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Posted on: July 22nd, 2006

Sampras takes on the FoxForce

- petepage

Associated Press

AVON -- Pete Sampras is back. Well, sort of.

After a nearly four-year retirement, Sampras is playing for the Newport Beach Breakers in the World Team Tennis Pro League. He was in Avon Friday for a match against the Hartford FoxForce at the Apple Arena at the Blue Fox Run Golf Course.

Sampras ended his career in 2002 after beating rival Andre Agassi for the U.S. Open championship, his record 14th Grand Slam.

During his first year away from the sport, he spent a lot of time decompressing because he was burned out, he said. Then he began getting a little bored.

"I kind of took that first year to have some fun and let loose a little bit and after three years of doing that I got a little bit restless," Sampras said in a news conference before the match. "I decided to maybe play some this year."

Friday's match was delayed more than 45 minutes because of rain. When play finally started, Sampras took on the FoxForce’s Glenn Weiner in a men’s single set.

Amid shouts of "Pete, Pete" and "I love you Pete!" Sampras struggled against the little known Weiner, but showed occasional flashes of brilliance with a couple of winning running forehands and crisp volleys.

Overall, however, Sampras was less than sharp and lost the set 5-2. Afterward, Sampras appeared to be in pain, rubbing his right hamstring, flexing his leg and stretching. He was later treated for a pulled hamstring.

But Sampras came out for the second set and played doubles with Rick Leach against Weiner and Goran Dragicevic.

At one point before he served, the quiet Sampras drew laughter from the crowd when a Pearl Jam song was briefly played on the PA system. He stopped his toss and said to the soundman, "That’s the best thing you played all night."

Sampras and Leach ended up losing the set 5-4. That was all for Sampras, but tennis fans still left knowing they had seen a legend.

The FoxForce won the match 24-16.

"I wish I could have played a little better. I did the best I could," Samoras said.

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