Posts Tagged Andre Agassi

Success In Tennis And Life

Once again I am amazed—even giddy— at how powerful a few techniques can be…in tennis. A slightly changed grip, move an inch closer to the base line for my serve, rotate the stance a few degrees, and PRESTO: I am hitting the best serves of my life…with pop and power. All following the advice of a really great coach, Rob Ober, who used to play with Agassi 20+ years ago.

Same improved results from two little changes to my back hand. One was “Just turn your body and relax as if you were talking to someone at a cocktail party,” Rob told me. And without tensing up or muscling the shot, I hit it right in the sweet spot more powerfully and accurately than ever. Can’t wait to compete now.

But I always have to extrapolate to non-tennis life. Could success in romance, business, career and any other arenas also be dependent on just a few adjustments, what ever they are? I wish that could be so. I know it is a slower process to achieve results in life, and certainly it’s harder to implement the theories.

But maybe it’s much simpler than we imagine.

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Inductee Stories To Applaud And Cry About At Hall Of Fame Ceremony

Capriati (left) and Seles on the podium

Last year’s group included Andre Agassi. This year (7/14) I’d heard only of Jennifer Capriati. She was introduced by earlier inductee, Monica Seles. Both women were crying like babies…so overcome with emotion and pride and thrilled to be acknowledged by their peers. Two others in the class are Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten and Randy Snow.

Other Hall of Famers on the podium included Vic Seixas (14 Grand Slams), Owen Davidson (12 GS), Rosie Casals (9GS), Stan Smith (7 GS), Gigi Fernandez (17 GS), Butch Buchholz, and Brad Parks who created wheelchair tennis competitions. Many of these wins were in doubles and mixed doubles.

The stories and histories described are powerful and overwhelming.

Monica Seles: In 1990, at the age of 16, Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion. She went on to win eight Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday and was the year-end world no. 1 in 1991 and 1992. However, in April 1993 she was the victim of an on-court attack, when a man stabbed her in the back with a 9-inch-long knife. Though she enjoyed some success after rejoining the tour in 1995, including a fourth Australian Open success in 1996, she was unable to consistently reproduce her best form.

Guga walking around the court with his certificate of induction

Jennifer Capriati: A former number one, and the winner of three women’s singles Grand Slams. She was the youngest ever player to crack the top 10 at age 14 and reached the semifinals at her first Grand Slam event—the 1990 French Open. She won a Gold Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, defeating Steffi Graf in the final. Then she burned out in 1993, took a 14-month break from competitive pro tennis and had personal struggles that included arrests for shoplifting and possession of marijuana. She also spent time in drug rehabilitation in 1994. She then made an admirable 6-year comeback, winning her first title in 1999, then two Grand Slams in 2001, and finally becoming world number one…until injuries derailed her career in 2004.

Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten: Another former number one, he won the French Open three times (the first time when he was ranked 66 in the world). He was introduced at the ceremony Saturday by his mother, who was crying with pride, and then Guga gave a 10-minute speech without reading any notes, speaking off the cuff, and crying himself throughout. He said he can barely speak English, so how could he possibly write a speech in English. His mother told how his tennis player/coach father died when Guga was 8 in a country that adored soccer and had minimal interest in tennis. Once his talent became apparent, the family sold their car, their house, and used their savings to promote Guga’s career. It was stopped by injuries and many hip surgeries.

His youngest brother had oxygen deprivation during birth, and as a result suffered from mental retardation and severe physical disability until his death in 2007. Kuerten was deeply affected by his brother’s daily struggles, later donating the entire prize money from one tournament he won every year to a hometown NGO that provides assistance for people with similar disabilities. He gave every trophy he won to his younger brother as a souvenir, including the three miniature replicas of the French Open men’s singles trophy.

I am going to devote a separate post to Randy Snow, who was so amazing and inspirational.

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Why I Admire Fabrice Santoro’s Tennis Game By Joe Marshall

Joe Marshall loves Fabrice Santoro’s ultra-unorthodox style, and many of Joe’s opponents have complained to me how maddening it is to play against him. It’s full of lobs, spins, surprise placements and drop shots, and a ball that lacks all the speed and force of what most modern power tennis is about. Maybe you’d find it works for you. In the video above, Fabrice is the guy who keeps returning the balls that the other guy just can’t seem to put away. There is another video that won’t embed. This is Joe’s fifth article in a series about winning tennis strategies for doubles.

The magician, Fabrice Santoro. He played for 22 years on the pro tour, the only man in the open era to play in four decades. His highest rank in singles was 17, yet he was as high as 37 in his mid-30’s, a year or so before he retired.

Fabrice beat more #1 players at some point in their career than anyone else (tied with Andre Agassi). He was 3-4 against Pete Sampras, 3-3 against Andre, 8-3 against Marat Safin, 1-0 against Jimmy Connors….he beat a total of eighteen #1’s. It was Pete who named him The Magician.

No one had more joy on the court, no one had a more original style (his main shot was his two-handed, cross handed, righty forehand slice, which he hit primarily with his left hand! Sound impossible? Watch the video).
In an age of power and more power, Fabrice hit the ball softly, neutralizing power, and using his opponent’s aggressiveness to confound him…..like Judo the way the monks invented it. He was a showman and a great sport, quick to compliment his opponent on a great shot with a bow or applause.

He could beat you many different ways….great defense, tricky spins, looped passing shots, drop shots, lobs, sneak attack volleys, and gentle but confusing approach shots….he was afraid of no one. He has the record for the most singles losses in the open era (more than 400), but he won more than he lost (more than 450 matches), and was a great doubles player, winning a couple of grand slam titles. He had the record for the longest match ever (beating Arnaud Clement at the French open in 6 hours and 40 minutes over two days) until it was eclipsed by the famous John Isner-Nicolas Mahut three day affair at Wimbledon. I doubt that they will let him on the senior tour….he would wear them all out…..Enjoy!

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Tommy Haas Has Abs

Tommy Haas

Off to an ATP tennis tournament this week in Newport, RI. I hope to hit balls on that surface myself. On Saturday, I will applaud Andre Agassi, when he is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The highest ranked player in the match is John Isner (#46), who beat Nicolas Mahut (#95) at Wimbledon last year, 70-68. This was the longest pro tennis match ever. I always felt sorry for Mahut…to lose such a marathon of a match. Mahut is also in the Newport draw. I hope he does well.

Tommy has abs

Another player whose name I recognize is Tommy Haas, who in 2002 was ranked 2nd in the world. What an achievement! However he has had numerous injuries over the years and even been unable to play for long stretches, so that now at age 33, he is ranked 768. But in tennis, 33 is ancient. What is it like to have been so high in the rankings and then to fade out so low. I feel sad for him too.

In reading about his career, I bumped into some pictures of him that show he has—or had—very pronounced abs. What do you think?

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Please Don’t Worry About Me, I Am Fine

Some readers are wondering why I haven’t been posting lately—the longest interruption in a year. I am simply out of town on spring break vacation, was preparing for the trip, was working on some intense business obligations and have been playing sports almost every day! Even went to the gym three times so far this week.

Yesterday one friend wanted to play tennis twice during the day in 76-degree sunshine, and then my daughter challenged me to join her and her friend in a Miami Zumba class. We were the only non-Latinos in the class, and it was really a sensuous, sexy, sweaty group. Lots of rolling hips and hair-whirling heads. Even the elderly women shook shoulders and twirled like girls. I love it. Spicy, like Hot Salsa. Blasting music…my ears were ringing. And a very different flavor from the Zumba class I took in Connecticut. As a result, I slept more than nine hours last evening. I was really tired.

So please be patient. I am reading Agassi’s auto bio and Brad Gilbert’s tennis guide called, Winning Ugly, so my tennis game should improve. I have lots more to tell, once I am back home on my own computer with a number of articles and stories ready to post. Thanks for your patience…

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