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Close Encounter with Pete Sampras

Location: Colonial Classic (Kooyong, Australia)
Date: January, 1997

It was a wonderful morning in Kooyong, a suburb of Melbourne, just a week before the beginning of the Australian Open 1997. I had arrived at the Kooyong, Colonial Classic, where Pete was set to play in this round robin tournament.

It was my first time in Melbourne in years, I wasn't able to make it to the Australian Open, so instead I had to settle for the warm-up tournament. Agassi was playing and I couldn't bear to watch him any longer, so I told my friend who was with me that I had to go to search for Pete. All I came across was Mark Philippoussis yellow Lambourghini, then a small crowd circulated and it was only AA leaving the court. I knew Pete was to be on court next, so all what I had to do was to wait. Then, security guards and many people started to come my way, my heart started to pound and there came the mighty SAMPRAS! I didn't ask for Pete's autograph, as I know he doesn't like to be disturbed before matches.

I swear to God that Pete was looking at me, he saw me and kept coming closer till he stopped, looked into my eyes and posed for the camera. I was the only one who had a picture of Pete as the security guards sheltered him from the flashes of others. It was a dream that came true!

After the match, I thought I had to go for Pete's autograph, so I left the game early and waited outside the court. I was totally oblivious to what was going on around me, when that young man of Greek background whispered something in my ears, "It is crazy here, isn't it?", and I'm like, "duh, hello! Pete Sampras is coming out, " then he said, "Oh yeah..." he looked around, checked his watch a few times and said he had to go somewhere. My friend then goes, "Sally, I wonder where he was from, he had Pete Sampras on his security tag". I couldn't believe it, I didn't even realize I was talking to GUS, Pete's BROTHER. I regretted my behavior very much, I kept thinking if I wasn't excited I could have got into a conversation with him.

After that Pete came, I tried to grab his arm and bag and as a result, I lost my shoe and was elbowed in the stomach by some kids. I was not successful in taking Pete's autograph, but that day was the best day of my life!


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