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Sampras on the Threshold

August 17, 1989

MASON, Ohio - Pete Sampras' name isn't always included in stories about top U.S. teenage pros. Sampras, 18, of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., believes it soon will be.

''It's going to take me longer to develop playing my style (serve-and-volley), than it did for Andre (Agassi), Michael (Chang) and Jim(Courier),'' Sampras said. ''They're strong baseliners. It's a lot tougher to learn and feel comfortable playing the way I do.''

Sampras advanced to the third round of the ATP Championship Wednesday, beating Andrei Olhovskiy of the Soviet Union 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. He won five consecutive games in the third set after trailing 0-2.

''My intensity level was up and down,'' he said.

Courier and Sampras, the No. 4-seeded doubles team at the ATP Championship, quickly have become one of the world's top doubles teams. Courier believes Sampras, No. 94 in the world, soon will have the consistency that will make him a top singles player, too.

''He's got more talent in his body than any of us (referring to himself, Agassi and Chang),'' Courier said. ''He's such a genius with the ball sometimes. He hasn't figured out how to still win when he's playing badly, but that'll come around.''

Developing a friendship with Ivan Lendl, No. 1 in the world, afforded him a glimpse of the pro tour from a different perspective. Sampras spent a week practicing with Lendl at Lendl's Greenwich, Conn., home during last year's Nabisco Masters in New York.

''It was interesting to see his diet and how Ivan prepared each day during a big event,'' Sampras said. ''He was telling me what to do and I realized what you had to do to be No. 1.''

Sampras, a semifinalist at the USTA Boys 18 Hardcourts in 1987, turned pro last year after defeating Ramesh Krishnan and Eliot Teltscher at Indian Wells, Calif.

''They were top 30 at the time so I felt I was ready to make the switch to the pros,'' Sampras said.

Copyright 1989 The Washington Post


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