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Fed Cup Captain Zina Garrison Blogs

Monday, January 28, 2008

When making a team, you have to put personalities together and see how a team jells. I was also emailing (team coach) Mary Joe Fernandez and running some things by her and also letting her know kinda how it works. I asked her what she thinks. Does she think this person or that person? That is pretty much how I’ve always done it and how I learned to do it.

I have been trying to find out who to expect on the German team. We’ll find out who they put on their team when we’re putting in our nominations. I have heard from a few players, there is a possibility of sending their girls like Muller or some of their juniors. You don’t know exactly which team someone is going to send. When you’re making a team it depends on who is injured, who is healthy, who can make the trip – a lot goes into it.

I feel really good about our team's chances. I’m very excited that Lindsay Davenport has committed to a possible three matches, if we make it to the final. Her having the opportunity to play right in her backyard in Southern California is really good and I think it is her first match back in the states since the 2006 US Open. With Germany, I feel our women are still strong enough to take whoever they send over so I think our chances are pretty good but it is a team event and you never know.

At the Australian Open last week, I felt that Sharapova came out with her A-game against Lindsay. Lindsay looked good, she just looked like she hadn’t played on the big stage in awhile, which is very much true because she hasn’t. You can get a little bit tentative, a little bit nervous and it’s a matter of her getting a few more matches under her belt. It would have been nice if she had been able to play a few more matches and then play Sharapova.

I’m one of Lindsay’s biggest fans. The great thing about Lindsay is once she decides to do something, she does commit and she commits early. You don’t necessarily have that with the other players. She just happens to be one of those players who is very good with scheduling and making a commitment and going with it. She’s always a good example especially to the young guns who are coming up.

Three weeks leading into Fed Cup are the craziest weeks for me and I’m normally extremely stressed out. It’s always really funny to me because people think the job is so easy - she just goes and she coaches a few matches but actually this is the toughest time. I not only have to think about getting the players there, you’re constantly making sure that they are healthy, getting trainers, doctors, hitting partners, dealing with the media. And I would like to have a full stand for the girls to play in front of, so selling tickets and trying to be being creative and coming up with ways all around and not just be the coach.

The difference this year is this is my last year as captain. I’ve always had someone there to kind of bounce things off of. I’m not treating it any different other than I would like to come away with a win. I did joke with Mary Joe, this time next year I’ll call you and see if you’re stressed out.

I think I’ve done a great job in the previous years. I enjoy being the captain, I enjoy being around the young women, I’ve watched some of the young ones grow, watched our young guns become women and some of them have even played Fed Cup with us. And being around Lindsay, Venus and Serena Williams- it’s been really good and some of the other veterans as well. I’ve enjoyed my experience – it’s been extremely wonderful as well, as having the opportunity to touch other lives.

Second Entry

The hardcourt surface in La Jolla we are using won’t be extremely fast but it will be a nice speed. It won’t be a slow hardcourt.

A lot of times when choosing a court, you have to think about your players and what surfaces they play better on. I knew I had Lindsay and she is a great hard-court player. You also want it at a nice pace where she can get a good stroke on the ball because Lindsay hits the ball extremely deep; she has a great serve and placement and you give her one or two punches on the ball and she’s going to put you on the run. That is what I’m expecting and hoping for her to do, and that is what she has done so well. The other players are good hard court players as well, I would take our chances on hardcourt over playing on other surfaces.

I talked to Serena about playing Fed Cup, and she told me that she would not be able to make the first round. The second round looked a lot better for her. Venus had really, really tried to make it and was trying to make it work but she’s been on the road for the last five weeks. She traveled a lot, launched her new line, graduated – it was just too much. She said she was very disappointed that she could not play, she felt she was letting me down. She really wants to play Fed Cup so that is exciting. First we have to get through the first round and keep everybody healthy.

I have very strong ties as far as playing in the San Diego area. I was in La Costa and I always loved playing out there. The people there were always really nice and I have great memories. Barry Gordy used to come out and watch me all the time. One of my best life lessons that helped shape the person I became was out there. I feel like it was character-building. I had played a horrible match, I threw my racquet down and was just kind of all over the place, and after the match Barry said to me ‘Zina, you always have to be a champion on and off the court.’ From that day on, I stuck with that, I never, ever forgot that.

What he was saying was you have to carry yourself like a champion. You can’t expect to go on the court and all of a sudden have this horrible attitude and come off the court and be another person. You always are on center stage. I never forgot that.

Then I met one of my coaches, Angel Lopez, who works at the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club and I used to go out there and spend time with Angel. He was one of the coaches that helped me understand that tennis was 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, and that I had to work on my mind just as I had to work on my tennis game. He really helped me to mature into the player I later became. I really started getting the fact that I wasn’t just a great athlete. I had to train my mind and become a great mental athlete as well – I think that was a huge attribute of my game. I mentally played you as well as physically. Tactically I was always going after you.

In Southern California people love tennis, and to bring Fed Cup out there for the first time is great. When Davis Cup was out there, there were huge supporters and I think it is great when you can get a following like that.

Posted by Shelia

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