Edition Date: 12-03-2005
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Tennis legends Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are married, but they've never played together as a mixed doubles team.
That changes tonight in Boise.
Agassi and Graf, who have won 30 Grand Slam titles between them, are the headline names for the Rock-n-Racquets exhibition event at Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State campus.
Other players on the agenda include ATP Tour pro James Blake, the world's top-ranked men's doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan, and Belarusian teenager Viktoria Azarenka, the No. 1 ranked junior girl in the world.
Doors open at 6 p.m., with matches scheduled to begin at 7. Tickets cost between $15 and $85 and are available at the Taco Bell Arena box office, Select-a-Seat outlets, online at www.idahotickets.com, or by phone at 426-1766.
Tonight's format includes:
• Blake, the Bryan brothers and Azarenka will sign autographs in Lobby 3, starting at 6.
• A DJ from the Scratch DJ Academy in New York City will handle musical entertainment.
• Wayne Bryan, the father of the Bryan twins and a two-time World TeamTennis coach of the year, is the master of ceremonies.
• The men's doubles match starts at 7, featuring Agassi and Blake against the Bryans, who won their second Grand Slam title at the 2005 U.S. Open.
• Agassi (eight Grand Slam titles) and Graf (22 Grand Slams) will play mixed doubles against Mike Bryan and Azarenka.
• The night ends with a men's singles match between Agassi and Blake. They will play a best two-of-three sets format, with two traditional sets. If a third set is necessary, it will be a super tiebreaker (first player to 10 points, winning by two).
This is a rematch of their five-set quarterfinal match played at this year's U.S. Open. Agassi won 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 (8).
Despite rumors that he's about to retire, the 35-year-old Agassi has confirmed that he will play the 2006 season, including next month's Kooyong Classic in Australia.
Graf retired from competitive tennis in 1999.
12-03-2005, 09:11 AM
Love conquers all -- even in tennis
Agassi and Graf form a formidable twosome on and off the court
BY JOHN PACKETT
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Dec 3, 2005
The husband and wife team of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf had never played mixed doubles together before last night's Genworth Children's Advantage Classic.
"I anticipate winning the mixed," Agassi said prior to the exhibition against Andy Roddick and Anna Kournikova in front of a sold-out audience at the Siegel Center.
Agassi's forecast proved correct, as he and Graf pulled out an 8-7 decision, claiming the eight-game pro set by virtue of a 7-4 tiebreaker and then celebrating with a long kiss before heading to the net to shake hands with their victims.
The Agassis smooched more than once during the match, which may have made up for the time that Graf hit her husband in the back with a return during one point.
"It'll certainly be a great experience for us," said Agassi before the match. He is still plying his trade on the tour while his wife, 36, has been retired since 1999. "To enjoy each other on that level. I don't anticipate things being too fiery on our end."
In other words, Agassi wasn't counting on either of them being disturbed when the other missed a shot.
"We haven't really done that [gotten mad] yet," Agassi said. "I don't think tennis will get us there."
Indeed, there were nothing but smiles and grins from the Agassis, who were married in October, 2001, and have two children, Jaden and Jaz. While they weren't exactly color coordinated, the couple played well enough together to outlast Roddick and Kournikova.
Just because they prevailed against some pretty stiff competition -- Roddick didn't hold back on many of his trademark rocket serves -- doesn't mean there are any plans to play together on the circuit.
"That wouldn't be my guess," Agassi smiled. "It takes a lot to get her to put herself in that position out there. The reasons why we're here are why we're doing it at all."
All of the proceeds, which totaled a little over $500,000, will benefit Virginia Commonwealth's Lobs and Lessons program for inner-city kids and the William Byrd Community House.
In the final match of the evening, Agassi showed that he can still stay with the best in the world at 35 when he pulled out a first-set tiebreaker and went on to post a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 verdict over Roddick, 23, who finished 2005 ranked No.3 in the world. Agassi wasn't far behind at No.7.
"My game is one that's designed to play against different styles of players," said Agassi, who's planning to get 2006 started with the Australian Open next month. "More than anything, it's important to have the motivation and focus, and I've done that over the years.
"I'm still challenged, but the challenge has certainly taken on a different nature as I get older. I'm still very motivated to get out there and figure out a way. If I can stay healthy and play well throughout the year, then I'll take a good look at it and see where I stand."
Prior to the matches, all of the players participated in an afternoon clinic for about 300 kids from Richmond and Newport News. Some of the invited juniors -- most were from underprivileged neighborhoods -- went on the court and hit with the stars, while the majority watched from the stands and tried to absorb the lessons.
The afternoon and evening sessions were taped by The Tennis Channel for showing later this month and next year.
Contact John Packett at (804) 649-6313 or email@example.com
12-03-2005, 10:37 AM
Does someone has pictures?
12-03-2005, 02:46 PM
Playing for a good cause
Andre Agassi and friends come to Richmond to raise money for charity.
BY DAVE JOHNSON
December 3, 2005
RICHMOND -- Andre Agassi is a tennis player, one of the greatest his sport has ever seen. He's a philanthropist, hitching his name to whatever organization he truly believes in. And he's a family man, with a wife and two children.
So time is precious. When he makes the effort to be somewhere, as he did Friday night in the Genworth Children's Advantage Classic at the Siegel Center, you know it means something to him.
"You have to be very careful how you stretch yourself because you don't want to dilute the very things that you care about," Agassi said. "So you're selective and you make it work. You prioritize your life and you make sure that your day reflects those priorities.
"That's a daily commitment - and a daily fight. A lot of times I make decisions that maybe aren't the easiest, and they take their toll. But more times than not, I make decisions that give me a lot of fuel and energy."
At 35, Agassi remains a Big Gulp of energy. Though some opponents are half his age, Agassi finished the year 38-12 and ranked seventh in the world. He was a finalist at the U.S. Open, where he provided one of the year's best matches with a five-set victory over James Blake in the quarterfinals. He says he's committed to playing at least one more year - beyond that, who knows?
You'd think he might slow down his off-the-court commitments, but if anything, he's busier than ever. He remains devoted to the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which provides educational and recreational opportunities to at-risk kids. That organization raised more than $10 million earlier this year during its Grand Slam for Children benefit. He won the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 1995 and 2001.
His wife, Steffi Graf, started the Children for Tomorrow Foundation, which helps kids who are victims of war, persecution and organized crime. They've always believed in helping children, a passion that only grew when they had their own - Jaden, 4, and Jaz, 2.
"You think to yourself before that it's terrible when a child doesn't have opportunity or hope or dream in their lives," Agassi said. "Then you have children and you realize what a tragedy it is, what a crime it is, that children don't have that rightful chance. It's reinforced the things I've always believed in a way that you could never put into words. It makes me thankful that I started years ago - and makes me wish I had started earlier."
Agassi didn't waste a moment Friday in an event that donated all its proceeds - a projected $500,000 - to local children's charities. Neither did his playing partner, Graf, nor their doubles opponents, Andy Roddick and Anna Kournikova.
That's quite a lineup, by the way. Agassi has won eight Grand Slam titles in his career, Graf a mind-blowing 22. Roddick, only 23, has won more than 200 matches over the last four years. And what Kournikova lacks on her playing resume, she makes up for in star power.
Their day started with a one-hour clinic/exhibition with several hundred children, including a group from Newport News with An Achievable Dream. During a question-and-answer session, Agassi was asked how many championships he had won. "More than those two," he said, nodding toward Roddick and Kournikova. "But definitely less than her," he said, nodding to his wife.
Then came a mixed doubles match. Before a packed house that included Gov.-elect Tim Kaine and Richmond mayor Douglas Wilder, Agassi-Graf defeated Roddick-Kournikova 8-7 (7-4). Though Agassi owned the crowd, Roddick had the best cut-ups. When Graf unexpectedly sprinted off the court for a quick break, Roddick yelled over to Agassi, "What'd you do?"
Then came Roddick vs. Agassi. Roddick cut loose on a few serves, though he probably didn't reach his record 155 miles per hour.
Agassi broke serve in the match's last game to complete a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory over Roddick. It was the night's only service break.
Agassi looked like a man having fun. When it comes to raising money for charity, he is.
"Giving back is something I've always believed in," he said. "I've structured 100 percent of my business relationships with (groups) that share my vision of how you can change the future. And that's through children." «