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Fee
07-15-2007, 11:57 PM
Sampras makes appearance in New City
By HAROLD GUTMANN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: July 16, 2007)

NEW CITY - He might have just been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but yesterday Pete Sampras could have passed for a USTA player just trying to finish a match.

The rain came down on the clay courts of Dellwood Country Club, but Sampras continued his exhibition match with Justin Gimelstob, even as spectators fled the stands to find shelter.

"A Hall of Famer playing in the rain!" shouted Gimelstob, as the remaining crowd voiced its approval.

The downpour eventually became too much, and play was stopped after Gimelstob won the first set 6-1 and Sampras was leading the second set 4-1. While the match was brief - 45 minutes, including a 10-minute stoppage for an earlier shower - more than $100,000 was raised for charity, and local tennis fans got a chance to see a legend.

"It was just nice to see him play since he retired," said Steve Kastens of Suffern, one of 980 ticketholders. "I know it's not his favorite surface (clay). He had to work out the cobwebs in the first set, and in the second set he began hitting the ball beautifully."

Sampras came to New City to play an exhibition match against Gimelstob, his hitting partner in Los Angeles, as part of the Kennedy Funding Invitational tennis tournament. Tickets were sold at $100 for the event, with the proceeds going to the Breast Care Centers at Englewood (N.J.) and Nyack hospitals. Organizers continued the fundraising efforts right to the end - while the players were warming up, tournament co-director Mitch Klein auctioned off a picture with Sampras ($2,600) and Gimelstob's racket ($900).

Combined with the money raised during the men's and women's tournaments, more than $500,000 will be given to the two hospitals.
"I'm happy to be a part of it. I'm happy to help," said Sampras, who is on the board of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center and has lost two aunts to the disease. "Breast cancer is something that's been a part of my family. It's a tough disease, and I'm just happy to help out a little bit and play a little tennis."

His appearance capped an event that drew six players ranked in the top 100 and issued $250,000 in prize money over the past five days.

"This was way past my wildest dreams," co-director James Miller said. "From a charity contribution, the tennis tournament, everything. The amazing thing is, at all times people just keep saying what can't be done, and I've never let it stop me. I am beyond blown away right now."

After playing a set against Todd Martin for a Hall of Fame exhibition in Newport, R.I., yesterday morning, Sampras flew into Westchester County Airport and Gimelstob picked him up and drove him to Dellwood. Only in the locker room before the match did he find out he would be competing on clay.

"He beat me on every other surface. He should have a chance to do it on clay," said Gimelstob, who lived up to his billing as the most quotable person on tour with his frequent dialogue during the match.

Sampras said it was the first time in his career that he had played on two surfaces in one day, and he didn't look comfortable until the end. In the first game of the second set, Sampras started out with two double faults, then hit two aces, then double-faulted again before finally winning the game with an ace.

Sampras has played events for World TeamTennis and Jim Courier's senior tour and will face Roger Federer in an exhibition November in Hong Kong, leading to speculation he is planning a comeback.

"When I was ready to retire, it was emotional. I had nothing left in my heart to keep going," said Sampras, who didn't play for three years after his retirement. "After that decompression, I missed the sport a little bit. I feel like I was getting a bit restless just playing golf and staying home a lot. I decided to really open myself up and play more exhibitions. That's what I'm looking for - nothing stressful. I can dictate my schedule, where before tennis really dictated my life. It's a good place to be."

And for the first time, that place happened to be Rockland County.

"I'm a dreamer, always have been, and this is my dream," Miller said. "What we had today is what I've been dreaming about for the past five years."

Reach Harold Gutmann at hgutmann@lohud.com or 845-578-2465.

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070716/SPORTS01/707160377/1108

armand
07-16-2007, 05:50 AM
good article, thanks for posting.

I thought the Sampras-Federer exhibition was to be played in Malaysia, or Indonesia or somewhere in there. Now it's Hong Kong?

classic tennis
07-16-2007, 07:29 AM
It's not in Hong Kong....it's Korea & Malaysia....HK wont stump up the sponsorship.

armand
07-16-2007, 08:43 PM
So there are gonna be 2 matches....?

ckthegreek
07-17-2007, 02:44 AM
3 matches in November

quest01
07-17-2007, 08:59 AM
Sampras will just be part of Federers fun house come November.

Prostaff_hk
07-17-2007, 09:20 AM
3 matches: Korea, Malaysia & Macau

ollinger
07-17-2007, 09:40 AM
I attended the event in New City and enjoyed what there was of the abbreviated match, though it had the intensity of an exhibition. Playing in the rain was the least Pete could do -- a friend on staff at one of the beneficiary hospitals told me Pete received a $70,000 appearance fee, an undisclosed amount of which he donated back to the cause.