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April 22, 2005

Els Callens


THE MODERATOR: We'll take some comments from Carl regarding the draw.

CAPTAIN MAES: I thought it was the best way of going forward in this tie to put our most experienced player in our team in every match that we can put her in. So Els is clearly our No. 1 singles player at this moment, so I think that was a pretty logical choice. On top of that, she's been a world class doubles player for many years. So in that respect, I think the doubles nomination is not a surprise either. I think the three other players were very tight, so it was a very difficult choice that I made very late during the week. It's going to be for all three players a massive experience playing in front of a big crowd in a big stadium, and maybe someday we can give all three players an opportunity to play, but we'll look at that tomorrow afternoon after the first two singles.

Q. Can you talk from a nationalistic standpoint the disappointment of not having Kim and Justine playing?

CAPTAIN MAES: It's regrettable, that's for sure. There's no other word for it. On the other hand, we have to appreciate the concerns that they have for their health and it doesn't mean that their recent successes have been in the press all over the world, everybody acknowledging that they're back at the top. They're still digesting from having their first weeks of success. In that respect I think the decision that they made a couple of months ago already, we still need to respect that. It's not because they're playing the highest level again that health-wise they can cope with a full calendar already. So they have not committed to a full calendar yet. We need to see once that happens, we can maybe sit around the table again.

ELS CALLENS: Yes, of course, I think everybody regrets that they're not here this week because I think if we were with Kim and Justine here, I think we have a very good team. Like everybody says, we won the Fed Cup once. I think with the full team we have chances to win it again. It's a bit disappointing, but it's their choice. They have been out of it. They have to also take care a little bit of their personal career, and I think when they have time maybe they're ready to play again for the Belgian team.

CAPTAIN MAES: It's interesting to maybe say that they have not expressed that they do not want to play Fed Cup. They're purely playing because of their own concerns with their own individual career at the moment.

Q. Did you approach them again for this tie?

CAPTAIN MAES: I've spoken to them, although the first time has never been addressed. I thinks that's a conversation to have for the next tie. I've spoken to both of them, but not for this tie. I think we will sit around the table as soon as the draw will be clear for the next round.

Q. (Question regarding not playing Kirsten).

CAPTAIN MAES: Is that question for me or Kirsten?

Q. How about you.

CAPTAIN MAES: I think Kirsten had a very important week in her comeback. I think she has been planning her comeback for the last five or six weeks, and she's taking everything step by step. I think by being part of the team and the way she progressed throughout the week, she's already taken two steps ahead of schedule. Playing a match might be a bridge too far at this moment, so we put that on hold at the moment. It's more or less to protect Kirsten against herself because she's so eager to play. And she will play more matches, I think we just need to be concerned about Kirsten's health and not wanting to take too many steps at a time.

Q. Can you address the fact that will be the first time you're playing two really powerful players, world No. 1's?

EVELINE VANHYFTE: This is going to be my first match in the Fed Cup. To play against the No. 1 of the team, of the world, how hard can you get? I think this is going to be the biggest experience of my life on a tennis court. So I'm very excited to play. I just do my best and I give everything I have. Yeah, and just I'm very happy to play.

Q. Els, what do you consider to be the greatest upset that you've had?

ELS CALLENS: My greatest upset?

Q. Yes.

ELS CALLENS: That would just be Sanchez Vicario in Fed Cup.

Q. When did you find out you were playing? When you called home, what was the reaction?

EVELINE VANHYFTE: Well, actually I haven't called home yet (laughter). So I'm going to call after this press conference. But I think they'll all be very excited that I'm going to play, yeah. I can't tell what their reaction will be. They will be very happy.

Q. As you near the end of your career, Fed Cup was such an important part of your tennis life, can you look back at the Fed Cup and talk about how fortunate you've been?

ELS CALLENS: Can you form that differently?

Q. You have always played and always wanted to play for Belgium. How important is Fed Cup to you?

ELS CALLENS: I just like to play for my country and I like to play in the team because through the year we play usually for ourselves, and it's very individual. I traveled without a coach the last year, so for me it's a great week to practice together and then live up to the competition. It seems always that I play pretty well. For me it's something special. It's like playing the Olympics, it was for me also something really extraordinary to do. There is always a nice stadium, it's full of people, it's a lot of noise. It seems like I always can play a little bit better in the full stadium. Yeah, like I say, it's playing for a team, playing for your country, playing for the people at home. It's not the same as playing in a tournament somewhere ON Court 19 in the back.

Q. Who do you think is the best player you've played against so far in your career?

EVELINE VANHYFTE: So far? Well, I have to think. I think -- I don't know the name, but probably a player around 200. Yeah, I played Kirsten a few years ago (laughter). She was 180 at that moment. I played Martina, she was 180. I think that's the best player.

Q. Kirsten, when Carl told you you weren't going to play, did you try to convince him that you really were ready to play, you could hold up?

KIRSTEN FLIPKENS: I think in the beginning I was disappointed. I think it's normal, if you really want to play, you've been out for eight months, I think it's normal you really want to play against, yeah, such a team. But after all, have you to be professional I think and think what's the best for the team and for your country. Yeah, I think maybe it was the best that I didn't play because, like he said, five steps forward. I'm already taking two steps forward this week, so I just have to take it step by step. I think it's the best, yeah, to just practice this week very good with the team and take a lot of confidence out of this.

End of FastScripts….

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