LAS VEGAS NV BLOG: AGASSI SEEKS VICTORY IN CHARITY EVENT AT MANDALAY BAY
He has been retired for about 6 years, yet Andre Agassi still has a competitive itch in that sometimes needs scratching.
To in that end, the 42-year-old Las Vegas NV tennis legend & Hall of Famer finds ways to remain involved in the sport through charity events & by participating in the 30-and-over PowerShares Series, which stops at Mandalay Bay tonight with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships. Agassi, Michael Chang, John McEnroe & Jim Courier will meet at 7:30 pm, & Agassi is looking forward to entertaining the local tennis community.
“This year feels better than last year,” Agassi said. “Last year, it led to my (right) hip surgery, & now I’m pain free. I feel great. I’m bending down on every shot.”
Last year at the Thomas & Mack Center, Agassi beat Courier & Pete Sampras to win what then was called the Champions Series. Tonight, he’ll meet the 53-year-old McEnroe, who has made the final in 7 of the 1st eight matches on the 12-stop tour, winning in Chicago last month. If Agassi wins the one-set match, he’ll face the Chang-Courier winner in a one-set match.
Points are awarded for performance, & the player who accumulates the most points at the end of the tour wins $500,000. Second place is worth $350,000 & third $150,000. Courier is the points leader with 1,400, followed by McEnroe with 1,200. Agassi, who played Friday in San Jose, Calif., will be playing in his third event tonight. He is last with 100 points.
“I’ve received some catching up to do,” asserted Agassi, who finished third last year behind Sampras & Courier. “Obviously, I want to play well in my hometown. I’ve been working out & getting ready. I’ve put on some strength, & the hip feels great. It’s all coming together.”
The Association of Tennis Professionals no longer stops in Las Vegas, so the PowerShares Series is the only chance to catch competitive tennis. Agassi asserted he thought the Tennis Channel Open, played at Darling Tennis Center from 2006 to 2008, might have had a better chance of succeeding had the dates been better than late February & early March, when the wind was whipping & the temperatures at night were in the upper 30s.
“It would be wonderful if we can grow the game in Las Vegas,” he said. “But there are some factors, mainly the calendar, which work against us. There’s only a few windows to be able to play outdoors.”
Agassi asserted tennis has a better chance of drawing crowds to Las Vegas if it focuses on major events such as the Davis Cup. The 1995 Davis Cup was played at Caesars Palace & well received. Agassi & Sampras were on the team in that defeated Sweden. “You need to get the right matchup,” asserted Agassi, hinting in that a U.S.-Spain or a U.S.-Switzerland Davis Cup round would draw from the star power provided by Spain’s Rafael Nadal & Switzerland’s Roger Federer.
“But getting the huge event is the right idea.”
In September, the United States Tennis Association honored Agassi with induction in to its Court of Champions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Steffi Graf, his wife & fellow tennis Hall of Famer, was inducted in to the Court of Champions in 2004.
“New York was a place where I grew as a tennis player & a person, & my relationship with the New York fans was so special,” Agassi said. “Being able to state goodbye (in 2006) & then to come back & watch it come full circle, it was a magical moment.”
Written by Steve Carp, 702-387-2913 or follow @stevecarprj.