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Samprasfanz » Archives 2003 to 2011 » Sampras won’t play at Houston tennis tournament [Apr 10, 2003]

Sampras won’t play at Houston tennis tournament [Apr 10, 2003]

Pete Sampras withdrew from the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships less than two weeks before the event is set to begin at Westside Tennis Club.

Sampras called Westside owner Jim McIngvale to withdraw Tuesday night. The news came as a disappointment to the organizers, who hoped Sampras would make his 2003 debut in Houston. Sampras has not played any tournaments since he won the U.S. Open in September.

“I certainly understood,” said McIngvale. “Who am I to question one of the greatest players of all time? I think he’s still weighing whether or not he’s going to retire permanently. It’s a disappointment, but at the same time, I respect his decision.”

Sampras has entered a number of tournaments in the past two months, and then withdrawn from all of them. His decision to skip the Clay Court Championships was of little surprise, even though his coach did call Westside just two weeks ago to make sure Sampras was in the main draw.

During the conversation with McIngvale, Sampras said it just wasn’t time for him to return.

“He just said, `I want to tell you, that I think a lot of you and Linda (McIngvale), but I’m not going to be playing in your tournament. I wouldn’t be doing your tournament justice,'” said McIngvale. “I just don’t think he’s in shape, and he’s still weighing whether or not he’ll play on.”

Clay has never been Sampras’ best surface. Many believe if he does return to the Tour this year, it will be when the grass season starts so that he can play Wimbledon one final time.

Despite Sampras’ constant withdrawals this season, there are indications that a return is still imminent. Only a day after
withdrawing from the Clay Court Championships, Sampras requested a wild card for the Stella Artois Championships at The Queens Club on June 9. The tournament follows the French Open and is the years first on grass.

U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe has kept in touch with Sampras during the past few months, and said Wednesday that Sampras returning to the Tour for grass events makes more sense than his return during the clay season.

McEnroe said he doesn’t believe Sampras will play in any clay events this year.

“I’d be surprised,” said McEnroe. “The only thing — I spoke to him when I was out at Indian Wells. My feeling was that the only thing that could possibly happen is that he’ll play Queens and Wimbledon. I mean, that’s my feeling.

“But he doesn’t know. So I don’t think … nobody knows. But he seems perfectly happy doing what he’s doing right now.”

Sampras’ absence will not alter the Clay Court Championships, considering his presence was constantly in question. The tournament still boasts Andre Agassi, who is off to a 17-1 start this year. Two-time defending champion Andy Roddick will also be at Westside, along with the nine other Americans currently ranked in the world’s top 100.


Source: Houston Chronicle

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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