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December 5, 1995

Byron Black


Q. What have you been doing these last two weeks; you were feeling like you were in holidays?

BYRON BLACK: Definitely, yeah, I went back home to. I have been travelling a lot this year and I really went home and just tried to relax. There is not much point in practicing back home because it is very high altitude and there is actually no one to play with there, so I was just trying to keep in shape and do some weights and I came to London a few days early before the tournament. I wasn't sure if I was in. I was an alternate. But, you know, I am happy with getting into the tournament. I am even happier to win a round and to beat Thomas.

Q. Byron, when did you know that you were playing?

BYRON BLACK: Officially I think it was Saturday night that I knew that -- Bill Babcock told me that I was in the main draw and Andre had pulled out. That is when I officially knew, but I had a feeling that because Andre wasn't playing in the Davis Cup that I would probably be in.

Q. I know you have talked a bit about this before, but on this particular occasion, can you give us some idea of just what the ITF Development Fund did to help you initially, and was it a major boost or was it just a bit of a help or, you know, would you have got here, do you think, without it or was it a real spur?

BYRON BLACK: They really did help me out a lot. I owe a lot to them. When I was 15 years old I went to the All-Africa Junior Championships in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. I won that tournament. That was one of the major tournaments in Africa and I got chosen to go on the Junior ITF Touring Team where we went to all the Grand Slam junior tournaments and it was all paid for by the ITF with a coach and, you know, that really gave me some experience outside of Africa which previously I didn't have. And the following year I did the same thing and Doug MacCurdy, director of development now at the -- got me a place at John Newcombe's Tennis Academy where I went for about nine months before going on to college. As soon as I finished university at University of Southern California, I joined the touring team and I have been with them for the last four years now with Jacques Hervet. So they have really helped me and guided me in my game.

Q. Just continuing that, is there anything that you can be doing now to sort of help further the development in your part in Zimbabwe?

BYRON BLACK: It is a little tough right now, but I really try to make the effort to play Davis Cup and we are getting very close to qualifying for the world zone and that is where, you know, we can bring some top class tennis to Zimbabwe. That is about the most I can do right now for the country because, you know, that really helps the people to see the best players. We don't have the money to have tournaments in Zimbabwe and bring the best players in, so Davis Cup really helps to bring big named players to Zimbabwe. But, you know, when I am done with my tennis I would like to start up an academy in Zimbabwe. We really don't have anything like that. So I'd like to start that up in Harare and be one of the main coaches there and really sort of try and keep them on track and show them how it is done like the rest of the world.

Q. I'd like to talk a little bit about the season. You have been improving a lot this season; especially in the singles. Do you agree with that?

BYRON BLACK: Right. Last year I really tried to go for the doubles. I wanted to try and be No. 1 in the world in doubles, and I achieved that a couple of times last year. And this year, I really wanted to focus on the singles. I started off really slow at the beginning of the year. I had mononucleosis for about five, six months. That really stopped me, but it gave me a rest and time too recuperate. Since then I have been really climbing up fast in the singles, and, you know, I am really excited about the coming year because I think I can go even higher.

End of FastScripts…

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