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September 8, 2004
NEW YORK CITY
RANDY WALKER: Thank you for joining us. Let's kick it off. Patrick will announce the team. We'll open it up for questions. It's US versus Belarus, September 24 through 26 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, South Carolina. Turn it over to Patrick.
PATRICK McENROE: Thanks, Randy. Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and the Bryan brothers will be our team - big shocker for you all. Scoville Jenkins will be there as a practice partner. Maybe I will bring in one more of the Juniors as a practice partner. Just haven't made that decision yet. So that's the plan.
RANDY WALKER: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. What was the final decision on Mardy Fish or Vince Spadea?
PATRICK McENROE: I think, to me, it was three guys: It was Spadea, Fish and Taylor Dent. You know, they all didn't play too well here, but I got to spend quite a bit of time with all of them at the Olympics and was obviously very happy with what I saw from both Mardy and Taylor; both had good tournaments there. I believe in Mardy. I think Mardy has gotten -- still has a tremendous upside. I feel like he's still just scratched the surface of what he's capable of doing. He's got a lot of game. I feel like it's a good matchup for him. He beat Mirnyi at the Olympics, which helped, and I just like the type of talent and firepower that he brings. We need to get him -- we need to keep pushing him in what I think is the right direction, which is to get stronger, get tougher. As he does that, I feel like his results will be more consistent.
Q. What do you think he gained from the Olympic experience, Mardy?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I mean, I think Mardy understands that he's got a game that is imposing, you know, that he can impose on other players. I think what he did very well in Athens was he played his game, which, to me, is an aggressive game - serve-volley, a lot of the time, and looked to attack, you know, looked to come in. I think when he does that, I just think he plays better, he plays with more intensity. That's one of the things that I liked what I saw from him in Athens, his intensity was better match in, match out. I think the harder he works on that on a daily basis in practice, I think that will really help him. Sometimes he gets a little bit negative on the court, and, you know, his feet get a little flat. I think that all stems from his attitude, you know. And I think if we can continue to work on that - and then that's obviously a big, big part of my job with him - I feel like, as I said, I mean, I legitimately think he's a Top 10 player. But we've got to keep pushing him and keep believing in him. I believe in him, and I think that this is another great opportunity for him.
Q. He's had some pretty big wins. You never seem to get the bounce out of him into the next tournament, next final. Got to the final in Cincinnati, goes out to Karol Kucera here. What specifically has to happen to make him tougher?
PATRICK McENROE: I think he's got to put the work in. I think he's got to put the work in every day. You know, when Andy Roddick goes out in practices, he's intense all the time, every time. Mardy is obviously a different type of personality. He likes to play sort of a flowing type of style. But in saying that, I believe that if he brings more intensity to what he does every day -- see, I think when you practice things, you then do them in a match, and you do them just without having to think about doing them. To me, if Mardy just brings up his intensity just a little bit, I think when he gets nervous in a match, which we all do, you know, you can go to that. I think part of the reason he lost here was, you know, he gets into a fourth or fifth set, gets a little frustrated, starts getting a little lackadaisical, gets irritated at certain things going on. When those things happen - and they happen - if you have a certain work ethic that you've done, I think you can go back to those things. I think it's really a consistency thing. As you've just said, and we've seen, Mardy's talent to beat anybody in the world is there and to get hot, get on a run, is obvious. But it's a question of doing -- the difference between being a guy who's ranked 20 to 25 and being a guy ranked in the Top 10 is consistency and, I believe that comes from your work ethic. Because if you do the work physically all the time, mentally it's a little easier for you.
Q. You said that you believe he can be a Top 10 player. Do you think that Mardy truly believes that? Have you seen maybe a difference in how he sees himself in that respect?
PATRICK McENROE: I think he believes it, but I think he has to do the work to get there. I think, as I've always said about, you know, the young guys, especially, moving up the rankings, the higher you get, the tougher it becomes to move up. It's hard to get to the Top 150. It's harder to get to the Top 75, etc. Mardy has gotten now into the Top 20. To get from 20 to 10 I think is a significant jump. I think he's extremely capable of doing that. Yeah, at the end of the day, he's got to want it. I believe he does. I believe that if he continues to do the work, that he'll get there.
Q. Do you feel like he has shown more of the propensity to do that? You've clearly been harping on that with him over the last year?
PATRICK McENROE: It's a constant work in progress. Mardy is a good kid, and he needs to be pushed and I intend to keep pushing him. That's part of my job. You know, sometimes that can irritate him, but that's okay, you know. I mean, if it takes me to irritate him to keep pushing him, that's what I'm going to do. I do it because I believe in him, and I believe he can get more out of what he has. In saying that, he's still done damn well so far. But I like to challenge him, you know, and I've done it -- I've certainly done it with Andy over the years. He's at the point now where he doesn't need it. He's challenging himself every day. That's nice to see. This is, for me, is sort of the rewarding part of the job, the fun part of the job, is to really be in there with these guys. Obviously, I'm not their day-in, day-out coach, so I have to walk that fine line between, you know -- my goal is not to piss them off, but my goal is to get them better (smiling), and to do what I think I can do to help them get better.
Q. Hitting partner?
PATRICK McENROE: Scoville Jenkins will be one. The other one, I haven't decided yet, but we may bring one more.
Q. Looking at the likely matchups, can you talk about how they will shape up from what you see, especially on the surface?
PATRICK McENROE: Part of the reason we went to Charleston is the conditions, I believe, will be favorable for us with the relatively slow hard court, outdoors, same balls as we are using here, hot conditions, pretty humid. So I think we've done what we can do to give ourselves the advantage, because both of their guys prefer to play on fast courts. Obviously, Roddick can play on any hard court. He told me, "Just make sure it's not slippery, as in clay, and I'll be fine."
We tinker with the speed of the hard court based on our opposition. So I feel like it will be tough for them. They're essentially a two-man team, to play singles and doubles in those kind of conditions. We want to make them work. Our goal -- we've got two great singles players, we've got a great doubles team, so we can gear ourselves up for those matches. If they're going to beat us, they're going to have to work awfully hard to do it. We respect what they can bring to the table. Voltchkov is a flashy guy, a shot-maker, he's capable of playing, you know, one great match. He got to the semis at Wimbledon, so he's not a total bluff in that sense. Anybody that can do that can play. Mirnyi is obviously as competitive as they come, a tough serve-volley player. He just played Andy 7-6 in the third a couple weeks ago in Cincy. We know what he brings and we're going to make sure we're ready.
Q. Do you have any intelligence on the...
PATRICK McENROE: No, I have no intelligence. You know that, Charlie.
Q. On the somewhat mysterious medical condition of Vladimir Voltchkov?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I watched him play in Athens. I saw him play singles. He actually played doubles against the Bryans. I didn't see the match because we had two singles guys playing at that same time. He was fine. Apparently he's having a little trouble, I believe, with his wrist, is what I heard, which is why he didn't come here to play the quallies. He was supposed to play the quallies. But this is a guy who plays a couple tournaments then sort of disappears for a few months, then shows up against Argentina and drills somebody in straight sets on lightning fast courts, obviously. So we're aware of what he can do. I think he played Kiefer at the Olympics. So I watched him play some of that match. You know, physically, he looked fine to me. He didn't look like he was enjoying the heat too much, but that's another reason we went to Charleston - in addition to it being a beautiful town.
Q. I'd like to ask a question not on the topic of Davis Cup. What's your opinion on instant replay in tennis? After last night, there was some discussion.
PATRICK McENROE: We've been having this in lots of matches. This is certainly not the first time. I'm of the opinion we should work towards using it. You know, obviously, different people have different opinions on whether or not this particular system is 100 percent accurate. I think it's pretty close. I don't know. I just don't know. I just know what I see in the booth and on TV. But in my mind, we should have something where it's used, you know, and maybe it's not used every point, but maybe you get a couple of challenges per set type of thing. I think that would be fun for the fans. I think it would be good for the game. I think it would be good for tennis. I think it would help with some calls. What was the match -- wasn't it the women's final in the Australian, Henin and Clijsters this year, there was another huge call? I mean, it's not like this is the first time. This has happened. In my mind, last night, you know, Jennifer deserved to win the match. That was my read on it. I think Serena got, obviously, some bad calls. But she made 57 errors, and a lot of those were because Jennifer was scrappy and clawing and fighting. I thought she deserved to win the match - taking nothing away from Serena; she competed great and she'll be back. To me, that wasn't the reason she lost the match.
Q. Has your view of instant replay changed since you got in the booth?
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah. Well, I mean, when I was playing, we didn't really have that much. I mean, we had the Mat-Cam at that point, but that was only on two lines at the US Open. But I certainly think that, you know, with the technology that's out there and available, to me, it's a good system to have, you know. If the chair umpire's got it right there, the replay, it's proven to be -- even if it's 99.9 percent accurate, it's probably still more accurate than some of the calls that we're seeing and some of the decisions that are being made. I think it's an improvement. I think it adds something to the game for the viewer, which I think is important. I think it adds a little more intrigue to, you know, a player making the decision, "Do I question that one? Do I use up one of my...?" Cliff Drysdale has always been a proponent of that. He's sort of convinced me through the last couple years that I like that. At first I thought, "Maybe it's not great. Maybe you shouldn't do it all the time." I think it adds a nice little spice, I think it could add a nice little spice to the match and to the sport. I think we should be looking for ways to do that to attract more fans.
Q. Even if the technology, somewhere down the road, becomes so good that we do get 98, 99 percent accuracy level, isn't there the fundamental, philosophic question of whether or not we want to take the human element out of this game?
PATRICK McENROE: First of all, you have humans playing, so that's number one (laughter). You're going to have a human in the chair.
Q. We're talking about calling the lines.
PATRICK McENROE: I understand that. Let's face it, they're not an integral part of the match, the lines people. They do their thing and it's sort of a nice part of the game. But, I mean, I don't know too many people who are turning on the TV to watch the linesmen. In saying that, I think you can still have them and you can use this technology as a way to enhance the line calling. You may still have them there. Maybe you have them on a couple less lines than you might have right now. So, no, I don't think it completely takes it away, no.
Q. But it just seems like it would be much better if someone came up to a human being, rather than a machine, and said, "You cannot be serious"?
PATRICK McENROE: That's a good point. Cindy?
Q. Should the human in the chair lose his or her job over one missed call?
PATRICK McENROE: No, I don't think so. No. I mean, unless it's... I mean, no one would ever lose track of the score, so that could never happen (smiling).
Q. You make a point that perhaps you should institute a system in which a player would get a couple of challenges per match.
PATRICK McENROE: Right.
Q. They do the same thing in the NFL, but there's a punitive factor. If you make a challenge, and it's denied, you lose a time-out. What kind of punitive factor would you suggest?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, you only get two. Let's say, for example, maybe you get two a set or one a set. First of all, you lose the point. I mean, you lose the point and then you lose your chance, if it's 5-All, breakpoint, you get a bad call, guess what? You've used up your challenge. To me, that's a penalty enough. No Gatorade on the changeover, try that. Only one visit from the trainer. What would women's tennis do? Don't quote me on that (smiling).
Q. The Bryans haven't been winning quite as regularly?
PATRICK McENROE: They've been a little inconsistent. I think they've been disappointed in their summer. They had a good start to their year, played well at the French. Obviously, Mike has had a little problem with his hip; that's been a bit of an issue, so he's had that treated. He may have to have surgery at some point down the road, which has, I think, been playing on his head a little bit. I think right now he's fine. He obviously played here and they won two rounds and lost in the third round. So, you know, they've had a lot of big goals. They've had a big summer with the Olympics and with the Open, and they haven't met their goals. But another one big goal for them is Davis Cup. This is an opportunity for them. They're still, obviously, extremely comfortable in the team format. But definitely for them it's been a tough summer.
Q. Maybe it's something the other doubles teams have become more familiar with their style of play?
PATRICK McENROE: It's possible. I mean, you've got to -- just as in singles, in doubles you've got to adjust and you've got to adapt and you've got to improve, you've got to add some wrinkles to your game and you've got to respond to what players are doing to you. So I think that's part of it, and I think they will. I think they work hard, they're committed to what they do, and I think once Mike gets over this thing with his hip, you know, from more of a psychological standpoint, I think it's been tough for him because he's just wondering, "Okay, am I going to have to have surgery?" He's more looking at the big picture even though at the moment I think physically he's fine. But when you know you have something that's sort of nagging at you, I think that's been, you know, tough for him.
Q. They beat Mirnyi and Voltchkov pretty easily in the Olympics.
PATRICK McENROE: Correct. That made me feel pretty good. That means nothing when we get to Charleston. The guys have a good record in Davis Cup. They thrive in the atmosphere. The one match is a good setup for them, and Mike can get all the treatment he needs to get read for that match. That's all we can do.
Q. A lot of the Americans on your team talk about the role Todd Martin played. Can you reflect on Todd Martin in Davis Cup and overall as a player.
PATRICK McENROE: Todd has been the ultimate sort of class act in tennis. The ultimate professional. He was part of a couple Davis Cup teams that I played on. He was part of a team that I was a captain of a couple times in 2002. And, you know, he's genuine. He cares about the young guys coming up. He spends a lot of time with them. You know, he's going to be around for a long time in tennis. We need him. He's had an unbelievable career. I mean, he squeezed everything out of that 6'6" frame of his that anybody could ask. He deserves to go enjoy some time with his wife and his kid. I'm sure he'll be around in tennis and probably one day be in the position I'm in, which he should be at some point as well. He's just a great role model and a great ambassador for tennis and for American tennis.
Q. Will he have a role in Charleston?
PATRICK McENROE: No, he won't have one in Charleston.
Q. Andy has dropped fewer games this year than he has last year at this point. Is there anything you attribute that to?
PATRICK McENROE: He's playing with more confidence. I think the fact he won last year obviously makes a difference. He's in better shape. Physically he's stronger, he's lighter, so he's moving better. Whether or not that means he's going to win the tournament, doesn't mean he's going to win it. What I love about Andy is he gets the big picture and he gets the fact that you got to try to get better and you got to improve. And if you do that, the results will take care of themselves. You know, that's the thing I'm trying to stress with all the guys that have played on our team or that could play, is do everything you can to maximize what you have. Andy Roddick can look in the mirror right now and say, "I'm doing everything possible to be the best player I can be. And if that means I win The Open again this year, great. If that means I lose in the finals, whatever that may be, well, I'll be disappointed, but I did everything I could do." I think that's all you can ask, out of anybody, particularly in this world of an individual sport. It's all "you" out there. You know what's on the line every time you go out there. Give yourself the best chance to succeed and then I think you could look in the mirror and be proud of what you've done.
Q. Do you think because he has such a big serve and such a powerful forehand that people maybe overlook that part?
PATRICK McENROE: I know the players don't and I know I don't. And I think you follow it well enough that you don't. So, yeah, the serve and all that stuff is a huge part of why he's where he is, but his domination so far, it's hard to get the ball past him. He's just playing smarter. He's competing better. Those things happen when you're physically stronger and quicker. It's just inevitable that you're going to make better decisions, you're going to not have to rely on whatever your A game is; you can go to a B game or a C game if need be. He's got that at his disposal now. So it gives you a lot more confidence when you walk out there when you know you've done the work.
Q. Assemble on Monday in Charleston? What day will you go?
PATRICK McENROE: We may spend a couple days down in Austin to do a little mini camp down there for a few days, down at Andy's place. Andy wants to have some of the guys come and stay with him, which would be great, sort of see how Andy does here, obviously, and how he's feeling. But then we'll come to Charleston probably Sunday night and start Monday morning.
Q. Could you handicap the Federer-Agassi quarterfinal.
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I picked Andre to get to the final from the start. I could fence it a little bit now. But, I mean, I think -- look, it's got the makings of a classic. I feel like Andre has to have everything go right, you know, for him to win it, which I think could happen based on how well he's played and the crowd and the elements that will play in his favor. I think the fact that Roger didn't play his last match, you know, could hurt him. I don't think that helps him because I don't think physically there's any question about his fitness or being fatigued. The guy's like a -- you know, he doesn't sweat. So to me, that could hurt him. But from an Xs and Os standpoint, Andre has to, I think, play a little more aggressively than he maybe would like to, but I think he knows that. I think he knows that he's got to play a little bigger and take a few more risks early. You know, if they get into rallies and longer points, I think Roger has the advantage because he's too quick and he's too good on defense. And if Roger serves well, then I think Andre's in trouble. But, you know, Andre's got to attack his second serve early, I believe, and try to, you know, rush Roger. The only time Roger struggles, I think, is when someone can get the ball on him, you know, quickly, consistently. Andre is one of the few guys that's capable of doing that.
Q. If, as forecast, we have no tennis today, and possibly no tennis tomorrow, who does that benefit and who does it hurt on both the men and the women?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, you know, it hurts Andre. You have to come back, obviously. In a way, you know, for Roger to spend another day or two not playing, I mean, you're talking about, could it be five, six days? That's difficult. I mean, I think it would help Roddick because he could win a lot of easy points with his serve. Johansson, I think, though, should not be underestimated. He's going to be dangerous because of his big game. Hewitt, you know, might be tough for him if he's got a long match with Haas then has to come back. The guys have got to work hard. I think generally it's a little tougher for them. On the women's side, I think, you know, I mean, to me, Lindsay is playing the best tennis. She's hitting the ball the best. She's serving great. She's confident. She should win pretty easily in this match today. The Russian girls, I don't know. Obviously, they're all good. They're all talented. But, you know, to me it would favor Lindsay because she's been here before and, you know, physically she looks good. To me, if she's healthy, I think she's the favorite.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the junior players that are coming up that may some day play for the Davis Cup.
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I can just tell you about the ones that I know, which are not all of them. But obviously Scoville had a great tournament at Kalamazoo. He looks to be a real good competitor and a hard worker. I think there's a whole -- whether it's Kuznetsov, who we've had at our last Davis Cup match, who's a great kid. I think he's got a lot of talent. He has struggled a little bit this summer. He sort of made the move to the pros. I wish he had played Kalamazoo, which he didn't, I think it was a mistake. But I wasn't asked. But he's a good kid, he's a hard worker. He's got a great upside. I think Brendan Evans had a good summer. He seems to be playing with more confidence, has a big serve, pretty big game. You know, there's Oudsema, who seems to be a pretty big server.
Q. Are you planning on having any of them --
PATRICK McENROE: Scoville Jenkins will be there and probably one other. I haven't quite decided yet. But probably one of the other young guys will be there.
Q. Did you talk to Scoville about it already?
PATRICK McENROE: I did.
Q. What was his reaction?
PATRICK McENROE: He said, "How much you paying me?" No, I'm kidding (laughter). He seemed pretty excited about it. He seems like a real good kid. I've spoken to his coach quite a bit. His dad, I've seen him a lot in the last year. He sort of came out of the pack. He was sort of in the middle of the pack of the Juniors and had a great tournament at Kalamazoo. It will be fun. I mean, it's always great to have the young guys there, they get to get a taste of it, the boys get to beat up on him a little bit. So I'm sure that's what will happen here.
Q. You think in due time Scoville will be on the team?
PATRICK McENROE: I hope