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Close Encounter with Pete Sampras

Location: Commonwealth Bank International (Kooyong, Austria)
Date: January 2002

After having read everyone's accounts of their "encounters with Pete", I felt I had to add my bit. I've liked Pete since 1997 and saw him live for the first time at the Australian Open in 1998. I've also been trying to get his autograph for a considerable number of years but without luck.

I got my chance finally at the Commonwealth Bank International when he played Alex Corretja. At this particular tournament, which I've been to several times, it's really easy to stand by and watch the players go on court, because there's no tunnel they have to go through. When it was Pete's turn to go on, he came out flanked by security guards. I knew not to go for his autograph then as he doesn't sign before he plays a match. I did, however, lean over and pat him on the right shoulder! I thought to myself "this may be my lucky day". I've been close to him before, but never done that.

I decided to get bold and really go for his autograph. So with my "Legends in the Works" book and biro in hand, I watched Alex Corretja come out, sign a few autographs and then Pete emerge, signing a few. He was flanked by security guards again but they cleared a path for him and allowed him to do some signing. Well, he came right in my direction and I held out my book for him and he signed it. He actually bypassed quite a few other people to do this! I will never forget the sight of Pete walking towards me. He signed a few more autographs and turned around to go and I patted him on the back again, twice.

Talk about getting lucky. After all this time I have finally secured his autograph, now I'm a little bit bolder I'll try my luck at the Australian Open when he goes to the practice courts!




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