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Old 10-17-2004, 02:48 PM   #69
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Default Re: Andy's Charity Appearances

Roddick serve is life of tennis party

By Dave Vilhauer

American News Sports Writer


It is one of the most talked about things in the sports world today, and several spectators got an up close look at it this past week.

Andy Roddick and his famed world record 155 mile-per-hour serve were part of a tennis exhibition at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks this past Tuesday. Roddick was facing tennis legend Andre Agassi.

While the match was for fun, Roddick did not back off on his lethal weapon. Balls went flying all over the place and those in the baseline seats got hit more than once.

Among the spectators who felt the sting of the Roddick serve were Aberdeen residents Nate and Jackie Reede. Nate tried to catch one of the potent serves and Jackie actually got nailed in the shoulder.

"It had a little sting. I think it bounced first," said Jackie.

Nate, who was a standout player at Aberdeen Central, was not the only one who muffed a chance at catching one.

"All night I didn't see anyone who actually put a grip on it," he said.

Friendly advice: The Reedes sat close enough to carry on a conversation with the players. At one point, Nate shouted some instructions to Roddick, the number two player in the world.

"I yelled that he was going to have to serve out wide or he was going to hurt us all night long," Nate said. "He said, 'Just for that, I'm going to come at you the entire night.' I don't know, maybe he did."

The Aberdeen couple had a fun evening and did not mind sitting in the precarious position.

"We knew that we had courtside seats," Jackie said, "but I didn't know they would be right behind the players. There was a little bit of thrill to it, but it was still fun. I would have sat there again."

Agassi knows full well what Roddick's serve looks like.

"Andy's serve is arguably the best serve the game has ever seen," Agassi said. "It's one of the few times I feel like I'm surviving out there. But you feel that much better when you break him."

Memorable moment: During the exhibition witnessed by a number of Aberdeen area residents, Roddick heard a spectator yell, "I could return that."

Roddick promptly stopped his service motion and went and got the fan out the stands to give him a chance to prove it.

"All of his buddies were getting on him a little bit, so I figured we'd have a little fun with it," Roddick said.

Agassi gave the man his racket and then watched as Roddick blasted serve after serve at the fan. Of course, the spectator did not stand a chance at returning the ball and after about five tries returned to his seat.

"Hopefully, it made for a good laugh," Roddick said. "I thanked him for being a good sport."

Later, when Luke Jensen asked Agassi what impact the fan had made in the match, Agassi joked, "It helped me with my self-confidence. After seeing that, I said, 'You know what? I'm not so bad. I kind of like me.' "

To which Roddick chimed in, "After serving to that guy, my self-confidence was high, too."

No substitute for experience: While Roddick has a huge serve, Agassi is known as the best return man in the history of tennis. He broke Roddick twice in the 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) exhibition victory.

"Andy plays the game much differently than I do," Agassi said. "I marvel at his firepower on the court."

While technology and athleticism have changed the game considerably, Agassi still finds ways to compete with the heaviest of hitters.

"I've had to become stronger and fitter and make quicker decisions out there," Agassi said. "My game has the ability to step forward on the court which has helped me a lot. I've been able to pick the ball up and not let too many people dictate what's going on."
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