the players, they'd probably want to play every Tie in San Diego because the weather's great, the beaches are great. In reality, for us to promote our sport properly in the United States, we need to spread it around the country. We're very excited about this team, very excited to be hosting the Italians in Milwaukee. I'd be happy to entertain any questions.

Q. If the Davis Cup were tomorrow, would you be thinking it would have to be at this time Gambill and Martin as your singles players?

TOM GULLIKSON: You know, Jim really hasn't played since Cincinnati. He told me he was very prepared to either play or just be there and be part of the team. You know, he said, I'm the captain, it's my decision. He said he'd be a hundred percent behind Jan-Michael playing or he'd be a hundred percent ready to play if he were asked to play.

Q. Are you keeping that open?

TOM GULLIKSON: Yeah, I think we'll keep that option open for a while. We really don't have to announce our intentions until the draw on Thursday in Milwaukee.

Q. Justin was a little concerned about anemia, not knowing what it was.

TOM GULLIKSON: Justin did have a little medical problem that was causing his stamina problems, his cramping problems that he had certainly here at The Open. A couple other times this summer, too. He was diagnosed as -- he was lacking in a certain enzyme that changes fat into energy. For those of us who know Justin, watching him play in the first round here, he looked lethargic. That's certainly not his style. They did find out the problem with some medical testing. You know, it's very correctable just by taking certain pills. He should be fine.

Q. Comments and the defections from Chang, Agassi and Sampras, have they been hurtful to you personal?


Q. Defections and the comments that were made.

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, defections, comments. Yeah, personally a little disappointing to me. I would be less than honest if I said I wasn't disappointed. Because I think, you know, certainly the goal is to get the top Americans, the best Americans to play every Tie. That's my job as captain, to get the best field out there. But, you know, you have to go forward. I don't particularly like arguing with people, confronting people. So I like to kind of stress the positive and move on with the people who really want to be there. These four players are committed to being there, and I'm happy to lead them.

Q. In speaking with Jim in recent days or recent weeks, what has his frame of mind been? There was speculation over the summer that he was going to announce his retirement from the game?

TOM GULLIKSON: Yeah, there was speculation, I think. It was a combination of being frustrated. Jim has always been such a physical player. For the first time in the last couple years, his body started to break down a little bit. That caused him some real frustration because he had to back off his training, which of course, we all know, he loves to do. Then the frustration of also not playing up to the standard that he has set for himself throughout his whole career. I think we've seen examples certainly in the last two or three years in Davis Cup where he has played Top 10 tennis, no question about it, in some very difficult circumstances, like down in Brazil, then beating Safin in the fifth match in Atlanta after being way down. Jim can play great tennis, but I think it's a combination of maybe being a little frustrated with the injuries and then possibly a little mental burnout as well.

Q. Did the Gambill defeat with Moya push you to call Courier? Do you call him because you need some experience or what?

TOM GULLIKSON: Actually, Courier called me. We were playing a little bit of phone tag during The Open. He called me long before the Moya-Gambill match actually. But, sure, ideally as a captain, certainly in a semifinal, you want a good mix of youth and experience. You wouldn't want four guys playing who have never played before.

Q. What specific discussions did you have with Pete? When you took this job, there was sort of a sense that you were close to Pete, that maybe he would play a little bit more for you than he would for others. Do you think that was unrealistic now looking back?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, I think regarding Pete, it all started last year with Pete in the finals when he injured himself. I think for whatever reason that left kind of a bad taste in his mouth regarding this year and Davis Cup. As we all know, he's very focused on the individual goals of tying Emerson's record here hopefully this week, finishing the year No. 1 so he can break the record that he and Jimmy Connors now jointly hold as being No. 1 five years in a row. He's very focused on the individual goals. He's also been a strong proponent of creating an off-season for himself. Certainly the Davis Cup final is the first week in December. Right after that, the players would like to take a little break, maybe play golf for a week or something, then they have to start training again for Australia. The tennis schedule, the calendar in general, doesn't leave a lot of time for off-seasons and downtime so these guys can just be regular human beings for let's say two months, then resume getting into their training mode to get ready to go down to Australia.

Q. Two players to choose from possibly, Gambill and Spadea. Both have not had particularly brilliant years. Gambill has had a sub 500 mark since he beat Tim Henman back earlier in the year. While Spadea has had some big wins against Agassi and Krajicek, he didn't look particularly good against Byron Black. Still Spadea had the better ranking. What went into your thought process regarding Gambill?

TOM GULLIKSON: I talked to Vince at length last night. Certainly Vince was under consideration for one of the spots, as was Jeff Tarango. I will say both Vince and Tarango were certainly ready to step in and be part of the team in whatever capacity they would be chosen to do so. Spadea, right now, he's got a bad shoulder. I mean, his first round match with Byron Black, he couldn't lift his arm above his head. Right now, his injury is a major problem for him. I certainly considered him quite strongly. But frankly, you know, Gambill indoors with his big serve, really in my mind, had the edge regarding an indoor situation.

Q. Even if Spadea were healthy?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, it's speculation now because Spadea's not healthy.

Q. What do you know about the Italians? You played in Palermo, but you had Sampras and Agassi. Now is a different story. What do you think about them, know about them? The Italian captain has not yet decided who is going to play singles, but there are three possible candidates, Sanguinetti, Pozzi and Gaudenzi. What do you expect? Do you expect you are favorite, honestly?

TOM GULLIKSON: I think our players play pretty well indoors. Certainly Todd Martin grew up in Lansing, Michigan, which they play indoors about half the year up there. So he enjoys playing indoors. Gambill has a big serve. Courier certainly has played well indoors in the past. You know, we have three guys who I think can play some excellent singles indoors. I don't put a lot of stock in who is favored and who is the underdog, because the reality is you just have to get to three. Whether you're favored or the underdog, the bottom line is going out there and winning matches and proving it on the court. The over and under kind of stuff doesn't really concern me that much. I've got a lot of respect for the Italians. You've been in the semifinals three years running now. Obviously there's some good things going on in Italian tennis. David Sanguinetti I know quite well, because when I was coaching Capriatti the first two years on the tour, I used to go down to Saddle Brook quite often and train Jennifer, and David was one of her sparring partners. I used to hit with David some. He went to college in the States, UCLA, played some college tennis. I know David actually very well. I've seen Gaudenzi play a lot. He's made a good comeback from a fairly serious injury. He has his ranking back down into the 30s, I believe, playing quite well. He's always a threat really on any surface. I know he's primarily good on clay, but he can play anywhere really. The lefty Pozzi is kind of a throwback to the John McEnroe era of kind of being a lefty, coming to the net, chipping, slow-balling, kind of a McEnroe-style game. He's been very effective. I think at an old age of 33 this year, I believe he's been ranked higher this year than he ever has in his life. All credit to him for what he's doing in his career. You know, I have a healthy respect for any opponent that we have.

Q. I was announcing the weakest team ever by the United States put on the court. As the captain, you must disagree. The average ranking of the four in singles is 60.6, probably weakest since Eric Van Dellen played singles or Donald Dell placed doubles, the United States didn't put on a team on the paper.


Q. You probably have to disagree. You have some reason to explain this?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, I guess it's how they've done in the 12 months to accumulate the career-low ranking that we're showing in Davis Cup. It's up to them what they do week in and week out on the ATP Tour. But rankings really don't concern me. Winning three points in Milwaukee is my main concern.

Q. It looks it can happen only in America.

TOM GULLIKSON: Can I finish?

Q. Sorry.

TOM GULLIKSON: In Davis Cup, really rankings don't matter because, as we've all seen many dramatic examples of, fairly lower-ranked players can play some really inspirational tennis for their home country. So I don't think Davis Cup really should be focused on things like rankings. I think it's playing for your country, playing for the right reasons.

Q. What is your opinion on Agassi's contention that it should be the players basically calling the shots, specifically in regard to location, choosing the captain themselves?

TOM GULLIKSON: I think Andre's contention that the players should choose the sites, I think they should certainly have input. I don't think the USTA should give all the power to the players to choose the sites. We should get input from the players. Like I said, there is a certain philosophy of spreading this great event around the country instead of playing it in one place or two places where the players like to play. That would be my comment on that. What was your other question?

Q. On captain.

TOM GULLIKSON: It's my understanding that Bumpy Frazer was the president when I got the job as captain. It was my understanding that he talked to several of the players before he chose me as captain. Certainly they did consult with the players.

PAGE CROSLAND: Maybe Bumpy would like to respond to that.

BUMPY FRAZER: I'll be glad to respond. The answer is yes. At the time when we were selecting a Davis Cup captain, I spoke personally and privately with every one of our leading players. I'm happy to say -- I don't think it was unanimous, but it was very close to unanimous. But Tom was a great choice. Also there was an earlier question I'd like to just comment on. Somebody asked if Tom thought he was chosen because maybe he was closer to Pete Sampras. I want to say that truly was not in my mind. I mean, I was well aware his brother was Sampras' coach, but I certainly didn't for a second select Tom over other excellent candidates just because I thought, "Man, this guy can get Pete Sampras." In fact, Pete Sampras was certainly one of the players with whom I had spoken. But that was not a reason. But the players are consulted as to where we go. We do consult with the players; their input is very important. But the decision truly has to be based on a number of factors. Tom handles this beautifully. I want to say Tom is probably the happiest appointment I ever made and I'm very proud of you, Tom.

TOM GULLIKSON: Thank you, Bumpy.

Q. There are certain countries, Australia one of them, that believes that if you don't want to put your body on the line for Rounds No. 1, 2, or even play 2, not 3, unless you have a pretty darn good reason, we don't want you to the final. That might apply to even Pete Sampras this year.

TOM GULLIKSON: Yeah, I think it -- I would agree. I think all the players agree that certainly to play in the final, play in such a prestigious event, you should help your country get to that position. We don't have any written policy or anything, but that's kind of the general guideline that we have followed.

Q. And just to follow up on that, would that mean that if the US won the third round, you would not be calling Pete Sampras, or if he called you and said, "I'm available"?

TOM GULLIKSON: I've talked to Pete several times about it. Certainly one of his reasons for not playing in the semis is because he didn't want to play in the finals, because he wants his off-season. He talked strongly about creating an off-season for himself. And he doesn't want to play in December.

Q. Did you specifically lobby for Milwaukee?

TOM GULLIKSON: No, not at all. That was, I would say, a rumor that was spread in the papers. I certainly didn't lobby for Milwaukee. I'm happy to go to Milwaukee, just like I'd be happy to go to Des Moines, Iowa, or Sioux Falls, one of the Dakotas, whatever it is (laughter). When it was reported that I maybe was behind this thing to go to Milwaukee, my wife Julie's comment to me was, "All that means is there's going to be 500 people who beat you in the juniors who remembered you who all want tickets." That might be what Milwaukee really means to me, if you want to get down to the bottom line.

Q. In your mind, which singles players they going to play for Italy, Gaudenzi or Pozzi, in your mind?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, I know that -- I don't know if it was a challenge match, but I knew Pozzi beat Gaudenzi in Indianapolis 7-6, 6-1. So I do follow those results.

Q. Which doubles team in America?


Q. Which doubles team for Americans, Gimelstob and Martin?

TOM GULLIKSON: We have some different combinations.

Q. Which team do you think you will put on paper?

TOM GULLIKSON: On paper? Well, we don't have to put that on paper till the Thursday of the draw. We'll wait until then to really get onto the paperwork.

Q. In a situation where you're picking basically three singles-oriented players, was there any thought to picking more of a doubles-oriented team in a Tie that could be very close and could well come down to the doubles?

TOM GULLIKSON: It's always good to have a backup singles player. I know in one of our Davis Cup captain's meetings, we discussed the idea of having a five-man team as opposed to a four-man team. In a five-man team, you could actually pick a doubles team, then you could pick your fifth player as your backup singles player, then you'd have the best of both world. I think even the countries that have a limited amount of players, like Zimbabwe or something, they even kind of supported that concept. In a situation where you have four players, potential for injuries, it would be very difficult to pick two guys who only play in the doubles tour. We had a case like in Las Vegas when Agassi got injured against Sweden in the semifinals in '95, Todd Martin, who was playing doubles there, jumped in and he beat Enqvist who was ranked 8 in the world to clinch the Tie. It's nice to have that kind of flexibility from one of the members of your doubles team.

Q. Do you think a lot of a Davis Cup captain is a lot harder these days when you know Newc and Rochey can't get Philippoussis to play, you can't get your top guys to play, Becker is having problems with Kiefer and Haas to play, compared to a few years ago, how much tougher is it and why do you think that is the case?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, I think it is a lot tougher. I think there's a lot more pulling at the players these days. There's so many events. Certainly these players are focused on the Grand Slams. Apparently with the new commitment in the year 2000 where they're going to count all the Super 9's, all the Grand Slams, then they're going to give you five other tournaments, that's like 18 tournaments right there. That's without including Davis Cup. So I think there's so many factors pulling on these players. Of course, you know, the top players have a fairly large complement of people around them also. It seems to be growing every year. Not only do you have to have a good relationship hopefully with the players, but you also have to deal very effectively with the entourage around the players as well to kind to gain as much support as possible. Yes, I think it is probably much more complicated than it was years ago. There's no question about it.

Q. Going back to my question before. It looks like even out of tennis, US have always problems getting the best players playing for a national team. Many other countries in tennis had problems getting their best players sometimes, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker. Still there is a general problem in this country. How do you explain that sometimes the United States are not able -- you won 31 times the Davis Cup, but you should have won 40 if you were capable to get the best players.

TOM GULLIKSON: I think part of it can be explained by just saying geography. We've got such a large country, we're basically the size of Europe. Spain is maybe the size of California. Spain has 16 players in the Top 100 in the world right now. They all live in Barcelona, they all train together. Any given day, you can go to the club there in Barcelona and play ten guys in the Top 100 in the world. It's much closer-knit. In the States, we have such a big country, such a diversity of backgrounds of the players. It is a complicated problem. I think in the States, one thing we could do better is we could publicize the Davis Cup more. I know after we won in '95, Pete was kind of disappointed that we didn't get more coverage. He didn't want a ticker tape parade. But he said, "We put in a pretty good effort there in Russia." Outside of the tennis community, in the States, really nobody cares because we have Major League Baseball with McGwire, the football starting. We have so many professional sports that we're competing against.

Q. It can be that in baseball or football, you don't have a national team. So the concept of a national team is not as strong in this country like in the other countries.

TOM GULLIKSON: I would agree. Although every player as their own individual feelings about it. Obviously we've had guys like Agassi who love to play for their country, Todd Martin will step up. We have certain guys within the tennis community that really have supported the Davis Cup quite well. It's just to get that collective feeling, to get all the players in the same page. Tennis is such an individual sport from an early age. If you have a 12 year old kid, he's playing soccer, you put him on a soccer team, he's got two coaches. You go sit in the stands and yell at the coaches. In tennis, it's such an individual sport, that mom and dad are driving this kid to tournaments from the age of 12 all the way on up. They want to be the players box at Wimbledon and the US Open. It breeds much more individualism, I think, than some other sports.

Q. When you look at the changes going on in the ATP Tour in the year 2000, does it ever give you thought of how Davis Cup might be reformed, whether it's every other year?

TOM GULLIKSON: We've had those discussions. We've had two Davis Cup captain's meetings, one at Wimbledon and one at the US Open here, of the 16 captains of the World Group. Brian Tobin with the ITF, this meeting we had here, Mark Miles and Weller Evans of the ATP Tour were here. It was a very productive meeting. Basically we have to find better ways of working for the betterment of tennis, not for the betterment of each individual group that's within tennis. I think everyone realizes - the ATP and the ITF, all the other alphabetical groups - realize that we have to do what's best for tennis in one part. Certainly we all feel strongly that Davis Cup is a huge part of that.

Q. The ideas of a five-man team seems pretty good.


Q. Is that something that's just in banter or do you foresee that happening?

TOM GULLIKSON: We get a lot of good ideas in these meetings, when you sit around with Newcomb and all these guys that have great experience in Davis Cup. Five-man team is one suggestion. We challenged Mark Miles when he was here, we thought bonus points for Davis Cup would be a good idea. One of the reasons why some of the players say they don't play is because it affects their next couple tournaments, it affects their ranking. We feel that Davis Cup is such an important part of tennis, that why not give these guys bonus points just for playing?

Q. Is that something you see happening?

TOM GULLIKSON: Well, I think it's a possibility. I mean certainly hopefully the ATP seems open-minded enough about the thing that they'll at least entertain it.

Q. And the five-man team?

TOM GULLIKSON: That's something that could be looked at, as well. Like I said before, these are things that need to be voted on I think by the whole ITF body. Correct me if I'm wrong, Bill, but something like that would probably have to be voted on. It may be to the disadvantage of some of the smaller countries who have a limited number of players as opposed to big countries like the US and Australia and Spain who have a lot of good players.

Q. Pete Sampras and Jim Courier both have spoken with envy about the attention paid to the Ryder Cup, have spoken about the fact that it's played in a defined place, defined amount of time, and all the focus can be put right on it at one point. Does Davis Cup have to change its format in order to get that sort of attention?

TOM GULLIKSON: I think everybody needs to be open-minded enough to look at all the different arenas. Certainly the ITF is in 131 countries around the world. It's a complicated issue. The World Group is only 16 of those 131 countries. In fact, the majority of the funds that probably fund most of the countries' development programs for the year come from money coming from a Davis Cup Tie. In a lot of countries, it kind of helps fund their program for the entire year. We need to stay open and look at all possibilities rather than saying, "This is the only way to do things, absolutely."

PAGE CROSLAND: Thank you, very much. You can go and watch Tom play later today.

End of FastScripts….

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