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Close Encounter with Pete Sampras

Location: CA Trophy (Vienna, Austria)
Date: October, 1998

It's so great, sometimes miracles just happen!

When Pete played in Vienna for the first time in 1998 I really wanted to watch him practice. But watching players practice is not usual in Vienna. So I called one of the reporters from Austrian TV (I knew he is a fan of Pete, too!) and told him about me being such a huge fan of Pete. I told him about my tape and picture collection, that I think it’s such a pity that just a few people all over the world notice what a miracle he is, that I have waited such a long time have an opportunity to see him in person and that my greatest wish is to see him practice even just once in my life. I obviously convinced him (boy, was I proud! LOL) and he arranged a meeting and organized a press card for me to put around my neck. With this little paper, almost all doors were opened for me. I felt like somebody very important!

During Pete’s practice, I was right there sitting on the first row. I was so excited that I could hardly hold my digital camera, much less find the right buttons to press – it’s a miracle that the pictures I took did not come out totally unfocused!;-) And as I did not want to get the guy who helped arrange this for me in trouble, I took out some paper and a pen making some notes here and there as if I had to write some report.

After watching his hour-long practice, I asked Pete for an autograph and got one. I held out a slip of paper, putting it on top of a book I was holding that time so he can have a support while signing. And as the piece of paper was bigger than the book, his hand slipped off a bit while writing and our hands touched for a millisecond -- thinking about that still gives me butterflies in my stomach! ;-)

I talked a few words with him but I was THAT nervous – I think it’s more appropriate to say that I was just stammering instead of talking! ;-) I mentioned my tapes (hundreds and hundreds of hours of his matches and interviews) and he smiled at that. Then I just stammered something about his incredible mental strength and he was a bit amazed about this.

At this time he was very stressed to get his 6th consecutive #1 spot at the end of the year and he looked very thin and fragile and a bit lost. I think he probably would have continued talking with me but Paul was signaling him to hurry up.

I thought that he was even more cute in person than on TV and I never looked into such black eyes before.

Recently it was announced that he will play again in Vienna this year (2000) – so maybe I'll get another opportunity to talk to him and to hold up the banner for Samprasfanz.

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