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Close Encounter with Pete Sampras

Location: Toronto, Canada
Date: July 2000

I have been a Pete Sampras fan since the first time my parents made me sit down and watch a tennis match. Luckily, it was the 1990 US Open final when Pete was just 19. I was 8 years old and to me he seemed so amazing since he was so young and so intense. Because of that day I have admired him so much for his perserverence and his drive to win.

I was in Toronto in July 2000 at a downtown Italian restaurant finishing up a glass of red wine when all of a sudden in comes 3 men. The last one in the back looked me dead in the eye and I in turn gave him a aweful glare. I was 17 at the time and the restaruant was full of cocky young waiters that had been staring and winking my way all night; so by the end of dinner I was so fet up that if one more person looked my way I was going to explode. Pete looked so normal in his cream colored long sleeve shirt and jeans that i never would have thought that's Pete Sampras. But as soon as I realized it was Pete who was looking at me (most likely just because i was sitting at the last table in front of his curtained off section) I screamed "Oh my god, that's Pete Sampras!" for the whole restaurant to hear. I was estactic. I couldn't contain my excitement and I didn't know what to do. Being from the South I didn't want to be rude and interupt but three men at the next table told me to just walk in and talk to him, and I thought to myself (who really cares about being rude when your idol is sitting right behind you.) So I did exactly that sord of. Normally I am a very confident person but in this case my knees were knocking when i walked into the curtained section. I froze. Which I still can't believe but Pete smiled and said hello and asked how I was and if he could do anything for me. I could only chirp out "Hey Y'all" to the two gentlemen with him and then even worse let out a high pitched "Hi Pete!" I'm still embarassed to this day that I wasn't a little more smooth but oh well. I proceeded to ask him if he wouldn't mind taking a photo with me but he politely asked if I could wait til after dinner. With his two friends holding back their laughter at me I just said yes and ran out-- never getting my Photo Op with Pete.

The next day I went and saw him play in the Canadian Open and while he was sitting during a change over and everything was quiet I got my personality back and stood up and yelled out "Pete you owe me a picture." He looked up at me stunned and cracked a smile. I'm sure he must have thought I was crazy with my very noticible southern accent which definetely stood out in a very Canadian crowd. But I like to think that even if I didn't get my picture with Pete that maybe I gave him a funny memory to look back on. And at least I've gotten a good story out of it the whole experience.


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