|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
September 8, 1999
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK
RICK FERMAN: Welcome, everybody. Thank you for coming. I'm Rick Ferman, USTA Executive Director. On behalf of the USTA, we're happy to have you all here this morning for a really terrific announcement concerning the future of our Davis Cup program. Here to take you through the details of the amusements is Judy Levering, President of the USTA. If you would, please hold your questions until the very end. Thank you, very much. Judy.
JUDY LEVERING: Thank you, Rick. First of all, thank you, everyone, for coming here this morning. I hope, judging by the turnout, this means there's great interest in Davis Cup. First, I'd like to acknowledge a few people in the room. John's wife Patty is here. I'd like to say welcome to Patty. Also Mr. and Mrs. McEnroe are with us also. I understand that John Wooster from AIG is here. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank AIG for their sponsorship of the US Davis Cup team, the first such sponsor. That being said, why don't we get right to it. I'm very pleased to announce that John McEnroe is the new United States Davis Cup captain. Briefly, let me tell you about the process that went into the decision. It really wasn't until the beginning of August that it began. Prior to that, I had a lot on my plate as I was the new president of the USTA. We were and are working to grow the game through the USA Tennis Plan for Growth, and we were also planning the Centennial celebration of the Davis Cup in Boston. It wasn't until August that I totally could focus my attention on the captain's position. At that point, I met with the players. I met with Pete, Andre, Todd and Jim in a series of meetings to obtain their input on the captaincy. Basically, I wanted to show the players that I was responsive to their needs and would not make a decision about the future of Davis Cup without their consult. Tom was also aware that I was speaking with the players and would be speaking with several candidates before the decision was made. It was then that I spoke to several extremely qualified candidates, including Tom Gullikson. But before I talk about John, I'd like to say a few words about the job Tom Gullikson has done, because I think Tom did a tremendous job as Davis Cup captain. Not a good job; a great job. Tom served as Davis Cup captain for six years, sometimes under difficult circumstances. Might I also add that that was one of the longest tenures as captain in Davis Cup history, US Davis Cup history. The team won the cup in 1995 and was very competitive most other years and had some wonderful moments with Tom as captain. One of the moments that will always stick with me is the remarkable job Tom did with the team in Birmingham this year. It was so important to win that match in order to give Davis Cup the celebration it deserved in Boston. I want to also add that no one is more loyal than Tom Gullikson, both in his role as Davis Cup captain, and in the important role as USA Tennis Director of Coaching. I want to emphasize that Tom will continue to serve in that role, which will help to shape the future of American tennis. Tom represented the US well, and always made us proud. You may ask, Why the change? Tom skillfully brought Davis Cup to where we are today, and now John has other skills that lead me to believe that this is the right time for him. Why John McEnroe? Well, I believe that John is the best person at this time for the job as Davis Cup captain. It's as simple as that. There is nobody in the world more passionate about Davis Cup or tennis in general than John. He is perhaps the greatest Davis Cup player in the history of the sport. John's record as a player was 59-10. That's remarkable. I think he will be just as successful as captain and bring that same passion and energy as he did as a player. John is certainly the most recognizable figure in the sport of tennis, the most outspoken advocate of Davis Cup, and for tennis. I think it all adds up. He has the respect of the players and everyone involved in tennis. I think this is great for Davis Cup and great for the sport. John joins an illustrious group of Davis Cup captains that include, among others, Dwight Davis, Bill Tilden, Bill Talbert, Tony Trabert, Arthur Ashe and Tom Gullikson. That's quite a group, folks. Now I would like to introduce John McEnroe, the 37th United States Davis Cup captain, then we will take any questions you might have. John.
JOHN McENROE: Well, needless to say, it's one of the proudest moments of my life. Apparently, it took this wonderful lady here to show some guts finally, and I appreciate that. I'll always be indebted to you, Judy. It's only fitting to me, in all honesty, that how many years has the USTA been in existence? Is it 112 years?
JUDY LEVERING: Since 1881.
JOHN McENROE: 1881. Of all things, the first lady president of USTA picks John McEnroe to be captain of Davis Cup (laughter). Let me just grab this paper to say a few words. Obviously I'll thank Judy, Rick Ferman as well, the Executive Director of the USTA. I believe that the USTA has been going in the right direction. Take a look at this facility, the efforts they're making with the kids. I'm happy to be a part of that. Not only do I want to be a part of the Davis Cup, and all you fellows out there know that talking to me throughout the years, but I also want to be part of working with kids. I can't think of a better place to do it than right here, at the National Tennis Center. I'd like to make this right here the mecca of the United States training center. I'm available. I look forward to the opportunity to work together with Judy and the other coaches that are around the country, Rick as well, and we're going to utilize this place, not just two or three weeks a year, but the entire year. That is our goal. I hope that we succeed in that. The people that I'm going to mention are the people that have helped me get to this place. The obvious two being these two wonderful people over here, my mother and my father. Will you please give them a round of applause for me. (Applause.) Probably the one other person, and I'm sad to say he's no longer with us, and unfortunately his missus couldn't make it today, was Harry Hopman. Harry Hopman was part of, I believe, 16 Davis Cup winning teams as a captain. Obviously, all you folks out there know about Harry Hopman. Something very good happened to me when I was about 10 or 11 years old. That was that Harry Hopman, and I don't know the details of this, but I'll be thankful for the rest of my life, had some type of falling out with the Australian Tennis Association where he was the captain from - are you ready for this - 1939 to 1969. He worked with some of these nobody's like Laver and Hoad, Rosewall, et cetera, et cetera, commanded their respect on a day-in and day-out basis. Lo and behold, where does Harry Hopman end up of all places, Port Washington, Long Island, about 15 or 20 minutes from where I grew up. My parents started playing tennis, and if you watch them play now, you'll see they started playing the same time I did, not a whole lot of improvement, unfortunately, since then, but that's okay (laughter). I started playing at about eight-and-a-half years old at a local club. A couple local pros said, "This guy is not bad. You should send him to this Port Washington Tennis Academy" where Harry Hopman was in charge. My parents said, "Well, why not?" Well, because of that move there, and working with people, I'll name one other specific person, Antonio Palofox, who coached me and made me the player that I was, lo and behold, my parents started hearing the stories about Davis Cup. What was drummed into my head at a very early age was, number one, of course this is my mother speaking, "I want you to get a college scholarship and finish college," which of course that didn't happen, but I did go to college, so I got that. Secondly was playing Davis Cup. In those days, there was no tennis in the Olympics. Hopefully, that will be another priority that we do a better job at, figure out a way to get all the top players to play the Olympics, which is one of the greatest sports spectacles we have, or going back to an amateur situation where the best amateurs play, and this is a stepping stone to try to make the Olympic thing more meaningful. At any rate, hearing the stories from Harry for a couple years, it was a goal of mine. Not Wimbledon. Of course, I wanted to win Wimbledon. I apologize to you British journalists. We all knew about Wimbledon, we all knew about the US Open, but that's not what was talked about, it was Davis Cup. Finally, I made some nice progress in my junior career. At 19 years of age, December of 1978, Tony Trabert, who I want to thank, worked with as a colleague on CBS, has worked for a number of years, as Judy mentioned, as Davis Cup captain, my first Davis Cup captain. That was the second match I played. The first match I ever played was as a doubles specialist with Brian Gottfried down in Santiago, Chile. We won that match. The late great Arthur Ashe won the match in Sweden, the semifinals, and, God rest his soul, Vitas Gerulaitis. There was some negative press about the fact, "How can you pick this young guy McEnroe to play singles against Great Britain?" Well, if you want to know what happened, ask these British journalists. I'll always be indebted to Tony, as well, for having the guts to pick me at such a young age. I'll tell you, the effort that I love seeing, I've got to congratulate Todd Martin on his effort last night. That's the type of effort that want to see at the US Open, but also at Davis Cup. We saw what he tried to accomplish when he was running on fumes in Boston. He still almost won that match. Then to do what he did last night, that says a lot about Todd Martin. That's the type of person I want to have on my team. That was absolutely an outstanding effort. We could sit here for hours, and you know I'm capable of talking a lot (laughter), I still haven't finished my Hall of Fame speech, but I'll wait for Friday to do that because there's a Hall of Fame dinner. I want to tell you how proud I am that my wife, Patty Smythe, is here with me, to allow me to be in this place, as Judy was nice enough to say, the time is right for me now. It wasn't right for me before. I congratulate Tom Gullikson on his six years because I know how proud he was to represent his country in Davis Cup, along with my other coaches, Tom Gorman. A quick word about Arthur Ashe. One of my proudest moments was playing with Arthur as captain. We played in Grenoble in '82, I believe, the finals. I know how emotional a moment it was for Arthur. We were playing the finals away from home. But we were also playing someone who he had literally found in Cameroon who was playing with a racquet - I'm talking about Yannick Noah here - that he had carved himself. It's hard to even envision the idea that someone would actually carve their own racquet. You know how I like wood racquets (laughter). Tough to carve those graphite racquets now. To be part of that match, to see the pride in Arthur's face, number one, being able to be the captain of the Davis Cup, and number two, watching the youngster that he helped bring into the top echelons of the game, Yannick Noah, playing against us in the finals. That's another example of what Davis Cup is about. Yannick, by the way, six or eight months later went on and won his French Open title, which is the first time in - I don't remember exactly - 50, 60 years that a Frenchman had ever won it. The same year perhaps arguably my greatest memory playing Mats Wilander in St. Louis where the match was tied at 2-All. Unexpectedly, we were up 2-1. We thought we were going to win the fourth match. It didn't happen. To be part of a match that lasted I believe it was six or seven days, it felt like it - it was only six hours and 30 minutes or 22 minutes. To be able to pull that one out, to jump in the arms of Arthur Ashe, a great team man Bill Norris, he's still hanging on in there, I want to mention him in case he's watching. I don't see him at the US Open this year. Dr. Omar Fareed, God rest his soul, was a beautiful, beautiful man. Judy, I want to congratulate you on bringing Dr. George Fareed back in the fold of Davis Cup. Speaking of beautiful people, George Fareed is a beautiful man. It's nice to see him back there. Probably my most emotional win of all, perhaps my proudest moment, I did want to play some Davis Cup doubles, I was interested in that possibility, but I also knew how much it meant to these other players to have an opportunity to play. I look at Billie Jean's squad that she has for the Federation Cup, and I want to thank Billie Jean for the support she's given me, the push she's given me to get this job. I appreciate that greatly. I look at the team she has now, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles. That's what you would call the Dream Team of American tennis. If they lose that, I'll stand on my head during whatever telecast I do next. I promise you that. I was part of a similar type of team. I'm proud to say in 1992 when Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, myself and Pete Sampras played, I was a measly doubles specialist at that point, but happy to be there. At two sets to love down in the finals, Pete and I - hard to believe that actually Pete was playing doubles only at that time, the way he plays - we came back from two sets to love down. Pete said he loved me after that match. I hope he loves me now (laughter). Obviously one of the priorities is getting Mr. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi to play. I hope that I garner enough respect, and they know how much it means to me. I think I get a sense that it means a lot more to them than they had a couple years ago as they wind down the last couple years of their careers. I hope we're going to have an opportunity the last couple years to have obviously those two. Todd Martin is obviously someone you want to be part of a team, as well as Jim Courier. They're no-brainers; competitors that have made us proud. Just as importantly as getting Sampras and Agassi, and that's important for the next couple years, no question about it, you're talking about two of the greatest players in the history of tennis. Who doesn't want to see these guys out on a tennis court playing Davis Cup? That's obvious. We absolutely want to see them out there. I hope and would be proud that they'd play for me as a Davis Cup captain. But just as importantly as that, this is strictly for America only here, we're looking for the next wave of Americans. This is not going to be easy to duplicate. About ten years ago or longer, we had Andre Agassi come up, we had Pete Sampras come up, we had Jim Courier come up, we had Michael Chang come up. That's quite a foursome. You have to feel for some of these guys that have come up then. "Sure, be better than Sampras or Agassi." "Right, when is that going to happen?" "Be better than Courier or Chang." "Sure." These guys have been 1 and 2 in the world. When you look back on their careers, these are truly great players. My goal, of course I'd love to win a number of Davis Cups, win or lose, I'm honored to be part of the squad, just like when I lost to Becker, that long match at Hartford, I was still proud that I was part of that team despite we lost that and had to go back to the minor leagues, the minor leagues, the United States of America in the minor leagues. I want to be part of trying to find the next group of young players, work with these players, have the opportunity to give them a little of what I have, a little of the knowledge of the game that I have. Judy, thank you so very, very, very, very - how much time do we have - very, very much about giving me this opportunity. I'm going to sit over here. If you have any questions for either one of us, I'd be more than happy to answer them. Thanks. By the way, I forgot to mention Judy's better half, Gordon over there. Gordon Levering, stand up and be counted. 39 years, Gordon and Judy. Thank you, very much, Gordon, as well.
USTA: We'd like to have some questions from you folks.
Q. I wonder if you could share with us what some of the input you got from the players was in your conversation?
JUDY LEVERING: Well, I met with four players. I met with Pete, Andre, Todd and Jim. Basically I asked them to give me two, three, whatever list they might have of potential captains. I asked them if there was anybody they would not play for. I asked them what they thought a captain should be, what the duties should be. At the end of all of that, I met with three of them individually, talked to the fourth twice on the phone, then met with three of them collectively. This is how we came up with the choice. They all said they would like to play for John McEnroe.
JOHN McENROE: You got that on tape, right (laughter)?
JUDY LEVERING: I didn't, but they might.
JOHN McENROE: I'm going to bring one with me.
Q. Are you going to play doubles?
JOHN McENROE: That's a trickier question right now. The answer, off the top of my head, would be no.
Q. Why is that?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I just feel like what I prefer doing at this point would be actually to take the doubles squad that was the best players available and hopefully the expertise I have in doubles to give to them. I've had plenty of opportunity to play. You know that I've talked about playing. I'm not getting any younger. I'd prefer to see a couple youngsters that perhaps are a little green, try to work with them. You have Sampras and Agassi, for example. I'll repeat obviously once again, I'm hopeful to have them on the team. You got a pretty good start. You only have to win three-out-of-five. Pretty good odds they're going to win three-out-of-four matches. There's a little bit of flexibility to work with some people. I wouldn't say that it's impossible, but I would say it's certainly doubtful at this time.
Q. Will this cut into your playing program as a senior player?
JOHN McENROE: I sure hope so (laughter).
Q. Is this a first step in a plan to be the Commissioner of Tennis?
JOHN McENROE: Well, you got me on that one. No, it's not a first step. This is, to me, totally unrelated. As I've stated publicly, I'm certainly interested in being part of the Davis Cup, which thankfully I am now. I would love to be part of the Junior Development Program, particularly at this very place which I started here the very first year I played. I broadcast here now. I grew up 15 minutes away from here. I ball-boyed at Forest Hills. I'd like to see the New York area be the mecca of the United States tennis program. If I can help in any way, there's no commissioner in the sport of tennis. I do think that a commissioner of some kind is needed. It's certainly something that, if I honestly believe I had the time to do it and do it properly, I would be interested in at some point. Clearly that's down the road. This is right now. I don't think I'm going to be having to worry about that for a while. I think this step took quite a while. Back in the end of '92 when we won for the last time, I had the support of Jim, Andre and Pete there where publicly they stated they felt I should be the next captain. It turned out the time was right and seven years went by. Perhaps in seven years when I have my run as Davis Cup captain, if I'm lucky enough, I can move to some type of role like that.
Q. You said the time wasn't right before and it is right now. Why wasn't it right before for you and why is it right now?
JOHN McENROE: Well, emotionally I was going through a difficult personal situation. I don't think my focus would have been as -- I wouldn't have been as effective as I hope to be right now. I think I needed some time away from the game. Time away from things sometimes gives you appreciation for what you don't have and what you want to be a part of. I won five Davis Cups as a player. I was part of a number of other teams. I'd like to think I'm a better person now and a more mature person. I feel like it actually has turned out that this was a proper time. I can't think of a better way to be captain than to have the first lady president. In addition to all that time, I started having two boys. I've since had three girls, two with my lovely wife here, Patty. That's given me an incredibly different perspective on the women's game (laughter). In another year or two, I'm going to be saying that the women should get more than the men.
Q. Have you given any thought to which nation you're looking forward to opposing the most?
JOHN McENROE: Bring them all on.
Q. Once in a while you've been criticized for your behavior .
JOHN McENROE: No (laughter).
Q. Occasionally you criticize the USTA. Many in the group frankly have been saying the last thing they wanted was for you to become Davis Cup captain.
JOHN McENROE: Would you care to name names on that? I'd like to put that down in my book right now (laughter).
Q. Two questions. Do you think it's a kind of vindication for you? Secondly, what does it say about the USTA and its change over the years?
JOHN McENROE: I think that we both changed, and hopefully both changed for the better. That's the plan. I think that Judy's got the opportunity to do some great things with the grass-roots part of the game. That's what both of us would be looking to do. Let's face it, Judy and I, in different ways, have been around this sport for a long time. We both love the game of tennis. Judy even told me the other day that she watched me and Peter Fleming play Smith and Lutz at the 1978 Wimbledon second round where we saved five or six match points and went on to get to our first ever Wimbledon doubles final. There's been a history where I personally feel we both have the same goals. I think that we're both heading in the right direction. Let's face it, I'd like to think we both learned from some mistakes and that we're better because of it. The best part of all is that we've given ourselves the opportunity, "Hey, we make mistakes, but that doesn't mean that the answer is 'no' the rest of your life." I firmly believe that in the next five or ten years, more kids are going to be given the opportunity to play this great sport. It's as simple as that. You're going to see better and better players coming from America.
Q. Knowing that this might come about, have you had conversations with either Pete or Andre?
JOHN McENROE: No, I have not had specific conversations as of this time, this very moment. You better believe I'll be having them soon. I'm not going to bother Andre right now while he's involved in the US Open. I'd be more than happy to fly out to talk to Pete, if that's what it takes. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with him personally. I prefer to do that rather than over the phone. I'm hoping that both of them will come on board immediately.
Q. Andre was adamant he would never play Davis Cup again. Do you think he would consider changing his mind?
JOHN McENROE: I think he's already in the process. I believe he's going to play Davis Cup again. Andre is a great team player. He really is.
Q. What is your sales pitch to someone who is on the bubble? Why should they want to represent their country in Davis Cup?
JOHN McENROE: Why shouldn't they? I mean, I've never understood why people haven't in the first place. Perhaps politics gets involved. Scheduling could be better with Davis Cup. I'd like to see it come to the level of virtually The Majors. That's my goal, to bring Davis Cup to a much, much higher level. I was lucky enough to buy a couple years ago, after Fred Perry passed away, they sold his memorabilia at an auction. I got up at about 5 or 6 in the morning. I got a little cigarette case that had the names of the players that had won that Davis Cup. I believe - maybe the British journalists can help me - 1936 or 1938 perhaps. They had the names. They played, I believe, seven matches from January to July. They had a picture of Fred Perry hoisted up on by all the people in the train station in a fabulous energy that it appeared to be generated when they won the Davis Cup. I feel that that's something that we need in the sport of tennis. It's far more important than all those superfluous tournaments being played. Way too many tournaments. Hopefully that will be changed in a hope that the players, all the players, not just the players from America, would be part of it.
Q. I think that was '33.
JOHN McENROE: '33. I'll check my case.
Q. Did you ever talk to Fred about Davis Cup?
JOHN McENROE: We talked a little bit about it. Fred, you know, certainly was a great personality. It was great to see him around Wimbledon when we came around. It was certainly sad. He left a great legacy. I was glad to have a little part of his legacy, quite honestly. It's something I'm very proud to have. It never will be for sale.
Q. Can you make this crystal clear. In your conversations with Pete Sampras, he said to you that he would play for John McEnroe, is that right?
JUDY LEVERING: Pete will tell you that I had his blessing on the naming of John, yes.
Q. The players have said that they not only wanted say in who the captain would be in the past, but they've also said they wanted say on where the sites would be, what surface, things like that. Are you going to give them more say in those areas, too?
JUDY LEVERING: Well, from here on out, we have a captain who will be communicating those desires to us, and then we'll be talking with John. We'll come up with the best. See, what happens on the decision for a venue for one of these ties is that it has to be bookable, you know, a short amount of time ahead. There are a lot of little details that we have to work with. But we want to accommodate the players the best we can. It's John's job to communicate that to us.
Q. You've always been a great supporter for Davis Cup. Do you think that Davis Cup needs a little bit of restructure of the formula? The problem in the past for the player was playing in small city, it was a problem. Do you think something could be done to change the format, to make it more popular?
JOHN McENROE: If something needs to be done to make it more popular, I would certainly discuss it without question. I never had a problem with the formula. I had a problem with some of the scheduling. Some of the weeks they were scheduled was a problem. I think that some of the players even now. If you watched your Davis Cup finals last year in Italy, I believe it was sometime in December, I just feel that there's got to be better scheduling done, that you need to put it in a position where it can allow itself to become more popular on its own merits. Let's face it, the players are the key to this whole thing. You want every player from every country to be available, barring some type of injury. It certainly should be something that's discussed. I would, for example, and I know this is not going to happen next year, but if we were to get the Olympics back as a part of where all players played the Olympics, for example, and that was something that actually really meant something, which is a little dubious, although I'm proud to say that Andre Agassi considers it one of his best moments, winning the Gold Medal. Perhaps you can discuss the possibility of an idea where there's no Davis Cup that one year so you allow the people to focus. You make the format of the Olympics more like Davis Cup. Instead of just sort of this individual tournament, have it played the same way as Davis Cup. Maybe two out of three; two singles and one doubles. These things should clearly be discussed. With the amount of tournaments that these players are expected to play, which is quite honestly way too many, until that's changed, until you have the support of the Players Association, you're going to continue to butt heads.
Q. Had you given up on getting this job?
JOHN McENROE: I don't give up easily. I didn't give up when I was playing; I wasn't going to give up on the idea of being captain. It's been a number of years since I last participated - seven - but I've been fortunate enough to be involved in tennis in other ways, ways I didn't expect to be involved in, whether it was commentating at the Majors or part of a Seniors Tour, which I'm happy to say has allowed me to enjoy the game at the ripe old age of 40. No, of course I hadn't given up.
Q. How would you handle a situation, as was the case in Boston, where there was one player, Pete in particular, says, "I'm available, but I'm only available for doubles," but the team would actually need him for singles?
JOHN McENROE: I don't know the details for that. I prefer not to look at the past at this time. It doesn't make any sense to cry over spilt milk. That was obviously a position that was awkward in some ways. It's easy to be a backseat driver at this point. "Well, I would have done this." That's absurd at this point to even discuss. I prefer to look ahead. I'm sure I'm going to have some tough decisions to make of my own.
Q. How long have you taken this gentleman on board for? Is it an annual agreement?
JUDY LEVERING: Traditionally, it was an annual agreement.
JOHN McENROE: I thought it was like a ten-year deal (laughter).
JUDY LEVERING: It can roll over.
Q. In your discussions with the four players, I was wondering was it unanimous that everybody gave you John's name or did they actually give you any other names to consider?
JUDY LEVERING: The discussions was more than one discussion. Yes, there was a small pool. The consensus at the end was the selection we've made.
Q. We are talking Davis Cup here, but tennis is still an individual sport. You are in a lucky situation, you can judge. You won seven singles titles, five Davis Cup. Compare the satisfaction between the two.
JOHN McENROE: The satisfaction is absolutely equal to me. In a sense, I feel it was an unfair question asked, not an unfair question, but something that was asked my partner, Ted Robinson asked me: Would someone rather win a US Open or win a Davis Cup? Well, of course, we're in an incredibly selfish game. Having said that, that question shouldn't have to be answered. The answer should be both of them for different reasons. But to put one or the other doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, obviously everyone in tennis wants to win a major title. There's no question about that. I'd also like to think that everyone in tennis wants to be part of a Davis Cup team. I think there's a lot more team players out there than people realize. It's lonely doing this year in, year out. This is a great opportunity for players to get together as a group, in my opinion, and to actually spend a week where they don't have to tiptoe around on eggshells, wonder whether or not what they're talking about. They can sit and have some dinner together, talk about it. That's one of the things that I think the Australians have brought back with Newcombe and Roche as a captain and coach. As a matter of fact, I was just speaking yesterday with Mark Woodforde, and he was saying how much it meant to him that he'd come down, getting ready for a doubles match, say in Boston, where Judy told me just to start we had 50 American players that had played Davis Cup in the past, which is incredible. That's the type of thing you want, that mark Woodforde would walk downstairs and he'd see guys like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, Fred Stolle, John Newcombe and Tony Roche being the captains, Roy Emerson, on and on. That's quite an inspiration for players that are playing now, to feel not only that they care enough to be there, but on top of that, you could ask them something. These guys know something about tennis. These guys know what's going on.
Q. In the past, many times the United States lost some Davis Cup matches because of doubles, because you were calling two specialists to play doubles, because nobody wanted to sit in the bench between the singles players. You had No. 1, No. 2, a pair of doubles specialists who were not as good as other players. What do you think about that philosophy? Do you think it's going to change?
JOHN McENROE: I would like to see the best players available. Pete Sampras could not play a match for five years in doubles, if you stuck him out there in doubles, he could play great tennis. Same with Agassi. I think the same capability with the other two players that have been playing recently, Todd and Jim. To me, you have to take into account, for example, what happens if one guy comes down with some type of injury, whatever, is sick. The idea is to have two options. You either have a doubles team where one of the two players is a very good singles player. In case the two singles players you have, one of them gets hurt, then you have a great singles player. Or you just pick the four best players available and you just bank on winning three of the five matches. So what? The first time I ever played a match was with Brian Gottfried, we had never played a match before. We practiced for a week and we were able to defeat our opponents.
Q. How will the fact that you're captain change your approach to umpire?
JOHN McENROE: I have to be a slightly more nice, gentler side.
Q. On the same theme, you're going back into the international arena again. Are you going to be more of an ambassador and diplomat this time or as fiercely competitive?
JOHN McENROE: I'd like to think both. I hope to be both. As a matter of fact, I was hoping I was heading that way already. Now that I have the captaincy to go along with it, I feel there's an added responsibility to be more of an ambassador. In some ways, that's a very proud thing to have, to be able to feel, because you have an opportunity when your best playing days are over, to still be part of this great sport and give something back. A lot has been given to me. My job is to make not only players like Pete, Andre, Jim and Todd, but the other players realize how lucky they are to have a job as good as this.
Q. Can you tell us what Tom's reaction was when you informed him of the decision, that you were going to pick John?
JUDY LEVERING: To show you what a class act or tell you what a class act Tom is, he told me before the decision was made that he would very much like the job again, very much, but regardless of the decision, he would accept it graciously.
Q. If we would have won the cup this year in Boston, went on to win it, do you think you would have made the change? Do you think the USTA needed to go in a different direction now?
JUDY LEVERING: Again, I had promised the players back in January that before the next decision was made, that I would consult with them. That was before we knew what was going to happen at all. That's the same answer. I mean, I wouldn't have spoken -- as soon as I had spoken to them, then I would factor it in with other things, make the decision. The loss or potential win wouldn't have made it different.
Q. With the time it will take in this new position, how does it stand with you playing senior tennis?
JOHN McENROE: Well, someone asked me that just a few minutes ago. The answer is that my priority would be, as much as I enjoy playing some events, the priority would be this. I still plan on playing some events. I'm not sure. Judy and I will certainly have more discussions, frequent ones. I'll get a better idea of how much time this actually takes before I commit to what I'm going to be doing next year. I also have six children to take care of.
Q. Todd Martin has said there's way too much money paid to Davis Cup players.
JOHN McENROE: I couldn't agree with him more.
Q. It should all go to charity. Do you want to share what your salary will be and will you give it to charity?
JOHN McENROE: That hasn't been determined yet. I've accepted the job. I guess she could throw me a dollar-a-year job and I'd have to take it. I certainly feel, and I don't know if it's necessary, I'm not saying that a hundred percent of the money, but I certainly feel a great portion of the money, and that's something that I'm definitely going to sit down with the players. I think that's something we should definitely head towards, without question. If I set the first example by doing what the measly captain's salary is as compared to what the players are getting to play, hopefully they will do the same. I suspect they will. Todd couldn't be more correct about it.
Q. What do you think about the fact that the President of the USTA changes every two years?
JOHN McENROE: I think it's horrible right now (laughter).
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.