Vamshidhar Kommineni

September 24, 2006

The end of a Tennis era

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 6:12 pm

A little late posting this (considering the US open finished on 9/10 :)

Agassi retired at the US Open bringing the end of an era of male tennis players from the US that dominated tennis from the late 80s through the early part of this decade. The players include Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang and others (whether Chang deserves to be in that list is still very debatable seeing as how he won just one grand slam).

Of all the above players, Agassi was definitely the most interesting one to watch in my opinion. His style of play and his on and off court personality was always so much more enjoyable than watching Sampras play. Seeing his evolution from young, brash teenager to the mature, wise elder sportsman of tennis was a real pleasure and one that will not be easily forgotten. His marriage/life with Steffi Graf (the second greatest and easily the most under-appreciated female tennis player IMO) is an interesting twist of fate as well.

It remains to be seen how Agassi will be measured 20 years from now and whether he’ll still be remembered fondly or forgotten as many of the old greats were. And of course, all tennis legends may pale in comparison to Roger Federer if he keeps playing at his current pace for a few more years.

Here are a couple of choice quotes from Agassi that I picked out from the many glowing articles written at the end of his career (emphasis is mine). They sum up his spirit better than I could describe it:

Question: I don’t know if you’re going to take your kids out to hit tennis balls. When you look back at your father, at such a young age, instilling this game into you, some would say in a very obsessive way, do you reflect back that as hard as it was, you probably wouldn’t be sitting here today if he hadn’t?

Answer: That’s for sure. There’s no question about it. What we’ve gone through, our moments of not seeing things eye to eye, it has been his journey and it has been my journey.

The pride I take in everything I’ve experienced has to do with what I’ve poured into it, not necessarily what that experience was. I mean, I think tennis is one vehicle. I think we can find excuses in life or we can find inspirations. I’ve always tried to find inspirations. I am thankful for my father giving me this game.

Q: Andre, when you play this well, like you have this week, it leaves the rest of us wondering why you cannot or will not commit myself to playing like this your entire year?

A: I wish in many respects that I could, you know, balance more at the same time. But part of me says that’s not the way I do things … I’m trying to give all to everything in my life. And it doesn’t seem to do anything but drain you. So I’ve responded to it real simply by focusing my attention intensely at different times. … I just made a decision to work at it. You know, to start enjoying my work, getting into my work and doing it. … It has to be a commitment that transcends the hype of whether I’m back or not. But more than anything, it’s just not wanting to do anything in a mediocre fashion. It’s not easy for me. If I’ve ever given that impression, I’ve misrepresented myself because it’s been tough on me.

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