By Jan Stanski
In the breakthrough period of 90’s and far then American tennis has its boom time because of great tennis players like Pete Sampras – the mastering champion of Wimbledon, Andre Agassi – with his one of the best return in the history, Jim Courier – great clay court player, Michael Chang – the youngest Grand Slam champion and Todd Martin – the one of the tallest competitior on the court and big server. All of this players lifted the level of the game for spectacular.
The first one born in Washington and growing up in California started swinging racquet at the age of 3 and… achieved the 14-time Grand Slam championship. One of the best of Wimbledon and US Open player ever. His worst tournament of majors was French Open but the lack of winnings in this case was fulfilled by Courier, Chang and Agassi.
Sampras with his Greek roots made with one year older Agassi one of the most fascinating rivalries in the history of tennis in general – having overall 34 of clashes, 20 wins for Sampras and 14 for Agassi.
Started professional career in 1988 when he was sixteen! The first match versus Agassi in 1989 he lost earning only three games but in his first important US Open and last performance in New York he beaten in finals the man from Las Vegas. In 1993 became the ranking leader for the first time. On the #1 spot he remained for 286 weeks and it was the record till Federer (302 weeks).
“Pistol Pete” for many considering as the one of the greatest in the history for others as one of the most boring players. Why? The American always wanted to prove his value on the court and then off-court he used to be calm person with no eccentric and extravagant actions or behaviors. In the comparison to Agassi which was one of the most “colourful” player ever that could be understandable for that reason. And maybe that contrast was more attractive for the sponsors and marketing issues and the whole rivalry of both ‘Nike’ sportsmen which made lots of commercials in that matter.
With his extraordinary talent Pete rewrote history books by holding the #1 ranking for six consecutive years. The worst season was year 2001 with no Grand Slam titles.
Engaged and married in year 2000 with actress Bridgette Wilson. “Marrying Bridgette was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I have good balance and stability in my life” – was saying Sampras back in the days.
In the year 2007 name of Pete Sampras was written on the list of International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Coached in professional tennis adventure by Tim Gullikson and Paul Annacone. Having very various style of game with “serve and volley” plus extremely dangerous forehand from the baseline which was effective on fast surfaces. For many tennis fans and experts his matches against Agassi, Courier, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic or Pat Rafter were the most exiciting in the history. We can only regret that Pete was playing earlier at the time without Federer (they played only once), Nadal or Djokovic. He dominated the game at his peak.
In his book “Champion’s Mind” he says: “But if you want to be the best at something, then something needs to become a sense of your life. You can not have everything. It is impossible to lead a rich social life, reconcile scientific ambitions with sport and still focus on all of them. To become good at tennis, you need a lot of time and work, and the most important are the youngest years