We're still watching, but not with blinders on
By HUBERT MIZELL
Published August 31, 2003
GOODNESS: For a few years during the prime of Pete Sampras, history's biggest tennis winner was our neighbor, living in Tampa Palms, down the block from Bucs quarterback Trent Dilfer.
If you ran into Pete in a restaurant, on a golf course or at a Lightning or Bucs game, the personality was admirably consistent - gentle, humble, shy, courteous, caring. Don't we wish every jock of note merited such a report card?
There was a warmth, a tingle at my shoulders, when Sampras was cheered into retirement at the U.S. Open on Monday, a year after going out a hero, shocking critics by winning a record 14th major title.
How about his future? Pete is just 32, with prodigious wealth from a $43-million career. Married to a beauty. Father of a darling son. Living in a Los Angeles mansion. Life could be terrific for the Samprases for, say, the next 50 or 60 years.
It's always easy for outsiders to suggest ways for the rich to invest time and money. But, knowing his demeanor, I would like to ask something of Sweet Pete.
How about getting involved with something that can be a civic wonder and a personal joy? Put your heart, soul and clout behind a project that can do much good.
Pete, ask your old rival, Andre Agassi, about his pet project. In a less glittering section of his neon-lit hometown, Las Vegas, today's most magnetic tennis name creates all operational revenues for a prep school that is to expand to full K-12 operations by 2009.
Or maybe it could be something like the involvement of boxer Oscar De La Hoya, who gave $1-million to a charter high school.
Tiger Woods appears to give a lot to his foundation for kids. Many athletes attach their names to community work; some doing just enough to reap P.R. value but, thankfully, there is a good number who work at it with sweat, heart and wallet. Derrick Brooks comes to mind.
You're a good man, Pete Sampras, heading into a lovely stage of golden existence, but I'm thinking you might agree ... there are too many money-sacking athletes who are less than prone to truly give back? Why does Michael Jordan keep coming to mind?
- Whatever happened to Carl Lewis?
[Last modified August 31, 2003, 01:47:13]
10-12-2006, 03:22 PM
Sporting dominators inspire awe and appreciation
By Freddie Powell-Tuck
October 9, 2006, 7:07 pm
A look at why winners aren't all bad
In today’s sporting world, there are a number of certainties - annual occurrences that you would stake your life, house and grandmother on. These include Tiger Woods winning one or more of the Majors, Roger Federer triumphing at Wimbledon, Valentino Rossi winning the MotoGP championship and the cost of sporting insurance at UEA being raised, but that is another issue.
Their opponents can struggle and strive as much as they want, but their fate always lies in the hands of these super stars. When performing at the top of their game these individuals appear unbeatable.
Trawl back a few years, and you had Pete Sampras, Lance Armstrong and Michael Jordan all dominating in their respective sports, as did Pascal Cygan in his ‘reign of terror’ for Arsenal. It seems to be the duty of an armchair critic to criticise the predictability of certain sports events, now or in the past. Who can forget the Michael Schumacher/Ferrari years, and in particular the dire 2004 F1 season in which the great man won thirteen out of eighteen races? Or the seven year reign of Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France, or Tour de Lance as it became nick-named?
However, whatever your take on the matter, it is extremely difficult to not marvel at the sheer brilliance of these super-athletes. I defy anyone to watch a Federer game and to not be impressed. The man’s combination of brutal power and graceful fluency leaves his opponents helplessly floundering. Woods, at the top of his game, is unparalleled by any golf player. His intense concentration, willpower and ability to dominate the field makes impressive viewing.
Again and again, people complain about the dominance of these athletes in their given sport. They bemoan the lack of competition, but in doing so miss the exact thing that makes sport so memorable. Sport is built upon the shoulders of legendary figures. Woods, Schumacher and Federer will, in the future, be revered in the same way we worship the memories of Pele, Ali, Maradona and Eddie the Eagle! Were we to have no dominating stars today, we would have nothing to look back on. It is time to lose the sour-grapes and appreciate these sportsmen while you still have the chance
10-29-2006, 01:39 AM
The ultimate guide to a big serve
By: Doug Browne
Just how important is a big serve? Look no further than American tennis player Andy Roddick, who has hit hundreds of serves at speeds higher than 140 miles per hour. Can you imagine driving an automobile over one hundred miles per hour?
How is it possible for a player, who is facing major pressure, to hit a serve so darn hard? It is truly remarkable for a player to own such an effective weapon and to have the skill to hit aces when he faces break points.
Here are a couple of essential tools one must grasp to become a good server: placement of toss, reach, rhythm, and a good relaxed arm. Let's examine what we need to do to become a winning server. Sometimes it is just as helpful to study a server who does everything wrong. Have you ever seen the new, poorly coordinated tennis player who moves his arms too fast from beginning to end?
This player offers no rhythm, and with the upper body moving too fast, is unable to have a good toss. The solution is to start the motion slowly in order to better grasp the all-important toss and then begin to build racket head speed. As we examine the serve more closely (right-handers), we will try to place the ball on the toss at 'one o'clock', with the left arm fully extended. The ball will be only two to three feet in height from the extended left arm. Poor servers often toss the ball too low (no higher than their eyes) or too high (three or four feet above the left-arm extension) and in either case, the timing or rhythm is off.
We need to keep the motion as simple as possible, and a good toss is the first great step in achieving that goal. Another salient point is that the player must have a relaxed hand and arm to add power to the serve. Too many inexperienced tennis players squeeze their grips extra hard, the 'death grip', and then slug away.
If players want to perform under pressure, their serving hands and grips must be relaxed, not tight. Have you ever observed a great free-throw shooter in basketball? The sharp shooting basketball player, someone like Boston great Larry Bird, has a great ritual. When he goes up to the line, he bounces the ball a few times, breathes and then fires away.
Great servers like Sampras, Roddick, McEnroe and others did the same thing. When servers perform their rituals, they are breathing and planning their strategy. In other words, the server is creating the perfect atmosphere, like bouncing the ball a few times and then plotting the next service placement. Remember, once the point ends, not only is the player not ready physically but also not ready mentally. Incredible servers utilize their time between points like an artist, so they can continually win their serves and place all of the pressure on their foes.
In conclusion, if you want to have a big serve you must begin with a good, consistent toss. Secondly, you must reach up and hit up and then snap for power. Make sure to have a relaxed arm and body and you will be able to create speed.
And, by the way, it doesn't hurt to stand over six feet tall!
(Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Director of Tennis and the Community Tennis Association President. Doug and his wife Leslie have enjoyed teaching players of all abilities at Hideaway Beach for over a decade. He can be reached by e-mail at DBrowne912@aol.com.)
The sheer dominance that Federer has is quite incredible. Other than Nadal on clay, it seems that nobody can really look like getting near him when he is firing. But everyone is forgetting something- there are NOT any decent servers out there anymore, unlike there were in the nineties. Back then you had the likes of Sampras, Becker, Rusedski,Goran,Rosset, Krajicek, who all were serving extremely accurately yet with great consistently compared to modern day players. Today, players seem content to simply roll their second serves in just to start the rally rather than use it as a weapon. Ok, there always exceptions such as Karlovich, but the aces percentage at Wimbledon was much lower in 2005 to what it was back in 1995. With todays constantly improving racket technology, one would expect more aces if anything. Yes, I know Roddick serves huge- but not that many aces compared to the guys I have listed.
Mark my words - YOU HAVE TO SERVE REALLY WELL TO BEAT KING ROGER!
I would give those 90's guys a better chance at Wimbledon against Federer than any player currently in the World Rankings
03-24-2007, 07:19 PM
Posted 8/25/2003 4:28 PM
From the Press Box
Sampras a rare champion who let his play do the talking
To commemorate the retirement of Pete Sampras, we can recall some of the more controversial, flamboyant and flashy moments of his career.
There was the time that ...
Well, maybe it was ...
Or then again, it could have been ...
Well ... never mind.
It is like searching for personality in a vanilla milkshake. You could look forever and find nothing. Only plain purpose. And a gob of championships.
Sampras is making it official Monday. Saying goodbye at Flushing Meadows, where it all began for him as a teen. That was 13 years ago. A long time. He's had, what, three or four changes of expression since then?
Somewhere out there is the rest of his life, with his baby boy and actress wife. If he lives it as he played tennis, he won't be heard from much. Wimbledon is nice, but there are now diapers to change.
"Hopefully," he said last year after winning the U.S. Open, "I will be a good father."
Turns out that was his last tournament. He was already looking to his next life. It was time. Tennis is one of the few places where a man is old at 32.
Here is a legend in beige. Sampras must be appreciated for his dominance, his will, the simple strength of his game. His unprecedented 14 Grand Slam titles must do the talking, as they've always had to do. Or else how would anyone have ever known he was there?
We are not accustomed to his stripe of celebrity. Greatness, with a mute button.
No scandals. No foolishness. Not much of a taste for the center stage.
It is hard to remember Pete Sampras trying to sell me something on television. In pictures, the only kisses I have ever seen him give have been to his wife or a trophy.
Imagine Sampras with a posse? Uh, no. It was news when his parents came to see him play.
In the end, there are no outrages or indignities or flaws. No infamous headlines. He is listed seven times as a Wimbledon champion, but will be much harder to find in any list of great quotations.
His words were seldom eventful. Watching him for his tennis was inspiring. Watching him for anything else was like sitting in front of a fish tank.
You want an unforgettable page from the scrapbook? How about the time he threw up? Dehydrated and nauseous, he lost his lunch at the U.S. Open, then walked back onto the court and beat Alex Corretja.
It seems a peculiar way to remember a superstar. But that was Pete Sampras. Mop and all.
There was also the Australian Open match he won in tears, as his coach Tim Gullikson fought cancer. Or last year's U.S. Open title, delivered at his twilight.
But mostly, the victories came in a steady and relentless manner that leaves them vaguely lost as individual landmarks. Sampras' legacy is built on an astounding body of persistent work, not stirring moments for a highlight tape.
There was, of course, no gaudy farewell production. Not his style. Monday came and went to thunderous noise, and he was gone. It is improbable to think of him coming back. He is not a boxer.
"I wanted to stop on my terms," he said last year after the U.S. Open.
And now he has, a famous champion who never seemed that interested in being famous. It always seemed like he belonged on a tennis court, and the image he created came from discipline and restraint.
They are not fancy qualities, but ones to celebrate, here in the summer of Kobe Bryant and Baylor basketball.
03-27-2007, 08:25 PM
Sad truth is there's no room for beauty in the win-loss column
March 12, 2007
There is a tendency to see all those who play extravagantly as morally right because they entertain us. But do we really want every athlete to be like Henri Leconte, a tennis player who cared little whether he won or lost so long as he went the pretty way? Ilie Nastase was adored at Wimbledon for his style and swagger; he was twice a finalist but doomed to lose. Pete Sampras, one of the all-time greats in all sports, was disliked because he was "boring"; this was seen by some as a moral failing.