September 9, 1994
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Can you give us a basic analysis of what this match would be like tomorrow; what are the key elements to win?
RICK FERMAN: Well, I think that it's going to be a real shootout; you've got two guys that like to really swing away at the ball, and I think for Todd it is a matter of staying very aggressive and serving well and first serve percent has to be good and he's got to be aggressive and I think he's got to move forward off the baseline a little bit and probably handle the environment well-- and Robert, to my left has prepared him for the tournament. He's got a bunch of guys working with him, so maybe Robert could answer that as well, too.
Q. Robert, if you can fill it in by doing that, what Rick just talked about; what can Todd do to hurt or beat Andre; what parts of the game will to do to do have to try to exploit in Andre's game tomorrow?
R. VAN'T HOF: I guess like Rick said, a lot of today's game, if he serves well, he can be aggressive. He can serve and volley. Might get some short returns and be able to come to the net on the first ball, so, you know, serving as they always say is probably, if you are serving well, you are going to play well. So it kind of sets you up for the points.
Q. Rick, you mentioned handling the environment. Do you think it is going to be a very pro-Agassi crowd tomorrow.
R. FERMAN I don't believe that it will be a pro-Agassi crowd, but I do expect that the Agassi supporters will be perhaps a little louder at the outset. Todd Martin has always represented himself extremely well in these situations and the crowd appreciates his approach to competitive play and the way he handles himself. So I think you will see him have a very significant amount of support from all parts of the stadium. And I think it will be a terrific look at American tennis and a guy that goes out and keeps his nose clean and two guys that want to do well on Sunday. So I think Todd will do well with the environment. But at the outset of the match, I think that is an issue for him. It is one of his challenges.
Q. Can we dismiss either one, either Rick or Robert, do we dismiss -- what happened at Wimbledon because obviously the change of surface here and possibly the change in Andre or do we take something out of what happened at Wimbledon a couple of months ago?
ROBIN REYNOLDS: No, I think Wimbledon is great. Obviously Todd beat him in the last Grand Slam and that is mentally. Todd got to feel good about that and Andre knows that, you know, Todd can beat him there, and in the big matches, so I think that is great. I think, yeah, I mean, Wimbledon, you know, Todd could serve and volley on first and second serves and come in all the time because of grass courts, and here at the U.S. Open, you are going to have to be a lot more picky about when you come in and choose your spots a lot more wisely, so... It will help him mentally, but this match is going to be a little bit different.
Q. We have gone through now where so many players have gone directly into the pros from high school. Does Todd, coming on late in his career so to speak, does that tell us anything; do we want to look again at the patterns of when to turn pro as a result of Todd's results?
R. WOODS: I think there is no question that a lot of parents and kids are taking a second look at it. It doesn't matter so much when you turn pro, but when you are ready as an individual and I think particularly on the male side, more of our young players are saying maybe a year or two of college is really good for us. And our top juniors Paul Goldstein and Scott Humphries and John Roddick are all going to college next year; kind of interesting to see a group from the national team all make the decision that they want a year or two of college. Our coaching staff feels pretty good about that because we think that benefits collegiate tennis a chance to mature physically and emotionally is probably good for the young players and we have seen over the seven years that we have been operating player development, that we have seen some pretty tough cases of kids that have turned pro too early. That is the worst thing. The worst thing is to turn pro when you are not ready for it. If you delay it a little bit, it doesn't hurt you that much.
Q. Gully, looking at this match, doing anything for Sweden; are you watching anything that happens tomorrow for your choices and where does Todd stand; especially Todd in this selection?
TOM GULLIKSON: I think obviously you are looking at two of the best four players in the world this two-week period, so certainly Todd is looking good and Andre is playing some great tennis, so I mean, either one or both of them would be great. They both have different schedules. They both have different commitments, but we will be making announcement on the team very soon.
Q. Is Todd available?
TOM GULLIKSON: Todd is available.
Q. Who else is available out of the top candidates or who is not available if there is only one or two?
TOM GULLIKSON: Pete is not available. And we are looking at some other situations.
Q. You haven't made a determination as to whether or not you want to play Courier?
TOM GULLIKSON: I talked to Jim this morning. He is not available. But that is all I really can say at this time.
Q. What about Chang?
TOM GULLIKSON: That is all I can say at this time. I will have an announcement later on that.
Q. When will that announcement be?
TOM GULLIKSON: Within the next couple of days.
Q. What is your reaction to this now, Gully, now that your two top guys, for one reason or the other, are not available?
TOM GULLIKSON: We have got a lot of good players left.
Q. Have you talked to a player who was born in Las Vegas?
TOM GULLIKSON: I think this is on Todd Martin.
Q. After seven years of player development, would you consider Todd Martin to be the No. 1 success story of all the guys who have run through it?
R. WOODS: I guess I certainly said that he has taken the most advantage of the program at every level and right now he has certainly hit the highest pinnacle of success his performance this year in the Grand Slams and I think it is particularly instructive because when he was a young player in junior tennis, I don't think anybody picked him as an outstanding prospect that was a can't-miss candidate. People know that. They understand that and that gives hope to an awful lot of kids who are going to be late bloomers and have a chance to be determined and keep working on their games. So that is terrific for American tennis. And Todd was smart enough and wise enough to use all the different coaches from our staff and supplement those, that information with the good information and foundation he had gotten from Rick Ferman and that is a great model too, that you don't have to be locked into just one coach; that you pick up some ideas from a variety of people as your game develops.
Q. Rick or Robert, talking with Brad earlier today, he said that, you know, if form holds up, Andre plays well, he is picking, obviously, he thinks Andre is going to win. How do you guys, you know, are you willing to take a pick here and go out on record and saying what is going to happen tomorrow?
ROBIN REYNOLDS: I will go on a limb and pick Todd. I think Todd is playing well, and I like Todd's chances --
R. FERMAN I will go a little further out on the same limb. Todd Martin has not played his best tennis in this tournament yet. He has survived three matchpoints in the first round playing probably a little sub-par tennis and you got to like that because tomorrow could be the day when he plays his very best tennis and a guy that can make it this far in a tournament of this magnitude without playing his best tennis is got to be somebody that is formidable in terms of finishing up really well at the end of the tournament. So I think you are going to see Todd play really well and he is certainly a hard court player.
Q. What are the advantages or feelings of liabilities of Todd having the two days?
ROBIN REYNOLDS: I think that it is great because he is a big guy and he pounds hard on the hard courts and he has had a lot of chances to think about what he is doing. He is getting much great input from the coaches around him, Tom and Robert and Jose Higueras, some terrific insight in terms of what he should be doing on those two days and how to prepare for the match and so I think it is -- I think he is gradually building to full preparation for the match tomorrow. I think it is terrific.
Q. I am a little surprised maybe you guys are -- maybe you -- Robert is pretty much telling me he thinks Todd has been playing well. You are telling me he hasn't played well, which is basically how Brad Gilbert has seen it. Do you guys seeing something different?
ROBIN REYNOLDS: Let me. . .
R. FERMAN: Let me try and clarify that for you. I think Todd is hitting the ball well but he hasn't played particularly well in a couple of his matches. I think he is stroking through the ball well and he knows that and he knows also that maybe he let a few games slip away; that he had chances to win, but he is hitting the ball well and he is looking to play well tomorrow, so I don't necessarily think there is a conflict.
TOM GULLIKSON: That is the definition of playing well. If you win a match when you are not playing your best tennis, you are playing well. You don't have to play great to win tennis matches. You just have to play better than the other guy. That is the whole point of playing tennis and, you know, if some guy is playing very average and you play just a step above average, you are probably going to win the match. So I agree with Rick and Robert, I think Todd hasn't played his best tennis yet, maybe he will go out and play his best tennis tomorrow. And when Todd is playing his best tennis he can dictate the terms of the match really against anyone because the combination of the big first serve and also a great return of serve, Todd can start off the points very well. I would think that would be the key against Andre, because if Andre can get Todd running and make Todd play a lot of defense, I think Todd would be in for a long day, but I think Todd can get control of the points very early on in the points, I think he can dictate, you know, to Andre that way.
Q. Ron, in almost every interview we ask the players, well, if you could go back and do something differently, what would you do. If you could go back over the development of player development, is there anything you would do differently looking back?
RON WOODS: I think it is pretty clear that after seven years we are determined that we need to keep the net as wide as possible and not concentrate our energy on too few players; that we have got to make sure that we give as many kids in the United States a chance to come through the system because there are a lot of talented athletes and the question we had to ask ourselves for a couple of years, if we took 25 kids and worked with them really hard and we took another 25 and gave them those same advantages, we pretty much have come to a decision and problem will when the second 25 might do as well as the first 25. We have got to provide opportunities for as many kids as possible because you never know who the superstars are that are going to come out, just don't know at a young age and that is the challenge.
Q. Follow-up, Ron, USTA has made some commitments to recreational development and outreach. Looks like there is some additional moves. But would you like to see a real -- I mean, asserted commitment along the lines that there have been with player development just outreach throughout the country; is that something that you'd like to see?
RON WOODS: I think we can do a better job in entry programs of getting kids into an entry level program and then challenging them to be better players and I don't call that recreational tennis. I think tennis is all the same. I don't understand recreational basketball, and baseball. I don't really believe in those concepts. I think you get into a game and certain kids decide they want to really be good. And we need to try to provide opportunities to kids from every ethnic background to get a -- they should have an opportunity to be as good as they could possibly be and we got to wet their appetite and some kids will be real competitive and some, it won't be as important and they will play more casual tennis and become lifetime players of tennis at their clubs or at the park and it will be healthy for them. But, boy, there are a lot of kids there that aren't getting the opportunities to get into competitive programs; that, I think, is our real challenge; more kids into that.
Q. It seems like an accurate statement that Todd has taken the resources of this program more than anybody else. Do you have any -- I was just curious, any explanation why he has taken more advantage than some of the other players?
RON WOODS: I think he was fortunate, in one way, Rick has been his coach and Rick is involved in the USTA and Player Development and I think Rick saw some possibilities that maybe some other coaches weren't aware of a few years ago and I think that has helped him a great deal. I also think Todd is a very perceptive young man and he seems to thrive on gathering information from a variety of sources and then distilling it and kind of coming up with his plan. That is not true of everything. Some kids just want one coach to tell them what to do; make it simple and then just do that. People have different personalities.
Q. Guys, to a large degree, Agassi has been the media darling here for the last two weeks; getting a lot of coverage and the USTA has been promoting Todd the last couple of weeks in a very big way. How important is it to you that Todd go out there and beat him tomorrow? Are there some emotions involved here? Do you want to see him go out there and kind of spank Agassi around?
RICK FERMAN: All the way through Todd's development, no one match has ever been held out to him as being more important than his long-term development and a careful approach to putting the right pieces in place, so for Todd personally, it is an opportunity match to add to the great year he is having. But this will not define his career in any way. There are many more big matches for him. From the USTA's standpoint, I think it is an enviable situation having two of the four semifinalists come from this country guaranteeing a spot on Sunday in the final, which has, as you all know, many repercussions out in the field, so we are happy to see -- I think we are happy to see two American players out there. It is unfortunate we don't have a shot at having both of them come through, but one of them will do well on Sunday as well.
Q. Rick, a few weeks ago Todd was talking to me. He said basically he felt through his junior career he was -- and collegiate career he was responsible for the tennis decisions; his parents basically were no the background; felt he understood that. Do you feel you had a bigger role in those decisions than maybe his family or how is that -- I mean --
RICK FERMAN: I don't think any of us involved with Todd take the time to add up the pennies of input that we give Todd along the way and try to determine whose proportion of input was greater and so on. His parents certainly did a great job with this young man. If you ask Player Development and the USTA to do a scenario of what you'd like from parents supporting young players, you might just say, you know, go talk with the Martins because they did it right. They did it well. So Todd is correct. He made virtually all of the decisions and one of the tough things that I have always found and I think Player Development agrees with this, is that you know, players tend not to take responsibility for what happens, and they look for avenues to shed that responsibility. Whether it is carrying their rackets to the tournament table or who gets the water in the cooler, the player is ultimately responsible and one of the things that Todd insisted on early and everybody around him supported was that he would make the decisions whether he played basketball in high school, or tennis, or whether he played golf on Saturday or worked out for three hours. Because he had the long-term view of his development that he has, and made good decisions, I think you have a player that you have today.
Q. Thanks a lot.
PAGE CROSLAND: On behalf of the USTA, I don't think that the USTA has been promoting Todd Martin. I think we have two American players in the semifinals; one who is very well-known and one who is not very well-known. And we simply -- we offered Brad Gilbert the same opportunity to meet with the press and we -- it is our responsibility to make sure that both of them are well-known to the television audience and to the media.
R. WOODS: I would agree with that 100%.
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