YOUNG AND OLD, THEY CAME TO SEE SAMPRAS -
ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS OF ALL TIME
Photo by Adam Davis
LOS ANGELES - In full retirement at the age of 37, Pete Sampras
graced the Los Angeles Tennis Center with a special exhibition match
against Russian Marat Safin. Sampras was this year's honoree of the
tournament. The fans in the filled stadium had the opportunity to experience a
favorite hero play again.
Safin took the first set but Sampras threw in some aces mixed with his
serve and volley style to take the second set. Safin turned it up a
notch and started passing down the line to win the tie-break third set.
Sampras won this tournament in 1991 and 1999.
It was a memorable evening which included a video tribute to the
legendary Pete Sampras. His parents, siblings, and wife, Bridget Wilson
with their two boys (Christian 6, Ryan 3), joined him on center court as
he accepted his award.
In the pre-match interview he spoke of wanting to break Roy Emerson's
record. He reached that goal with 14 Grand Slam titles (Emerson had 12.)
"Records are meant to be broken," he said when asked how he felt about
Roger Federer surpassing his record earlier this month at Wimbledon. He
appeared comfortable with all that he accomplished. His career lasted
from 1988 to 2002. He won two Australian Opens, seven Wimbledons, and
five US Open Championships.
"I would need a time capsule," Sampras said. He felt he had the game to
beat Federer if he could have played him in his prime. Seven years into
his retirement, he still has a phenomenal serve and his crowd-pleasing
jumping overhead slam.
It was a brilliant idea to bring back Pete Sampras not just as an
honoree but as a featured evening match. Both the older fans and the
younger kids were able to see Pistol Pete in action.
ABOUT THE LA TENNIS OPEN PRESENTED BY FARMERS INSURANCE
The LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance has been played every
year since 1927, making it the longest-running annual professional
sporting event in Los Angeles. Played since 1984 at the LA Tennis Center
on the campus of UCLA, the tournament is part of the Olympus US Open
Series, the six-week summer tennis season linking 10 ATP World Tour and
Sony Ericsson WTA Tour events to the US Open that in 2008 drew a record
of more than 50 million television viewers. Proceeds from the LA Tennis
Open benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern
California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. The SCTA offers programs,
leagues, and tournaments involving 300,000 juniors and 50,000 adults and
seniors. Information on tickets and the tournament can be found at