Close Encounter with Pete Sampras
October 3, 2002 - Here is an update to my story for Encounters with Pete:
Since I last wrote I have seen Pete 4 more times: 2001 US Open Quarters and Final, and 2002 US Open 3rd round and Final.
What can I say about last year's quarterfinal match with Andre except perfection!!! As I was watching the match in the stands I couldn't believe what I was seeing, 2 legends playing at their best and just crushing the ball to all corners of the court! I was in heaven! 5 sets would have been great but I'm not sure Pete could have made it. I went with my fiance at the time who is now my wife. She was a trooper. She is not a Sampras fanatic like me but she made it through the match. The tension was so thick that I let out barbaric screams of joy when Pete won! Embarrassing, yes, but what can you do.
I'll skip the Hewitt fiasco and fast forward to Labor Day 2002. I had just returned from my wedding/honeymoon in Hawaii and was sick and jet lagged. But a chance to see Pete on Armstrong Stadium.....hell yeah I was going. I arrived to purchase my grounds pass at 7:11 in the morning and was the first person in line. I sat in the damn rain from then till the match started at 6:48pm!!!! I almost went home at 5pm but the rain subsided and I said why not! Oh am I glad I stayed! The match with Rusedski was incredible. A 7th row seat was not too bad either! What a high I was on after Pete pulled that one out!!! I considered leaving since nothing could top that but I stayed and saw Federer, Miryni, Clement, Coria, Henman, Chela, Hewitt, Novak, A-rod, and Corretja play. What a night! It was magical to say the least!!!
Just when I thought that day couldn't be topped, Pete and Andre are in the final!!!! It is the ultimate experience for a Sampras fan to watch Pete play Andre for the US Open crown!!!! I was deeply honored to be there. The match was fantastic. Every point was all out war!!! Pete put the superman cape on one more(last?) time and willed his way to victory over Dre. When Pete put that volley away I jumped up and down crying and screaming like a baby!!!!! My journey as a Sampras fan was complete. My favorite player had won my favorite tournament against his greatest rival right in front of my eyes. It will never get any better for me as a Pete fan. If Pete walks he will become an eternal US Open champ. If he continues, there may be more magical moments. Either way, what a glorious trip it has been. Thank you Pete! Thanks for believing in yourself! Good luck with your decision.
I have seen Pete play 4 times at the US Open - 4th round in 1989 and 1990 and the final in 1992 and 2000. He is 1-3 in matches I have seen live so I don't bring Pete much luck!
I saw him lose to Jay Berger, (who has a weird service motion), to Stefan Edberg, and to Marat Safin. The one match he did win in my presence was the one against Thomas Muster - en route to the 1990 US Open title and tennis stardom! Not only was it special to see Pete win, but I was able to get his autograph! Yep, my brother and I went down to the court after the match and were able to get Pete to sign his picture in the program. It is one of my most prized possessions!