ATP TENNIS NEWS.
ATP Insider - For the Week ending March 2, 2006
© ATP Valencia
ATP INSIDER -- Giving you an inside look into the ATP for the week ending March 2, 2006
UP FRONT ....
->> – SAMPRAS RETURNS, BUT DISMISSES COMEBACK… After a three-year hiatus, legendary Pete Sampras is ready to pick up his racquets again. The 34-year-old American will first make an appearance at Houston’s River Oaks International exhibition tournament come April, and will follow up that performance by joining the World Team Tennis Pro League, which will see him playing around six matches during the July 6-26 season. The 12-team league has featured a mix of circuit stars of past and present, including Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick and Venus Williams, but this mark Sampras’ World Team Tennis debut. He will be selected in the March 28th draft to join a team that comprises two men, two women and a coach. Is this a precursor for a professional comeback? "I miss playing the game. I miss the majors. I miss competing. But to play at the level I used to play is a whole other animal. I've done that, and I know what it takes," Sampras told the AP. "Me playing a little tennis this year is something I can control; there isn't any pressure. I can relax and have a little fun. Coming back is not something that crossed my mind." Sampras fittingly went out on top in his last professional match, defeating Andre Agassi in the 2002 US Open final to capture a record 14th Grand Slam title.
->> – BLAKE, BRYANS HEADLINE DESERT SMASH… Before taking the courts at the first ATP Masters Series event of 2006, JAMES BLAKE, BOB and MIKE BRYAN and TIM HENMAN will make a stop at the annual celebrity tennis and golf event benefiting the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation. Held March 7-8th at the La Quinta Resort & Club in California, the circuit’s stars will join PETE SAMPRAS, MARIA SHARAPOVA and various celebrities for a packed schedule that includes a pro-am tennis tournament, tennis exhibition, celebrity-amateur golf tournament, cocktail party, silent and live auctions, and gala dinner. Oscar winner Joe Pesci will serve as host of the golf tournament on day two of The Desert Smash. The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation helps fund support programs for brain tumor patients and their families to assist with their physical, emotional and social challenges.