About SAMPRASFANZ - Making Our Own History
In 1996, Vanda Carson and her friend, Zoe, both of Australia created the original mailing list which was called Sampras@Crisny.org.
They started it because they were frustrated by the lack of Pete news in Australia. The list grew to about 70 members by 1999, when it was destroyed by the computer virus “Melissa.” Our members, who had kept email addresses of other members, compiled a list while others looked for a way to recreate our mail list. Rina Manning came up with a way using egroups and named our group Samprasfanz. Eventually Yahoo took over egroups and we became Samprasfanz@yahoogroups.com .
At present, we have over 1000 members from many places around the world. The ones we know are: Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Panama, Philllippines, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad-Tobago, Yugoslavia, and Venezuela. In the United States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C, and Wisconsin.
Samprasfanz is a good mixture of all ages from all over. What is amazing is how we all get along, considering that we come from different age groups and from many different cultures. However, it is our combined love of Pete Sampras that is the glue that sticks us together. Members can read articles and press conferences, and look at many pictures, plus converse with other members. As a group we have sent telegrams, faxes, cards, and gifts, to Pete, Bridgette and their children.
During the time that Pete played on the pro tour, we followed him with our yellow and blue banners to tournaments . You may have seen these banners on ESPN as we have been shown many times at Grand Slams and Master Series Tournaments. Our latest showing was at Pete’s retirement ceremony at the 2003 U.S. Open. Our banners go with members who will be attending the tournaments and then are sent back to Deb Willet, a long time member from New York, who is the keeper of the banners. The banner idea was suggested by Dr. Philip Ip of Hong Kong, also a long time member. He had banners made up saying, “Pistol Pete – Playing for History,” “Welcome Home Pete,” and “Pete Sampras Grand Slam Legend.” We then added another banner, “King of the Court,” made in Australia by member Janeene Eckford. Passing the banners means being an honorable member and seeing that you send it back for others to use after you are finished with it. Now that Pete is retired, we continue to take the banners to Exhibitions, World Team Tennis, Outback Championship matches and Champion Tennis Series started by Jim Courier.
In 1999, Samprasfanz donated over $1200, to Tennis for Charity and took an advertisement to wish Pete Good Luck in the Great American Insurance ATP Championship Program in Cincinnati. In 2000, we made donations to The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation in the amount of $1344, and in 2001 we donated $1245.The year 2002 was a great year for us. We created a Tee Shirt with Pete’s picture on it and sold it for donations. The shirt was created by Dr. Philip Ip of Hong Kong and we were able to raise $4000 for the Gullikson Foundation. In the year 2003 we raised enough money to buy 40 trees to create a forest in the UK in honor of Pete and Bridgette’s son Christian Charles Sampras. On August 29th, 2005 Ryan Nikolaos was born to Pete and Bridgette and once again Samprasfanz collected enough money to buy Ryan 90 trees to be planted in California to help replace the trees that had been burnt in forest fires. (All donations by members are strictly voluntary.)
Samprasfanz has rules: No foul language, no attacking or harassing other members for their opinions. This includes sending them a personal e-mail attacking them for an opinion expressed in this forum. We do not always agree, so this is where our “Agree to Disagree” rule comes into play. Secondly, before Pete retired we used the “Spoiler” rule. This rule says that if Pete was playing and you sent an email that had a score in it, you put Spoiler in the subject line. This is a courtesy to people who may be at work and taping the match to watch at a later time. Also, the matches are on at different times in different countries, and we would not want to tell them the outcome of a match before they got to see it. Because most of our fans are people who enjoy tennis, we still use this rule whenever we email about another player’s match and have a score in the email.
When Pete was playing on the pro tour, we would get together in a chat and have the live update on so we could see the scores of the match. Even if the match was televised for a tape delay showing, we could not wait, we wanted to see the scores as they happened. Then we would know if we wanted or didn’t want to watch the match. We just couldn’t stand watching him lose. Although, some of us watched anyway, because we needed to know how he lost. We did many things to help Pete win. We sent vibes by way of candles, stuffed dolls, changing clothes, walking out of the room, taking make up off or putting it on. Anything that we thought would help. One crazy time, we cut up dolls with Pete’s opponent on it and dunked it in salsa…. I know, crazy, but that’s what real fans do. We voted in every poll that was out, and we would vote hundreds of times to get Pete to win the poll. We gave other players funny names, not to be mean, just to have fun. We were hungry for the draws to come out. We would figure out who Pete had to get past so his draw would be easy. We slept on the streets of London to get tickets to Wimbledon. Oh my, that was great fun!!! In Cincinnati, we went to a restaurant during a rain delay for some dinner. Pete was the night match and we were not sure that he would get to play. We called the tournament director from the restaurant at least a dozen times to find out the state of the match. When finally the match was going to start in 15 minutes, we had the restaurant box all our food up and off we sped to get back in time.
Now that Pete has retired, we have made a great effort to stay together, to hash over old tournaments, and look at different statistics, and just talk as friends. We have gone through a lot as friends and we want to keep it that way. Let’s face it, our families thought we were obsessed, just couldn’t understand why when a match was on, why we couldn’t eat, why our stomachs churned, why our fingers shook as we tried to type in scores and c’mon Pete. They thought us weird that our walls were filled with pictures of Pete. Well, hehe, not the whole house. One member went off to college and she had a table at the side of her bed in her dorm that was decoupaged with pictures of Pete. Another member saw a huge picture of Pete in a sporting goods store and nagged at the manager until he gave it to her. To this day it hangs in a great frame in her living room. We have tapes and DVD’s of Pete’s matches, interviews, ceremonies ….. you name it, we have it.
Now that Pete is back playing in World Team tennis, many exhibitions, and the Outback Championships, we avidly watch to see if these matches are televised. It is a joy to see Pete play looking relaxed and smiling, but still able to throw in the aces and play great serve and volley.
There will never be another player on a tennis court like Pete Sampras. His beautiful style of play, and his gentlemanly behavior, a quiet champion who let his racquet do the talking. No, no one will replace him. The media will try to replace him, but it will never happen.
We love you Pete – Long live the King of the Courts!
Information provided by Joy Parker, President. She is from Peculiar,
Missouri which is near Kansas City. Missouri, USA. She has been a member
since 1998 and personally done the cards, posters, and has been involved
with Philip Ip in the creation of our Banner Project. She is also President
of Samprasfanz Foundation. A project requesting USTA to give permission
to Samprasfanz to erect a statue of Pete on the grounds of the US Open in
Flushing Meadows New York.
Updated September 23, 2011