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August 26, 1997

Amanda Coetzer

Flushing Meadows, New York

VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Questions for Amanda.

Q. Routine first round match. Do you feel comfortable?

AMANDA COETZER: Not really routine. I've played against Nicole before. I've actually had a three-set match with her. She's got a really good serve. I expected her to come in, being a left-hander, of course it's a bit tricky. She put as lot of spin on the ball. I really had to concentrate and make sure I was there for every shot.

Q. Still feel fresh after so many weeks of competition?

AMANDA COETZER: Yeah, very much so. I think I wouldn't have been able to have gotten by with less matches. A lot of those draws were quite small. I still feel pretty fresh.

Q. Are you getting more up for Grand Slams?

AMANDA COETZER: I would hope so, yeah. I think I have in the past done pretty well at the Grand Slams. You know, hopefully that's where you can play your best tennis and really work your way around the Grand Slams and the bigger tournaments.

Q. Amanda, I noticed during your match that quite a few people really yell out and cheer for you. That really doesn't go too much with the others. They really get into it. How are you able to stay so focused, when even though they mean to be helpful, after you double-faulted, a man said something like, "Settle down." How do you still focus after people are yelling things out?

AMANDA COETZER: I think I have pretty good concentration skills. I mean, a lot of times exactly that encouragement from some of the crowd have really helped me through matches. I really look at it in a positive way. I've always played in the opposite conditions where my opponent was by far the favorite. That's tough. I think that's probably harder to keep your focus.

Q. Amanda, were you concerned in any way about your opponent prior to the match? Did she represent any sort of threat to you?

AMANDA COETZER: Yeah, definitely.

Q. In what way?

AMANDA COETZER: Everybody in the draw could be quite a threat. You know, she's a left-handed player. I've played her in doubles. I know she comes into the net and she does that pretty effectively. You know, she has a lot of spin on the ball. I knew if I don't concentrate well and let it slip a little bit, I could get myself into trouble.

Q. What did you do that you felt blunted her attack in any way?

AMANDA COETZER: I think I returned pretty well, and also I was really diligent on my own service games because I knew, especially in the beginning, I was struggling a bit with her service games. Like I said, she's got a lot of spin on the ball, left-hander, and she puts a lot of pressure coming in behind it. I think the fact that I played my own service games pretty good gave me a lot more confidence to go out a little bit and try and break her.

Q. Were you surprised that she did not attack as much as you might have expected?

AMANDA COETZER: I expected her to come in a little bit more, probably. I think I returned pretty well. Hopefully, I didn't give her enough chances. I'm sure her plan was to be more aggressive and come in a little bit more.

Q. Could you give some of your impressions of the teenage players on The Tour, like Kournikova and Lucic? Do you kind of feel old at a point when people that young are getting into the US Open and making an impact in the draw?

AMANDA COETZER: As a matter of fact, I don't really. In a way, I almost relate a little bit better to some of the younger players. I think they're very good for the game. It's very exciting, specifically those two. Lucic, I've played against her, Kournikova I've played a few times. I think they really would bring a lot to the game. Just as far as I'm concerned with my age and stuff, I really relate pretty well to the younger players because I feel like my game is still developing. I think over the last few games I've improved a lot more than a player my age normally would improve. In that way, I feel a little bit younger than what my age is.

Q. Do you think their games are good enough to really make a total changing of the guard, that there's going to be like in the Top 10 eight players that are all maybe under 22 or something?

AMANDA COETZER: You know, I hope not. I mean, right now it's happened a little bit. You see a lot of the younger players up there, with Hingis at the very top. At the same time we had Novotna at No. 2 a few weeks ago. I think she dropped a little bit down now. Hopefully there will be a good mix, just a good level of competition among everybody, not just a certain age group and that.

Q. Do you feel like you're pulling for people in your age group a little bit, carry their hopes maybe on your shoulders?

AMANDA COETZER: Not particularly. I mean, I really enjoy seeing somebody like Novotna having her best year on The Tour, when she's 29. I enjoy seeing that. At the same time, like I said, I'm excited with all these young players because I can relate with what it feels to still know that your game can still improve and not feeling that you're at your highest potential yet.

Q. Other players seem to struggle with the atmosphere of a Grand Slam, so many distractions going on. You seem to have some of your best results at Grand Slams. How are you able to put that aside, avoid distractions?

AMANDA COETZER: I think probably the last few years, I've really prepared myself well for the Grand Slams. I've really made sure that I've played enough before them so that by the time I get to them, I feel completely relaxed. I don't feel like I have last-minute things to fix. I don't have to catch up with a few practices here and there. I pretty much have come into them feeling very relaxed, feeling that I've done as much as I could have, and now it's pretty much up to my opponents, just have to wait and see what happens from here. I think in a way that takes a lot of pressure off you; you can just really go out and compete.

Q. What would you say is the major reason for your big improvement? You were with Dennis Van der Meer, and now you have somebody coaching you for the past couple of years. Is it your fitness, because it seems like you're just so fit now as compared to maybe a couple years ago. Is that the reason for your major improvement do you think?

AMANDA COETZER: I think that's just a very small part of it. It's almost like the cherry on the cake. I think the major improvement in my game that I've made is my technical. With that it's just kind of snowballed. It's just given me a lot of confidence. I think definitely the fitness has helped me a lot. I just feel like I can do a lot more with the ball, which I didn't have as much variety. I've really worked hard. It's been quite technical, made a lot of technical changes in my game, which is not normal for somebody my age to start to do that. Started doing that a couple years ago.

Q. Could you give an example of one of the technical changes that you're talking about?

AMANDA COETZER: Yeah. I changed my forehand around completely, more to an open-stance forehand, which in the end changed my whole hitting range. I've worked on technique on my backhand and also just over a long period of time slowly on my serve. I think it's really come a long way.

Q. How did you get the mental framework that allowed you to make these changes?

AMANDA COETZER: I think I was just at a point in my career where I felt stagnant, even though my ranking was in the Top 20 still, this was a few years ago. I just didn't feel like I could stay competitive with the younger people hitting harder. I just thought it's a risk that I'm going to take, but it's worth taking.

End of FastScripts…

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