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April 22, 2007

Vania King


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What gives you more butterflies, singing the national anthem or stepping out there for Serena today?
VANIA KING: Probably today. I mean, the whole atmosphere, you know, the team cheering my on. They're always there behind me. Then clinching the tie was just a dream come true.

Q. Vania, when did you learn that you were going to have to substitute for Serena? After you were told that you would be stepping in to play this clinching match, did you get some pep talks from Zina and your teammates? What did they tell you?
VANIA KING: I mean, at the start of the week, Zina told me, Be prepared for anything, which goes for any Fed Cup. Someone can get hurt and then anyone could substitute for anyone. In the beginning of the week, she told me, Get a little bit of a mentality that you may play singles.
I didn't find out actually until today, like late this morning. I can't remember the exact time. She kept reiterating to me, you know, that there's a possibility, there's always a possibility. So I had it in the back of my head that, you know, there was a chance that I would be playing today.

Q. How did your teammates try to bring you up?
VANIA KING: You know, my teammates, they're the best. They're always cheering me on, pumping me up no matter what I do. So even like with the singing yesterday, just the whole week, they've been really great. They've all been supporting me a lot.

Q. Your nerves before the match walking out onto the court, then trying to close out the match about two and a half hours later, scale of 1 to 10?
VANIA KING: Well, obviously before the match I was really nervous. I mean, I knew in my head there was a possibility. Then once it was final, you know, it's a different feeling playing for yourself and then playing for your country. I felt like, you know, it's my responsibility to do the best that I can for my country. It's not just about me any more.
So when I got out there, you know, I was pretty nervous. I know it affected my game a bit. I was not striking the ball, not moving as well because I was really tense and nervous. But, you know, Zina was always there for me, always pumping me up, telling me to stay positive and stay loose and stay relaxed. After the first set, I think I got a little bit looser and started playing my game, you know, doing what I needed to do.

Q. Can you talk about the controversial call towards the end. How much do you think that affected her? What did you feel like afterwards with the flag on the victory lap?
VANIA KING: Well, the calls, you know, I felt like there were a couple calls that I was very unsure about myself. But, you know, it evened out. I think maybe it got into her head a little bit. I was just trying to let it go because, you know, once the ref makes the call, he's going to stick by it. Usually the player can't really sway his mind.
I felt there were controversial calls on both sides. Things happen during matches. That's the way it is.

Q. Could you comment on the two match points.
VANIA KING: You know, I have a bad memory. I can't remember exactly what I was thinking. Zina told me, you know, No matter what, just go out there, stick with the plan, don't worry about her, don't worry about the nerves, don't worry about the score. That was what I was trying to do, you know, take her second serve, have a plan, go for it. I knew where I wanted to hit it. I missed it. But, I mean, I went to the next point and I was trying to keep cool.

Q. On the final point of the match?
VANIA KING: She was at the net. All I was thinking was run, fight, get to the ball, hit the ball. That's all I was thinking about, yeah.

Q. You were out there for two and a half hours. How did you feel towards the end? Did you feel like you were the fitter player?
VANIA KING: You know, at the end it wasn't really physical. Both of us were going to try our butts off. At the end, you know, it could have gone either way. But I felt like, you know, no matter what, I'm going to be the one trying to fight harder than her. I know she's a great fighter, a great player. But that's also a strength of mine. So I felt like no matter what the score ends up, I'm going to fight as hard as I can. I'm going to try to fight harder than her.

Q. What did Serena say to you, if anything, before the match?
VANIA KING: Serena was pretty laid back. I mean, she was just like, Well, you know, go out there and do your thing, have a good time and try your best. I mean, Zina was the one who gave me the pep talk. The coach always gives you the pep talk before you play the match. That's about it.

Q. And where does this match rank?
VANIA KING: Up there (laughter). Yeah, like, you know, I'll remember this for a long time.

Q. Has Zina talked about next round? Any discussion about you playing in July?
VANIA KING: Well, by now the match is over. But, you know, before the match wasn't over. You know, she wasn't planning to take any chances. You know, we'll see how it goes. If they invite me, I'd love to come. I love playing Fed Cup.

Q. While you were playing in the third set, I wanted to let you know that your doubles partner that you normally play with in tournaments Shahar Peer won the tie for Israel. What are your comments on Shahar? What are the assets of her game? Do you feel her ranking will continue to rise in the year to come?
VANIA KING: Shahar and I had a good couple of tournaments. You know, I really admire her as a player. She's been doing really well this year.
As another player looking at her, I think one of her best attributes is her mental aspect. You know, she fights very, very hard. And I think that's how she wins, you know, a good percentage of her matches, just by fighting. And she's prepared to go out there and play as long as it takes. I think other girls go out there knowing that. They might give a few points here and there. It really affects their mind.

Q. The last couple months you've had not only this pressure-packed situation but a tough draw at Key Biscayne. Was this a different kind of pressure than Key Biscayne?
VANIA KING: Oh, definitely. I mean, like I said, playing for your country is a much different pressure. I mean, I think it's much more pressure because you're not playing for yourself. If you lose at any other tournament, you only have yourself to look at. But, you know, win or lose here, the whole team -- there's a team aspect. It's not just you. They're saying game, set, match USA or game, set, match Belgium. They're not saying game, set, match King. The pressure's different. I think every player should be looking forward to that pressure because it's a good pressure. Everyone wants to be there playing for their country.

Q. You came in here looking for a win after some time. Was there a little bit of a confidence lapse coming into this event?
VANIA KING: You mean, like from previous Fed Cups?

Q. Having lost your last few matches, was it difficult to get in here and get your confidence up to where you needed it?
VANIA KING: You know, I mean, people have been asking me, telling me, How do you feel about this year? It's not gone so smoothly as I had hoped. But I think everything starts with me. Everything is how I think about things. If I'm positive, doing the right things, then I don't really care about results and stuff like that.

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