Roddick Still Goes Out On Top

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – After his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick was asked to say a few words.

For the first time in a long time, his mouth was at a loss.

“I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan,” Roddick said.  “You know, I was just going to try to win.  It was perfect.  This whole week has been perfect, you know.

“Rain‑delayed match, come back the next day.  It’s like typical US Open.  Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.”

It wasn’t the storybook ending for Roddick, but it was his ending, as the No. 7 seed took him out of the Open with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win today in a match that was restarted after postponed last night.

But it didn’t matter for Roddick. He didn’t think he would have lasted to the final with some younger and better players in front of him. Rather, he wanted to go out on his terms. And today, he did.

Even in his final press conference.

“I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today,” he said.

“So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms.  I hope you all do, too.  There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones.

“There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.”

Maybe that’s Roddick’s legacy. He wasn’t boring. Much like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, he knows tennis is entertainment and besides being an athlete, he is there to entertain the crowd. He is always witty and funny and of course never a snoozer.

His matches with Federer were epic at times, even though he could never break through, and he played to the crowd in exhibitions, such as last March when he imitated Rafa Nadal on his serve much to the laughter of those in attendance.

He was no clown prince, though. Tennis was a serious business to him and he never gave up, which is why the Arthur Ashe crowd was chanting, “Let’s Go Andy!” throughout the match.

“I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted,” he said.  “ I think I went about things the right way.  The umpires might disagree with me.  (Laughter.)

“I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis.  When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.”

What’s next for him, well that’s anyone’s guess, but Roddick will be humbled when the accolades come down, especially if he gets the call from Newport.

“That’s not for me to say,” he said.  “That’s not my choice.  Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything.  If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed.  If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.”

Because deep down inside, Roddick is still that 12 year-old kid who dreamed about playing Ivan Lendl or Stefan Edberg and now that they are his contemporaries, he is definitely satisfied.

“Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12‑ or 13‑year‑old kid that he’s going to win 30‑some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat,” he said.  “Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.

“There were a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments.  I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team?  Most people don’t get to experience that.”

Roddick did and today he closed that chapter in his life on his terms.

 

 

 

 

US Open Last For Roddick

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Note to the press covering the US Open: You won’t have Andy Roddick to kick around anymore.

Or maybe he kicked us around.

The smart, quick-witted face of American Tennis since Andre Agassi retired, announced that this US Open will be his last tournament.

“I just feel like it’s time,” he said. “I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.  I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event.  I have a lot of family and friends here.  I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament.

“When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

It’s always good for an athlete to know when to get out. And if his heart isn’t into it, then there is no reason to play. He made his money and has a good life with wife Brooklyn Decker.

And he ends a champion winning the 2003 US Open, but also losing three Wimbledon Finals and the 2006 US Open Finals to Roger Federer.

In that way, he is more like the Patrick Ewing Knicks, who couldn’t beat Michael Jordan.

But still, it’s all special. And frankly it’s too early for Roddick to tell what his greatest achievement has been.

“I don’t view it in a scope of where you had your best win,” he said.  “I’ve had a lot of different memories.  I’ll certainly look back.  I feel like I’d be cheating the other memories if I said one was the highlight.

“You know, I feel like I’ve been very lucky.  That’s certainly not lost on me.”

Maybe the toughest was the 2009 Wimbledon Finals which went to five sets and Federer beat him 16-14 in the fifth set.

It was the one that got away for Roddick but it also shows the type of player he was.

On Tuesday, he discussed the game after his first round match and said he thought the reason why he lasted so long was his ability to make adjustments. When he started the game was less physical but became more of a power match over the last five years.

“The game completely changed,” Roddick said.  “I was able to kind of recognize it.  It’s funny, because the things I feel like I get criticized for have kept me around a lot more than my contemporaries.

“Let’s say I came up with Marat and Ferrero and a couple other guys.  Obviously everyone points to Roger, but we can all point to Roger all day.  If that’s the comparison we’re drawing, then we’re going to end up with the stories we have had.

“I saw the way the game was going.  You have to get stronger and quicker.  I don’t think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard.”

“It was a conscious effort at times, and I feel like that’s added to longevity a little bit.”

Now at 30, it’s time to move on. Roddick will close out his career either tomorrow or sometime next week as he looks to put a capper on one of the more interesting eras in American tennis history.

And what’s next?

“Well, immediately we announced yesterday or the day before we’re building, with my foundation, a youth tennis and learning center in Austin,” he said  “I’d like to be hands on with that and not see it periodically.  I’d like to be kind of on‑site every day.  There’s some other projects, kind of side projects, that I’ve been doing.

“Those excite me a lot right now.  So I’m looking forward to it.”

BNP Paribas Showdown Returns to The Garden This February

The BNP Paribas Showdown will have a 2012 version at new and refurbished Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2012.

Maria Sharapova and world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will make their first appearances in the event in the 7:00 pm opener. That match will be followed by Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick.

Last year Roddick was scheduled to play Andre Agassi,but Pete Sampras ended up playing Agassi after John McEnroe was forced to default to Ivan Lendl due to injury in the first match despite leading 6-3.

Federer has played in the past and won against Sampras.

There will be an opportunity to bid on the event at the International Tennis Hall Of Fame Ball this coming Friday evening at Cipriani in Manhattan.

Tickets will go on sale at The Garden in the Fall.

Sock Has A Bright Future

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It was the past against the future. American tennis’s past darling in Andy Roddick against future star Jack Sock.

And when it was the master took on the apprentice today, Roddick showed experience wins out in a straight set win over his fellow Nebraskan, 6-3 6-3 6-4.

“I didn’t think I’d ever play another guy from Nebraska in my career,” Roddick said.  “You know, it was just cool.  I could draw so many parallels to what he was going through.  You know, but also I could draw on my experience a little bit.”

Sock’s inexperience showed when he missed a few break points in the first, which could have changed the complexion of the match. It is something that will come in time for the 18 year-old, because this was such a learning experience for him.

“After watching him I knew that he kind of plays a lot from the baseline, maybe a little bit behind the baseline, makes a lot of balls, is steady,” he said.  “I felt like I could go out there and try to dictate points and try to hit a lot of forehands, try to move the ball around as much as possible, and then attack when I could.

“I felt like I did a decent job of that.  I mean, like I said, it comes down to him getting back in the court and retrieve and be able to hit passing shots how he wants, like standing still or not on the run. I felt overall like I played a pretty good match.”

But it still wasn’t enough for Roddick who came in knowing his opponent would be a little nervous playing in the big bowl for the first time in his career. According to the 21st seeded player he has participated in 27 night matches at Ashes, so tonight was just old hat.

Yet, Roddick knows this won’t be the last he sees of Sock. In fact the 2003 champ feels Sock will be one of the “legit prospects” along with fellow American Ryan Harrison. And after the match Roddick invited him to his compound in Texas to practice with him, the same way Andre Agassi did back in the early 2000s with the current American star.

“I certainly feel the need to pay it forward,” Roddick said. “This game has been great to me.  It’s pretty much an impossibility for me to do it. But as far as leaving it better than when you came, when I came it was the best generation that has ever existed in a country.

“But I enjoy having the young guys at home.  I think I can help them.  It’s inspiring for me.  You can kind of feed off of their hunger a little bit.”

And that’s how American tennis will come back. It will be a cumulative effort. Although Roddick shown Same Querrey and Harrison the same hospitality, Sock, coming from the same background in Nebraska, may have some real success working with Roddick.

Plus he has the skills. With a 135 m.p.h serve, the talent is there, so all he now has to do is hone it in and learn about the intricacies of the game that only come with experience. When that happens, Sock will move up the ranks and become a star in this game, muck like Roddick did about 10 years ago.

So this is only the beginning and soon you may see the student teaching his teacher a thing or two.

Peachy Kellmeyer to be Inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, January 27, 2011 – Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, who was the very first employee and director of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) in 1973 and still serves the organization today, has been elected for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum announced Kellmeyer’s induction today at a WTA Alumnae & Friends Reunion at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.

Kellmeyer is the sole 2011 inductee in the Contributor Category. She joins Recent Player inductee Andre Agassi, whose induction was announced last week. Together, Kellmeyer and Agassi will be the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held on July 9, 2011 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.

“Professional women’s tennis players, young female athletes and the sports world in general should be grateful that Peachy Kellmeyer chose to apply her dedication and leadership skills to women’s tennis, because her tireless work has played a critical role in the growth of the game and in improving rights for female athletes across all sports,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “We are delighted to honor Peachy for her contributions to tennis with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.”

Kellmeyer, 66, of Wheeling, West Virginia, became involved in the game as a talented junior player, went on to be a star collegiate athlete, and then launched an administrative career in tennis. During her career with the WTA, Kellmeyer has led the WTA’s operations, player and tournament relations and has been at the center of all major policy decisions. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA’s alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build.

“This is a tremendous honor, and I’m so grateful for the recognition. I am particularly pleased to have been able to celebrate the news of my induction surrounded by many of my close friends in the WTA Alumnae & Friends Association who have shared the vision and worked with me to grow women’s tennis around the globe,” said Kellmeyer. “From playing opportunities to prize money, to interest in the game, we’ve all worked very hard to reach the positive position that women’s tennis is in today. I’ve been fortunate to have truly loved my work all my life, and it’s a real joy to see that my efforts have positively impacted women.”

During Kellmeyer’s tenure, prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $86,000,000 in 2010, and the number of WTA events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries. Attendance at WTA events has increased dramatically with nearly 5 million in-stadium fans annually, and television exposure has increased with hundreds of millions of homes receiving more than 6,000 hours of international TV coverage on an annual basis.

Simultaneously with her efforts to build women’s tennis, Kellmeyer has been a tireless fighter for women’s rights in sports. When she was the Physical Education Director at Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida in 1966, Kellmeyer spear-headed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the dismantling of a National Education Association rule that had prohibited athletic scholarships being awarded to female athletes at colleges across the nation. The landmark case paved the way for Title IX and contributed greatly to the increase of female athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, Kellmeyer was a driving force behind the WTA’s campaign to achieve equal prize money for women. In 2009 she was honored with the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Golden Achievement Award for her important contributions to tennis in the field of administration and long outstanding service to the sport.

On court, Kellmeyer began winning junior titles as early as age 11. By the age of 15 she was competing at what is now the US Open, and she was the youngest player at the time to be invited to such a prestigious event. She went on to be a tennis star at the University of Miami, where she became the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s team. As an adult, Kellmeyer was ranked nationally in both singles and doubles, and was a competitor at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 219 of the greatest players and contributors to the sport since 1955. Inductees are honored in one of three categories – Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor. In recognition for her immense contributions off the court, Kellmeyer joins the esteemed Contributor Category which includes Hall of Famers such as sports marketing pioneer and agent Donald Dell, and former player turned tennis administrator and tournament director, Butch Buchholz.

Contributor Category – Induction Eligibility

Inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame are elected in the categories of Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor. To be eligible for Hall of Fame induction in the Contributor category, the individual must have made exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of tennis, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.

Induction Voting Process

International Tennis Hall of Fame President and 1970 Hall of Famer Tony Trabert serves as Chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. Annually, the Committee develops the Hall of Fame induction ballot, based on nominations submitted by the public. The ballot is then put to vote by the International Media Panel or the International Masters Panel, depending on the category. The Contributor category, in which Kellmeyer was elected, is voted on by the International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history. To be inducted as a Contributor, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.

Induction Ceremony

The 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony and its surrounding events are limited. Custom sponsorship and hospitality packages are available. In addition, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is developing additional events and programs to complement the Induction Ceremony and allow as many fans as possible to be part of the celebration. Individuals looking for additional information should call 866-914-FAME (3263) and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

To learn more about the Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony or about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com or call 401-849-3990.

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 218 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

An Interview With Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

CHRISTOPHER CLOUSER: Good afternoon, everyone. With me here besides Andre and Anne Marie is Mark Stenning, who’s CEO of the Tennis Hall of Fame. I thought we’d take a minute with Tony Trabert. Tony is the president of the Tennis Hall of Fame. He also chairs the enshrining nominating committee, and it always comes up as we are fortunate enough to announce an inductee, the process. So Tony, will you take just a minute and go through what you and your committee do?
TONY TRABERT: Sure. We have people that are proposed for the Hall of Fame. We go to that group of people, and if we think they are worthy we put them in a book that we call. We have recent player category, we have master player category, a contributor category and now a wheelchair category, and we have an enshrinement nominating committee at Wimbledon each year, at which time we talk about the recent players we think should be on the ballot.
We are 21 on that committee, international, and then we vote for any of the master players we think should be on and then contributors. And then it goes to — we have various panels that vote, and some of the same — some people are on both voting panels, some are not, and you have to get 75 percent of the votes that are returned to be elected.
CHRISTOPHER CLOUSER: Tony Trabert was elected in 1970 and serving as our president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We are here in Las Vegas at Agassi Prep. We had a wonderful ceremony here with 600 students who now represent kindergarten through the 12th grade. It’s my fourth time back at the school, and every time I come I’m a little more uncomfortable because I know I could never get in here. It’s a wonderful place, and it was an emotional thing.
I said to the group, 25 years ago today there was an announcement that went out of the Tennis Hall of Fame that announced the selection of Arthur Ashe to the Tennis Hall of Fame, and that July 25 years ago, Andre was 15, I was much older, let’s just say way out of college, and I think if Arthur was here today, not just because of the tennis accomplishments, and I don’t think Jeanne would mind, who serves on our board, I think Arthur would say today he’s met his match. He’s met his match on the court, his match as a human being, as a philanthropist, a guy that was committed to improving people’s lives on top of committing every tennis accolade there is.
That’s what we told the students today and then Andre took some wonderful questions and said how important this was to him. I’m sorry you all weren’t there, but it was a wonderful ceremony. So Andre has been nice enough after being worked over by these 600 students and the press to take some questions today. Is there a question that you all would like to address to Andre?

Q. You had a great career obviously, a lot of incarnations during your career. I was just curious how you want to be remembered, what do you want your legacy to be in tennis?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was hoping you didn’t notice those tips and turns through my career. You know, this is such a special moment for so many reasons, but mostly for me today because it was done here at the school and so profoundly connects my past and my future. You know, tennis was a vehicle that gave me my life’s work.
You know, tennis allowed me the opportunity to impact people for a few hours when I was playing, and then my career has given me an opportunity to impact people for a lifetime if not generationally. And my hope, like in tennis, was to leave the sport better off than it was when I entered it. That was always my hope as it relates to life and legacy. My hope is to leave everybody in my life starting with my own family and then my extended family, which is the school, better off for having me a part of their lives.

Q. One of the things that fascinates me so much about your story and came through so well in your book is this sort of mixed message if you turn back the clock to the days when your dad was firing balls at you out on the court and you were feeling like you really missed out on the, quote-unquote, normal childhood. And then you came up through the game, and now here you are going into the Hall, and all these incredible achievements that have happened in your life, the prep school, et cetera, et cetera, happened because of the tennis. I wonder if you could reflect on that a little bit. Was it worth it, all the sacrifices that you made during your childhood?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I’ll answer that with the short answer, which is yes. It was worth it because we all have our cross to bear in life, so to speak, and while mine were certainly unique in some cases, it did teach me a lot about myself. I learned a lot about myself, probably at a slower rate in some cases, but in others at a faster rate. And at each intersection of my life I was always striving to understand myself better.
And I had what I call a hate-love relationship with tennis, not a love-hate. I went from resenting a life that was chosen for me to at 27 years old after being No. 1 and then falling to No. 141 chose to take ownership of my life and to find a reason to do what it is I do, and then that’s when I started the school. And I built this school, and I all of a sudden felt like I was connected to a team. All of a sudden tennis felt like a team sport. I felt like I was playing for something but I was also playing — I was connected to something but I was also playing for something much larger than myself.
And it then gave me my life’s meaning, my purpose. It then gave me my wife, and as a result, I’m so grateful for where I find myself for many reasons, but starting with the fact that I have this opportunity to change these children’s experiences, these children’s expectations, and ultimately their lives.

Q. If I could just follow up, in the tennis business, of course, we always talk about what it takes to create a champion, what the ideal tennis parent is, so now looking back would you say that the way that he raised you — are you saying some of that was really necessary, maybe some of that pushing is what you need to go through to get to all you’ve achieved?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I can’t honestly say that you need to go through that. You know, when you look at other people’s experiences, I don’t know how transparent they are. You look at a Federer who seems to be so comfortable on the court and comfortable in his own skin, and to do things so gracefully and so easily, and hopefully he has a healthy upbringing in the game.
My father made a lot of decisions that I wouldn’t make, unquestionably, and I represented him not as abusive, but I represented him as very intense. Along with that intensity came intense love, came intense generosity, came intense us against the world, and also came intense pride. And there’s something very profound about a young man feeling like his dad is proud of him, and I always felt that. He used to introduce me as the No. 1 player in the world, future No. 1 player in the world, so there was a lot that I represented about him. I think it was a loving, honest portrayal.
But do I think you need to make the decisions he made to succeed? Absolutely not. You need nature and you need nurture. You need to be born with a gift, no question; it’s too competitive to be the best in the world at anything to not be born with a certain gift. But you also need it nurtured so that that gift can flourish, and in my dad’s case nurturing meant thousands of tennis balls and intensity, but in other cases I don’t think it needs to mean that.

Q. When we were doing the television, we all thought that the last Grand Slam tournament you would probably win would be Wimbledon because it was on grass. We thought the first one that you would probably win would be the French on clay, and it was just the opposite. Do you have any thoughts on that?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I have to keep the trend up, the conflicts in my life. Tony, it’s good to hear your voice. Your voice, you have left an indelible mark on me over the years, but hearing your voice, I realize how indelible your voice is in my mind and my connection to the game, so nice to hear your voice, Tony.
You know, I really felt like I could have won the French first. I agreed with you then and now that it probably should have been and that Wimbledon probably should have been my last, if at all. But the game changed shortly after I came into it, and once I had a player that could take offense from both wings, they could exploit the fact that I treated clay courts like a hard court.
For me I’ve loved playing on clay for the first few years of my career because it was just more time and more opportunities in a point to just beat somebody up because all I did was take the ball early and make him run and I never had to worry about defense. But when I lost out on those first two opportunities and then I started playing the likes of Courier, who was very aggressive on both wings against me, or Bruguera, who moved well and could generate that kind of spin with both sides and open up the court, I quickly realized that clay was not, like most Americans, my best surface.
So my hopes for Roland Garros changed really early in my career, which is why it makes it so powerful that after coming back from 141, 29 years old, that I found myself with that opportunity to win it again, and it speaks to how scared I was walking out if that finals that day thinking that this tournament would elude me for the rest of my life.
Wimbledon on the other hand was a surface that rewarded a person who could take charge of a point early. So winning Wimbledon surprised me until I’d played it, and I don’t mean in ’87 when I lost first round to Leconte; I mean when I went back and got to the quarters and had two sets to one and two breaks on David Wheaton to play Becker and Stich in the semis and finals who I both had a heavy head-to-head record on.
I started to really believe I can win here because if you can get start off well on grass it was hard for a player to recover. Grass played very fast, and the return was just shot-making and I felt comfortable there. So it didn’t surprise me how comfortable I felt at Wimbledon, but it did surprise me how quickly I got uncomfortable with pairs.

Q. Most athletes come to their second career after their first one is over, and you were in the rare position of finding it while you were still playing. Why do you think that happened to you, and has that been a benefit that you were able to overlap your kind of ongoing career with your future career?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it happened to me because I played until I was 36. You know, had I faded off into the sunset in 1997, which I wish you understood as closely as I do just how close I was, you know, I’m not sure I would have had something to go towards. But my spirit to fight on and to give myself the permission to quit but to not choose it gave me the fortitude to start to envision what I really want for myself. And tennis was such a great opportunity to have that mission become a reality.
I don’t know why others don’t, other than any sport is all-consuming. It’s a short window and a short career, and mine was almost a short career. But the fact that I continued to push myself and make myself better gave me the time to make sense of a few things and then gave me the age and perspective to not lose out on that opportunity.

Q. You gave such a beautiful speech when your wife was inducted into Hall of Fame, and I was wondering if you can share any of her thoughts or comments on your acceptance.
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it’s interesting because we’re going through the same thing just in reverse. I got to experience watching her go through it and knowing her so well and how understated she is. I would never suggest that she did not want to go through it, but I would just say that she was — she doesn’t need it to be who she is. And those around her really were proud for her, and the love that I have for her allowed me to really understand fully just what it means to be in the Hall of Fame because I wanted it for her even though she didn’t necessarily crave it for herself.
Now that she went through it, she feels differently, but now she gets to see it through the perspective of somebody she cares for deeply, and she wants it for me, even though I tend to say it’s a bit nerve-wracking. I can’t hardly believe that it’s actually happening, and I don’t feel like I need it to continue my mission in life.
But seeing how I felt for her allows me to embrace this even more than I would have because so many people that have been around me that care for me want it for me, and I know that because of how I felt for her.

Q. After your last match against Becker in Ashe Stadium, it was really kind of a Lou Gehrig type moment when you addressed the crowd in New York and there was a lot of emotion. I wonder if you could not only reflect on that moment but also what emotions might come up when you’re addressing the crowd in Newport?
ANDRE AGASSI: Sure. The thing with New York, that was — that had very little to do with missing a tournament, missing a career. It had to do with a connection to people that I was so grateful they felt to me. That’s why that was emotional, because they were connected to me and I was just quite frankly thankful that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.
In Rhode Island, I don’t know what to expect. I think it’s probably doing yourself a disservice to expect anything one way or the other. I’ve seen others go through it, and it never ceases to amaze me how surprised they are by the occasion. So I’m going to probably for one of the rare times in my life will just allow myself to be surprised, you know? But I will put a lot of thought behind it because I think if you care about anything you do, and I will make my best attempt to communicate what tennis has meant to me, what it means to others, and what it means to certainly a lot of children’s lives here in North Las Vegas.
CHRISTOPHER CLOUSER: So July 9th is our induction in Newport, Rhode Island. Obviously you all are invited. Andre is the sole inductee in the recent player category. We will be announcing one additional person who has been elected into the contributor’s category. We’ll be announcing that Thursday of next week from Melbourne.
Andre loves his school, and we’re happy to be here. He walked in and said, “Now, the school is not paying for this phone call, are they?” For the record, it is not. We want to thank you for joining us, and I want to thank Andre for a terrific day and a terrific announcement.

Tennis 360 Has Brad Gilbert on Wednesday

Join Andres as he welcomes ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert to “Tennis360″ this Wednesday October 13th. Listen in as Brad discusses his thoughts on the state of the game, the current Davis Cup coaching vacancy, and his friendship with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Gilbert, an Olympic Broze Medalist and former coach to Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick & Andy Murray, will join us LIVE this Wednesday. Don’t miss out!

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HENDERSON’S MUHAMMAD FALLS IN HOMETOWN EVENT TO ALBANESE, WHO FACES CIRSTEA NEXT ON 21st BIRTHDAY

LAS VEGAS, Nev., (Sept. 30, 2010) – Lauren Albanese had a miserable 20th birthday one year ago, losing to Asia Muhammad in both singles and doubles at the Lexus of Las Vegas Open.

A day before her 21st birthday on Thursday, Albanese got some satisfying revenge, beating the hometown hero from Henderson in the same round as last year, 6-4, 7-5.

It was a boisterous Red Rock Country Club crowd cheering all the way for Muhammad who lost in last year’s quarterfinals one round after beating Albanese. “I can understand it; you would expect it with her being from here,” Albanese said of the fans. “Maybe I can get them on my side tomorrow. I’ll need it. It’s no fun losing on your birthday.”

Muhammad let a 5-1 lead slip away in the second set as Albanese survived two sets points down 5-4 in the most intense game of the match. Muhammad was disappointed she couldn’t force a third set. “I just love this tournament and I’m encouraged with how well I played this week,“ Muhammad said. “Lauren played the best I’ve seen her play.”

Albanese, ranked No. 238 in the world and from Jacksonville, Fla., will have her hands full Friday as she goes up against No. 3 seeded Sorana Cirstea in the quarterfinals. “I’m excited to play a former Top 100 player and to see how I’ll do,” Albanese said of Cirstea, the 2009 French Open quarterfinalist.

Cirstea is guaranteed to have several fans on hand as she trains part time with the Adidas group in Vegas with Andre Agassi’s former coach Darren Cahill, who was on hand to watch on Thursday while Gil Reyes and Sargis Sargsian were on hand for her first-round match on Wednesday.

Unseeded 29-year-old American Abigail Spears beat wild-card Chelsey Gullickson to also move into the quarterfinals. The 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia Gullickson lost the first set at 6-0 for the second straight match. But unlike her last match where she came back to beat Julia Cohen, Gullickson couldn’t hold off Spears. 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

“I just came out and didn’t miss,” said Spears, who said she was unaware of Gullickson’s slow starting issues. Spears, who was born and raised in San Diego, currently resides in Pueblo, Colo.

She will meet Mirjana Lucic, the No. 4 seed from Croatia, in the first match on Stadium Court at 10 a.m. Friday.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores

q: qualifier; wc: wild card

Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4), def. Heidi El Tabakh, Canada, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), def. Julie Ditty, U.S. (q), 6-2, 6-3

Edina Gallovits, Romania (1), def. Alexandra Mueller, U.S. (wc), 6-3, 6-4

Valerie Tetreault (Canada) (8), def. Kimberly Couts, U.S., 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2

Abigail Spears, U.S., def. Chelsey Gullickson, U.S. (wc), 6-0, 5-7, 6-4

Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), def. Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S., 7-6 (8), 6-3

Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (6), def. Alexa Glatch, U.S. (wc), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

Lauren Albanese, U.S., def. Asia Muhammad, U.S., 6-4, 7-5

Second-Round Doubles Scores

Alexandra Mueller, U.S. / Ahsha Rolle, U.S., def. Kimberly Couts, U.S. / Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (3), 6-2, 6-3

Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4), def. Christina Fusano, U.S. / Courtney Nagle, U.S., 6-2, 6-3

Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S., def. Madison Brengle, U.S. / def. Amra Sadikovic, Switzerland, 6-4, 6-3

Abigail Spears, U.S. (2) / Mashona Washington, U.S., def. Stephanie Foretz Gacon, France / Alexa Glatch, U.S., 7-6 (3), 7-5

Friday’s Order of Play

Stadium Court Starting at 10 a.m.

Abigail Spears, U.S. vs. Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4)

Followed by Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), vs. Lauren Albanese, U.S.,

Followed by Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4), vs. Abigail Spears, U.S. (2) / Mashona Washington, U.S.

Court 2 Starting at 10 a.m.

Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), vs. Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (6)

Followed by Valerie Tetreault, Canada (8), vs. Edina Gallovits, Romania (1)

Followed by Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S., vs. Alexandra Mueller, U.S. / Ahsha Rolle, U.S.

The following is a tentative schedule of events supplementing the tournament:

COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • Friday, Oct. 1 – Volkl/Becker Racquet Day, 6-8 p.m.

USTA Members Day ($10 off admission for all current USTA members)

  • Saturday, Oct. 2 – Super Semifinal Saturday; USTA Ladies League Luncheon.

For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com

LAS VEGAS PAST CHAMPIONS

Singles

Year                Winner                                                Runner-up

2009                Regina Kulikova (RUS)                      Aniko Kapros (HUN)

2008                Camille Pin (FRA)                               Asia Muhammad (U.S.)

2007                Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)                 Akiko Morigami (JPN)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.)                           Hila Rosen (ISR)

Doubles

Year                Winner

2009                Aniko Kapros (HUN) – Agustina Lepore (ARG)

2008                Melinda Czink (HUN) – Renata Voracova (CZE)

2007                Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.) – Annabel Ellwood (AUS)

PRIZE MONEY

SINGLES:                  Prize Money              Points

Winner                         $7,315                         70

Runner-up                   $3,990                         50

Semifinalist                 $2,185                         32

Quarterfinalist             $1,235                         18

Round of 16                $760                            10

Round of 32                $475                            1

DOUBLES:                Prize Money (per team)

Winner                         $2,660

Runner-up                   $1,425

Semifinalist                 $760

Quarterfinalist             $380

Round of 16                $285

USTA Pro Circuit

With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.

Tennis360 Debuts And Is A Huge Success

The “Tennis360″ radio show comes to you LIVE from the Lexus of Las Vegas Open, a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event featuring some of the best female tennis players in the world.

Listen in as Andres Borowiak interviews renowned coach and ESPN analyst Darren Cahill about his current training program with adidas, his past coaching experience with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, and his thoughts on the Lexus of Las Vegas Open.

Also joining on this show are Tournament Directors Tyler Weekes and Jordan Butler who discuss their second annual event, as well as USTA Nevada Executive Director Ryan Wolfington and defending NCAA Champion Chelsey Gullickson.

Don’t miss any of these guests as “Tennis360″ debuts on TennisLedger.com!

Q & A With Bill Mountford of World Team Tennis

World Team Tennis completed another successful season back in July. With a unique format and fast action, it’s no wonder it has been around for 35 years.

But what about its future? Well today, Tennis Ledger is proud to interview Bill Mountford, the former Director of the National Tennis Center and the LTA in England, who is currently Vice President of WTT.

Tennis Ledger: Tell us a little about the Elton John event in Washington, DC this November.

Bill Mountford: WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO is an annual charity event co-hosted by longtime friends Billie Jean King and Sir Elton John. Elton is a huge tennis fan and wanted to do something in the tennis community so he teamed up with Billie Jean to create Smash Hits. The money raised from this tennis event and pre-match reception, as well as the live auction, will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Washington AIDS Partnership. This is the first time in the event’s 18 year history that it will be held in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s a great night of tennis for a great cause. The talent is unbelievable – Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, James Blake, Anna Kournikova and we will be adding more names. All these tennis greats volunteer their time and talents and the quality of tennis is terrific. (NOTE: visit www.WTT.com/SmashHits for information and tickets.)

TL: How would you assess this past season of WTT?

BM: The 2010 season was a great celebration of the 35-season legacy of World TeamTennis. We had a season loaded with top players like Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, John McEnroe and the return of Martina Hingis among so many other recognizable names. In the WTT Pro League, we like to showcase three generations of tennis and bring quality, professional team tennis to supportive markets. Only two of our 10 markets have other big-time professional tennis events, so we recognize that it is vital to showcasing our sport in this country. Our 35th season culminated with one of the most exciting finals in recent history with the Kansas City Explorers winning their first-ever WTT Championship before a standing-room-only hometown crowd. It was a great finish to a memorable season.

TL: Are there any expansion plans on the horizon?

BM: As far as the WTT Pro League is concerned, we are not looking to expand beyond 10 teams in the U.S. right now. However we are discussing opportunities to take World TeamTennis to international markets. We had a successful WTT exhibition event at the 2010 Australian Open and we hope to build on that. On the Recreational TeamTennis side of the business, we are always seeking opportunities to establish new leagues in new markets. These WTT “Rec Leagues” are a great compliment to USTA Leagues all over the country, and there are 16,000 players who currently participate. We’d all love to see that number continue to grow.

TL: Any new innovations anticipated for 2011?

BM: We have begun preparations for the 2011 WTT Pro League season and we surely remain open to trying new things. My “blink” response to the question would be: “Yes!” WTT has been long been viewed as the “think tank” for professional tennis and we enjoy our role as innovators. It is likely that a few of our new ideas for the pro league – and for the overall betterment of our sport – will be put forth. Stay tuned on this…

TL: How actively involved is Billie Jean King with WTT?

BM: Billie Jean remains quite active with World TeamTennis, and WTT will always be a big part of her legacy in the sport. Along with CEO Ilana Kloss, she certainly remains the leading ambassador and spokesperson for WTT. Billie Jean has often said that if you want to see her philosophy on life, then you should watch a World TeamTennis match because it showcases men and women working together with equal contributions.

Richard Kent is the author of the tennis books “Inside The US Open” and “The Racket.”