1998 PILOT PEN INTERNATIONAL
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
August 21, 1998
An interview with:
Q. How do you feel coming into this tournament next week?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I feel really good about my game. I have been at home. I have had time off, but just used that time to rely work hard and I think I feel pretty rested and pretty fresh so -- I feel good.
Q. Have you played a lot of tennis this summer or is this one of the few events using it as a warmup to the Open?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, I think I have played a lot this summer. I mean, I have played more than I have in a while, I think. I just had a couple of tournaments in a row in California and stuff and then, you know, just didn't play the next one because whatever reasons, but -- so I definitely wanted to get something in before the Open, yeah.
Q. What is the strongest part of your game right now?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Right now, I don't know. I think just off the ground I feel pretty solid. I would have to say maybe my power, I don't know.
Q. What is this whole comeback for you been like the last couple of years?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, it has been an up-and-down-road. It is just a matter of finding out what I really want and stuff and I think I have really come to the decision that I really want to be back.
Q. Does it ever cross your mind that you will never be the player you were when you were younger or will be what you wanted to be and does it matter whether you reach that peak again?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think I can be better.
Q. Is there a level that you have decided is acceptable to reach this time around?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Whatever level I can. As far as I go, you know, I don't -- whatever my achievements are or my expectations, that is fast -- as far as I get is as far as I get.
Q. Are you as motivated as you used to be, when you were 14 or 15?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, pretty motivated. I mean, it is just actually trying to get back and stuff, I mean, that has just kept me motivated. Just kind of like a thing trying to -- it is like a challenge, personal challenge for myself.
Q. Do you think the main thing is consistency, the game is there, but it is not there all the time?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I think -- I mean, like now I have started to get more of a consistency now and already I think just started improving already with the consistency. It is just playing and no matter if I have these bad losses or I lose, just to just keep going, just keep going and I am hoping that eventually it will just click in for me. Because I mean, I will never forget when I was 14, 15, that is still me, that is still the same person, I think.
Q. What is different for you this time around on the court, off the court?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Just that I am, I guess I am an adult now. That is really it.
Q. What do you want to get from tennis now at this point?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Just joy. I mean, it is in my blood, so I think I have to play.
Q. Are you getting joy from it now, Jennifer, a lot of joy?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I am.
Q. What gives you -- what is the most fun about being back? What gives you the most joy when you are on the court?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think just, I don't know, I can't really explain. It is just something that I love to do and just to know that you are good at something too, you know that -- obviously I guess people -- you wouldn't be here right if like, you know, I wasn't good or something, whatever. So it is just knowing that to have one gift and stuff, to be able to compete, you know, it is just having something, you know, different.
Q. I just want to go back to what I was asking you earlier where you said that whatever level you get to, that is sort of the level you will get to. How have you arrived at a point where that is okay, that whatever you arrive at now is fine and you don't have that itch to do it all or be No. 1 or Top 5?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I mean, I am going to like give it all that I -- I am going to do everything I can to reach my highest level and then just knowing that, I think I will just be happy with that - whatever that may be.
Q. In a year, what could be that?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I don't know.
Q. What could make you happy?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I mean, obviously -- I mean, I think just being No. 1 or whatever, I mean, that would be great. But that is no big deal. I mean, it is a big deal, of course I would love it, you know, just be something that I would love or at least be high, Top 5 or something. But it is okay if I don't.
Q. It is a realistic goal though, you feel good enough about your game right now that you are thinking a Top 5 is possible?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I think it is realistic, but I think just everything has to be right, working right.
Q. Do you have some regrets, a lot of regrets about what has happened to your career over the years and why not?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, I mean, I just think that there is just so much more to me now, you know, I have learned so much. I have experienced so much that, you know, some people don't have it in a lifetime, so I just think, you know, I don't regret it at all because I can do something. I can come from the bottom and try to work my way up to the top again and I think that is just what life is all about.
Q. What is important to you now?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: What is important to me?
Q. Yeah, is tennis No. 1 or what is the most important thing?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Just waking up and being happy.
Q. When you first came up, you were the sole teenager out there. Now there is a bunch of teenagers. It is very high profile now. What is your take on what is going on in the game today?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I sort of get to see, I don't know, how -- from the outside, I guess, how kind of I was treated, I guess. Now I see that a little bit. But I mean, I think it is cool; it is great that there is a lot of good players, you know, I mean, I have said this before like you know they are going to be around for a while unless they are like me or something. (kiddingly) (Laughs) No. (Smiles).
Q. Do you think the field is better now than when you were at your peak?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think it was a lot different. I wouldn't say it is better. I would just say it is different because I mean, like when Steffi and I was playing, I mean, Gaby and, you know, all of them they were at their peak, so, you know, I mean, it was pretty tough.
Q. Talk a little bit about your relationship with Steffi Graf. Obviously you guys have worked out together. She has kind of been there for support. Explain that relationship a little bit.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think we are just pretty good friends. I have always had a liking to her and I guess the same for her to me and stuff --
Q. Do you think she was maybe able to understand some of things you had gone through because in a different aspect obviously her life is at times difficult with her father and --
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think, yeah, we can relate to each other. We have like an understanding with each other. It is just -- really good to be able to talk to somebody actually too. I mean, it is kind of sometimes you feel like you are alone really in this life and stuff and tennis world or whatever, and to have somebody to talk to about it, I mean, it is good.
Q. Were you hurt by having too much success, do you think at 14 and 15, having all that tremendous success in tennis, did that maybe come too quick too fast or what?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I thought this was going to be like a light press conference. (laughter). Kind of like what I said to you before, you know, about having no regrets and stuff, you know. So I don't -- just I can't go back and change anything or I can just learn and whatever, so, I don't think I have had definitely not too much success, like I said, some people, it takes many lifetimes to get the things that I have gotten, so I would never like want to give it up for anything in the world.
Q. Are you able to associate or socialize with some of the younger ones that are around the Tour now, and also besides Steffi, which of the other players from a few years ago offered you encouragement to keep going?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: The first part, just the other girls and stuff, the younger girls, I really haven't like talked to them that much or anything like that. They seem like they just, you know, they are all strong personalities, whatever, so, you know, they -- I don't know. But the second part, I think just a lot -- mostly all players, you know, I have been -- have been pretty nice. I haven't talked to that many, you know, like I have with like Steffi or something. I mean, Monica to a certain point, I talked to her a little bit. That is it.
Q. Has the attendance in tennis for women's been greater than the men's --
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Has the attendance?
Q. You guys follow one another. Has it been a bigger attendance because like some of the men's tours the attendance haven't been as, shall we say, great as they should be or as opened --
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: The attendance you are saying?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I mean, that is great -- I mean, I don't know. I think it has been pretty much the same -- I mean, I don't really know what is exciting. I think the women's is more exciting right now at this point, so....
Q. Do you have any aches or pains right now or are you feeling pretty fit?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I feel pretty fit. Yeah, let's talk about my game, yeah.
Q. You said that you want joy out of tennis now. Did you want something different when you were 13? Did you just want fame and fortune or to be No. 1? Were your priorities different?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I never wanted like fame or fortune or anything like that. I just -- I was just, you know, a happy-go-lucky kid, you know, I just enjoyed it.
Q. On your game, who are you working with at the moment and how much time are you putting in on the practice courts, off the practice courts, on a typical week?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I mean, at least I go out everyday and train about four to five -- it all depends, really. Some days I won't train at all. It just depends, but right now, just for this week and probably through the Open and stuff, this guy is with me now, Craig Wildey is his name. Just kind of started with.
Q. Next year, looking beyond, what is coming up with the Open and all that, next year are you planning on playing a full 12 months or how many tournaments do you feel at this stage you are capable of playing?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I am planning on playing as much as I can, especially if my body holds up. I mean, I went through a lot of injuries the last year or so. So hopefully I mean, that is all part of getting in shape too. I think if I am in shape, I am not going to be pushing my body so much, you know, doing more than what I can do.
Q. What kind of problems have you had physically?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I have had like a bunch of like muscle strains and pulls. I twisted my ankle really bad, that you can't do anything about. But -- and I have had like shoulder problems, especially when I just started getting back into it.
Q. Where would you like to get better? What part of your game?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I think I would like my consistency back, to be better, and also my focus, you know, I just -- I have lapses, you know, in my matches, I would just like to cut those out. Just even knowing like what shot to hit, you know, what shot not -- the right shot at the right time and stuff, you know, I mean, maybe that was just so natural before, you know, now it is just, I don't know, I have to -- that has to come back to me a little bit more, I think. That is just from playing.
Q. Everybody always remembers you obviously from what happened in the downside. Do you think you can ever erase that through good tennis or do you think people always have that kind of asterisk next to your name when they talk about you, think about you, she was the teenage superstar who burned out, do you think good tennis can erase that or do you think it could ever be erased?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I don't really care if it is erased or not. Whatever people think, I mean, a lot of what people think is because I think of what was portrayed through you guys too, so I don't know. Whatever -- I think you guys have the control pretty much. But you just can't -- you can't care, just be happy with yourself and happy with the people around you.
and where they produce desolation, they call it peace