Service Winner Andy Roddick
Friday, December 1, 2006
by Kevin Kaminski
Andy Roddick re-established himself as a force on the men’s professional tennis tour with his success on the hard courts this summer, including a win at the ATP Masters Series event in Cincinnati. His impact locally, meanwhile, remains as strong as ever thanks to the work of his eponymous foundation, which supports a variety of children’s programs in South Florida.
Those organizations once again will benefit from Roddick’s star-studded charity weekend, Dec. 8–10. The sixth annual affair features something new—an opening-night Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood—in addition to a gala and tennis event at the Polo Club in Boca Raton (for more information, visit arfoundation.org).
Roddick, who maintains a residence in Boca as well as one in Austin, Texas, spoke with Boca Raton about the work of his charity and this year’s festivities:
You’ve said that a conversation with Andre Agassi (who will be at Roddick’s event) was the inspiration behind your foundation. Why did it have such an impact on you?
I have shared this story many times, but it still rings true. When I was 17, before I was even a ranked professional, I caught a ride back to Boca Raton on Andre’s jet and was scared to say a word [laughs]. He finally asked me if I had any questions for him. He didn’t know what he [was getting himself into]. After two hours of chatting, one particular answer stuck with me. I asked him what his biggest regret was. I expected him to talk about dropping down in the tennis rankings or something along those lines. He looked at me and said that he did not start his foundation early enough. I didn’t want that same regret. I just hope that I can make as much of a difference as Andre has.
How has the foundation impacted local organizations like Back-to-Basics Angel Foundation and Kids in Distress?
Working with [Back to Basics, which provides basic necessities for children in need], we were able to provide 3,700 uniforms for students. … Without charitable [funding], Kids in Distress could not develop the remarkable program that enables [it] to care for over 6,000 abused and forgotten children. Giving kids school uniforms- or food around the holidays sounds easy, but sometimes the practical things go [the longest] way.
What stands out about the first five years of the event?
I think back to our first year when we were ecstatic about raising $37,000. It is awesome to realize how far we have come. Last year, we raised more than $2.2 million. … The biggest thrill is hearing how what we have done has given a child a better chance at life. That is what this is all about.
A Texas Hold ’Em tournament? Are You a card shark?
I love to play poker, and I play it a lot. Unfortunately, for me, there is a big difference between playing a lot of poker and being a good poker player. ... My tennis friends [Mardy Fish, James Blake] play; it gives us something to do when we’re in foreign [countries].