September 4, 1997
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY
Q. How does it feel to be the first champions in the new stadium?
RICK LEACH: Well, to tell you the truth, it really was just an honor to play out there. I was hoping the whole two weeks that I'd get a match on the stadium. Since I'm only a doubles player, I was going to have to probably get to the Finals in order to do that. It's a beautiful stadium. It was an honor to play on the court, an honor to win the national title, Grand Slam.
Q. How did you two team up?
MANON BOLLEGRAF: Well, we actually played team tennis together for the Idaho Sneakers. Then we both played with different partners. He won the Australian Open with Natasha Zvereva. After that, she decided not to play mixed anymore. I took my chance and said, "Do you want to play?" We always played well in team tennis. That's how we got started.
RICK LEACH: We've had a good year. Played the whole year together. We won the Australian, semis of the French, quarters of Wimbledon. Now we won that. We like to team up together.
Q. I thought you said you played the Australian with Natasha?
MANON BOLLEGRAF: That was the year before.
RICK LEACH: Last year.
Q. Is playing doubles on The Tour as your sole event a labor of love, since it's pretty obscure? It doesn't get as much attention as the singles matches.
RICK LEACH: Yeah. Personally I love the game of doubles. I've actually loved it since I was a kid, played with my father. He used to include me in his doubles games. I've been able to make a real good living in doubles too. Having a chance to have a Grand Slam title, it makes my whole career worthwhile. You know, a lot of times, you're right, you don't get any recognition, you play on the back courts. You have to work your way up. Once you get here, it feels pretty good.
Q. Did you at a point in your career decide to specialize or devote more time to doubles because singles was not your calling?
RICK LEACH: Yeah. I would have probably been in another field of work if I would have kept at singles. The highest I ever got was 110. Bolle was in the Top 30, so she could have done both. Right away, right when I turned pro, I got to the Finals. I knew I had a niche in doubles.
Q. And you?
MANON BOLLEGRAF: I've played singles in '96. Due to injuries, I was forced to stop playing singles. Doubles is a little easier on the body. When I wake up in the mornings, I feel much better now. So it will definitely prolong my career. I've always been a team player. Playing doubles, surely you don't get the recognition sometimes, but that's not why you play. You know, you play for yourself. It's like Rick said: If you have a chance to play out here on center court, you walk away with a trophy; that's why you're doing it.
RICK LEACH: Plus you can play doubles a lot longer; it's not as physically demanding. Both of us will be ready for the 35's in a couple years. We're getting a little older (laughter).
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.