June 27, 2002
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Jeff Morrison. First question, please.
Q. Is that Gator orange?
JEFF MORRISON: No, it's red, I think. I hope anyway (laughter).
Q. When you see what happened yesterday and the upsets, how much were you able to draw from what happened yesterday and think you could do this today?
JEFF MORRISON: I think that you can draw a lot from that. I think, you know, obviously the depth in men's tennis is great, and what happened yesterday showed that. You see guys going on big courts and beating seeded players. It makes you realize that you can achieve the same thing if you are playing as well as you can. And that's what happened today, so...
Q. How about playing on Centre Court? What was your reaction when you found out that's where you'd be?
JEFF MORRISON: Oh, gosh. Last night when I found out, I was excited. This morning I woke up, and I was a nervous wreck (laughter). But obviously when you grow up playing tennis, that's what you dream of, is playing on Centre Court. So it was a dream come true for me to go out there and compete and play on that court that so many great players have played on. It was real exciting.
Q. How did you keep your nerves under control?
JEFF MORRISON: You know, I was a bit nervous. The first 30 minutes of the match, I was a little awestruck, but I kept holding serve. I felt like I was playing well. My confidence was gaining. Then really after that, I was playing the match. I really got myself out of the fact that I was playing on Centre Court, you know, this was against -- in the place I dreamt of playing. I really was able to focus on playing Juan Carlos and focus on my game, which was good.
Q. Did you get tight in the second set or did he raise his level?
JEFF MORRISON: You know, thinking back to it, I don't remember ever distinctly getting tight, per se. I missed a few shots, but I missed them the right way. I went after them, I was aggressive. I don't think they were nervous shots. He obviously made a play on a lot more returns in those couple service games that he broke me. But I held together. I broke him at 5-All, I thought that was really huge. He had some momentum going in his direction. I kind of stopped it right there and held out for the set.
Q. When you missed that real easy overhead, crucial stage, we saw you smile. Were you really that loose at that point?
JEFF MORRISON: You know, I'm my best when I act like I did out there today. And I think I was very fortunate to be able to act that way and to enjoy the experience and to live in the moment. You know, I felt like I still -- I was up a set, I was still 5-All. I found that smiling is a great way to relieve stress. That was what happened there (smiling).
Q. How does a guy with virtually no Grand Slam experience also come through in the third set tiebreak, which was pretty crucial? If you would have lost that, it would have been an entirely different match.
JEFF MORRISON: Obviously. I felt it was urgent -- a sense of urgency there to win that tiebreaker. I was serving great all day, first and second serves, and I was playing well. I feel like I was making him work on his serve, and I was serving well. So the combination of those two things, I never really got caught up in what was going on. Even if I do lose that tiebreaker, you know, I feel like I've got more pressure on him when he's serving to break, maybe to win in four or even five if I have to. But I was just focusing on my game, what I had to do.
Q. We had George Bastl yesterday, and you. Neither one of you made it out of the qualifying, yet you're into the third round at Wimbledon. Is qualifying tougher than the main draw?
JEFF MORRISON: I tell you what, nobody wants to qualify, that's for sure (smiling). It's a grind. I think we play three matches on three consecutive days. I played two good matches the first two days, and I ran into a guy the third day, Cyril Saulnier, top hundred in the world, tough player, and he beat me. There's so many great players all the way up and down the line that on a given day anybody can be beat. Qualifying is definitely tough.
Q. How many years ago would winning a second round match on Centre Court at Wimbledon seem to be even possible to you?
JEFF MORRISON: Six months ago. I mean, I think obviously I've had a steady rise through the ranks, cracked the top hundred for the first time just two weeks ago. You know, for me, six months ago, six weeks ago, I would have never fathomed beating a Top 10 player on a Grand Slam court. So exciting.
Q. You're from West Virginia.
JEFF MORRISON: Yes.
Q. How many years did you spend there?
JEFF MORRISON: I grew up in West Virginia. I lived there until my junior year of high school, then I moved away to go to tennis academy in South Carolina.
Q. There aren't too many great players in the history of West Virginia. How did you manage to even get to the level where you're moving from West Virginia to somewhere else?
JEFF MORRISON: You know, that's a good question. I played maybe three, four hours a week - a week - until my junior year of high school, which is when I decided I really wanted to make a push and try to do this for a career and obtain a college scholarship is what my goals were. And I did that when I moved to South Carolina. I went to the University of Florida, won NCAA title my sophomore year. Ever since then, that's really when I've kind of taken off.
Q. How did you jump from playing three or four hours a week to NCAA four years later?
JEFF MORRISON: Yeah, four years later. Basically just working. You know, I never put much time into it. I really started to reach my potential when I started to put those hours in on the court. There's really nobody for me to play with in West Virginia, to be quite honest, so that was the main reason that I moved out (laughter). So once I got to play with some better players on a daily basis. I was playing sometimes more in a day than I played in a week. So, you know, but that's how it transpired.
Q. What's the academy in Spartanburg?
JEFF MORRISON: Gary Johnson Tennis Academy. I don't remember if you remember JJ Jackson, some other guys that were part of that academy. We had a good group of guys there when I was there. Most all of them went on to play good college tennis. Good guys to practice with.
Q. You grew up in Huntington?
JEFF MORRISON: Yes.
Q. Was there a high school team?
JEFF MORRISON: Yeah, there was a high school team. I actually never won, never even played in the finals of a state high school tournament. The team, we won it as a team. I lost in my freshman and sophomore year in singles. We won as a team. I won it in doubles my freshman year. No titles to speak of.
Q. Were you always very athletically gifted, and how did you end up choosing tennis over other sports?
JEFF MORRISON: Growing up I played baseball, basketball, golf and tennis. When I got there in high school, I had a decision to make: which one I wanted to do. I felt like my best opportunity -- I was playing very little and having very good success in tennis - Top 3 in the country in Juniors. I figured tennis was my best shot to make it, so that's what I chose.
Q. You won the NCAA as a sophomore.
JEFF MORRISON: Right.
Q. Then you go back to Florida and don't turn professional. What made you make that move?
JEFF MORRISON: A couple factors. One was that I wasn't ready. No one even really knew who I was. All of a sudden I just won the NCAAs. I didn't feel like I was ready to make that transition so quickly. I wasn't physically as mature as I am - haven't gotten there yet either. I was 148 when I won the NCAAs, now a whopping 160. I wasn't physically ready, I didn't think. We had a great, great team at Florida. I wanted to come back and be a part of that. We actually finished second in the country the next year. That was the two factors.
Q. Can you talk about the moment you actually walked out onto Centre Court? Did you try to close it down and focus on just another match, another court, or did you look up, take it in?
JEFF MORRISON: I was pretty much taking it all in at that stage. I was looking around a lot, just saying, "Oh, my gosh, here I am. Who would have ever thought that I would be here?" It was a pretty awesome experience to be out there for -- walking out those doors, being where the greats have played. So it was awesome.
Q. What struck you the most about the enclosure there, about the court?
JEFF MORRISON: Just the history of that court is what is so awesome. You know, for me, watching Sampras win, you know, seven Wimbledons on that court, all the great matches, great things that have transpired out there, I think the history for me is awe-inspiring.
Q. Assuming that Sampras and Agassi were two of the guys you watched, probably looked up to growing up, how does it feel to be left in the tournament and those two guys are gone?
JEFF MORRISON: I don't know. I guess it's good for the young Americans to be -- you know, Taylor and I, Taylor is still in. Everyone has been talking for so long that the young American guys, there aren't any new superstars. But there's a group of us that are doing well. You know, it just shows that anything can happen. Those guys were young, too, when they had their breakthroughs. Who is to say this isn't mine or Taylor's?
Q. Does this put more pressure on the young American players that Andre and Pete aren't in it any longer this year?
JEFF MORRISON: No, I don't think so. I think, you know, we've been going about our business for the last couple years, you know, slowly rising up through the ranks. We're all good friends, we all speak. We're pushing, pulling each other. There's no undue pressure on us now that those guys are gone and we're still in the tournament.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.