US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier, John Isner and Ryan Harrison News Conference
February 12, 2012An interview with:
U.S. DAVIS CUP CAPTAIN
JIM COURIER, JOHN ISNER
and RYAN HARRISON
TIM CURRY: Questions for Ryan, John and Jim.
Q. Ryan, can you talk about your first career Davis Cup match. How did you feel out there? Talk about things you've learned from Jim and the other players.
RYAN HARRISON: It was really exciting. To be out there, even though it was a dead rubber match, you're still playing for your country. The crowds were out there for the dead rubber today.
To get the experience of playing away on red clay in a Davis Cup match, I think it was crucial and a very big learning experience for me.
Obviously a little nerves in the beginning. Talking to Captain Courier on the bench, working the game plan, I think it was 7 6, 7 6, I rose my level, and he did as well.
It's an honor to play for your country and learn from these guys. It's just great.
Q. (Question about dominating the first set tiebreak.)
RYAN HARRISON: Even so I guess the score was even, I was feeling pretty comfortable. I had five breakpoints early. I hadn't faced breakpoints on my serve. I was hitting my spots well, felt like I was in control.
I was talking to the captain on the changeovers. He said, You're in control, you're playing from ahead, let it go. There is no reason why you shouldn't let it go.
It just kind of clicked. I got the first point out, which was pretty big. You want to get up in the score in breakers. After that it just kind of flowed.
Q. Jim, can I ask you what you've learned from this weekend?
CAPTAIN COURIER: Hmm. I wish I was smart enough to tell you (laughter).
Well, I think we certainly saw Mardy show some real heart out there. He had a tricky moment where he had match point in the fifth set that got away from him. Didn't get away from him; Stan took it from him. Mardy hung in there. He's had some matches where he's been in front, not been able to close them out, got lost at the end of them. He didn't get lost mentally at all. I learned that Mardy is mentally tough. It's great for us to carry forward and great for us to know as a team.
I learned that John can beat anyone at any time because no one has a chance if he plays the way that he plays and serves the way that he serves unless they play incredible tennis, incredible defensive tennis, because he plays first rate tennis.
Certainly we knew that Mardy and Mike could play good doubles. They proved they could play clutch doubles against a world class team.
Ryan, this was a great experience for Ryan and me to be able to experience that feeling in a safe place in Davis Cup together. That will help us in a way that John and I last year in Santiago had a dead rubber match to work with, which led to better communication and better results next time we we're together.
That's as much as I can give you.
Q. John, how much confidence will you take from playing this weekend, playing in other tournaments?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I can obviously take a lot of good things away from this week. You know, I had a very good win against Roger and another good win today. I definitely played top notch tennis this weekend. Tricky conditions, in Europe, February, on clay. It's not something I'm used to doing, coming over here this early.
Like Captain Courier said, I do realize now, no matter the surface, no matter the opponent, a lot of times, the ball, the point, the match is going
to be in my control no matter who I'm playing, no matter if it's Roger Federer or somebody who isn't even ranked.
It's the same thing every time I go out on the court. That's what I have to do in these upcoming tournaments. There's a lot of big ones. Just keep working on what I've been working on. Even though he's not going to be in my corner, I really have to make a conscious effort of doing everything in the future that I did this week.
CAPTAIN COURIER: Let me add that I've been talking to his coach nightly. They'll keep working on this stuff. Craig Boyton has been the architect of John. It's been nice working with him this week, even though Craig was back in Tampa.
Q. Ryan and John refer to you as Captain Courier.
CAPTAIN COURIER: I keep thinking they're going to say Captain Crunch (laughter).
Q. Are these little signs of a real businesslike culture that you're trying to bring into the U.S. team?
CAPTAIN COURIER: Look, culture starts at the top. I'm the captain of the team. As I looked to my captains for guidance, they're looking to me for guidance. They're looking to me for confidence, I think.
We did everything we needed to do in the buildup this week to play well this week. When you do that, you give yourself a great chance. There's no real secret sauce to working hard and working smart. It's doing it time and time again.
As I look back on my career in Davis Cup and the ATP, I'm proud of making the most of what I had. Because that's my experience, that's my philosophy, that's what our team is going to be working off of.
Hopefully it continues to flow through. But we're going to lose. We've already lost. We'll lose tough ones, we'll win tough ones, but we're going to do it right and we'll do it the best we can. But doing it right is the most important thing.
Do you want to add to that, guys?
RYAN HARRISON: I think for me, it's my first tie with Captain Courier. Obviously he has a reputation since the days he played about being one of the hardest working, toughest guys out there. Growing up, hearing about the way he played is one thing. Then actually being a part of it, seeing the way he is just day in and day out about everything, every bit of reputation he's earned, it's no secret why he got it.
You see the way that he handles things on a day to day basis, the way he's organized, structured. For someone like myself at this point in my career where I'm trying to be exactly that: more organized and more structured. So to be a part of this this week was a huge experience.
I also want to add that seeing someone like John and Mardy play the way they did on Friday in these conditions on red clay where Americans aren't known to be the best, but we obviously have shown a lot of people what's in here is probably the most important thing at all times. We have guys on our squad that are willing to put it on the line, to give it everything we've got.
So to be a part of that, to see that firsthand, sitting there in the first row as these guys did that, when they came through, is something I can really learn from in my career.
I hope that they've seen that I'd be more than willing to put my arm on the line for them, too.
CAPTAIN COURIER: Check his birth certificate (laughter).
Q. Can you say a bit about Ryan's game?
CAPTAIN COURIER: What you're seeing with Ryan is a work in progress. That's the exciting part. He's in the top 100 now. There's so much he's going to learn and improve.
It's shot selection, being organized in his game, knowing what he can do well to hurt people. That's coming. He's made a lot of progress in the last year. He's going to make I would say probably more progress in the next year because he's now physically prepared for the rigors of the tour. Now the game is going to come behind that.
He's going to play well. I'm quite confident of that. You see the weapons. The serve is big. The forehand is big. He's athletic. He plays good defense when he has to. It's just about taking advantage of the shots that present themselves to him.
I thought he did a very good job of handling an awkward situation. When is the last time you did something for the first time? That's always a tricky situation. As expected, he came out playing a little bit conservatively, which we wanted him actually to get a feel for the match. As the match wore on, he became more like his everyday self, being more aggressive.
He has a lot of upside. I look forward to sitting on the bench with him and watching it