The Great American Insurance Ad (1999)
1998 marked the sixth consecutive year that Pete Sampras finished the year
as the no. 1 ranked tennis player in the world. But the importance of this
record breaking feat was ignored by most of the media. While Pete was in
Europe for several weeks chasing the no. 1 ranking, only one member of the
American press was covering the historic moment.
The significance was not lost on the Samprasfanz though. In the first quarter
of 1999, the group banded together and decided to place an ad in the Great
American Insurance (GAI) program to congratulate Pete for all of his outstanding
Pete has been a continuous source of inspiration for his fans around the
world. His awesome talent, sportsmanship and dedication to the game draw
constant admiration from the fans. It was time for the group to show their
appreciation to Pete and congratulate him for his outstanding achievements..
As an added bonus, the profit for the advertisement benefitted the Tennis
for Charity organization that supports the pediatric cancer care center
of the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Special thanks to Vince Barr who organized the GAI advertisement.
The Contents of the Great American Insurance Ad (1999)
- winning his sixth Wimbledon title, the most of any
male player in the Open Era
- being chosen as the best male tennis player of the
last 25 years.
tying Ivan Lendl's record for career
weeks ranked #1 (270 and counting)
- breaking Jimmy Conners' record of five consecutive
years ended ranked #1
- tying Roy Emerson's record of 12 Open-era men's Grand
Slam singles title
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Getting the ad autographed by Pete Sampras
Vince Barr, who organized the Sampras advertisement thought it would be
a neat idea if Pete sign 25 copies of the program for the people who contributed
funds for the advertisement.
"Once I collected all the programs for Pete to sign, I put them in
a Prince racquet bag so it would be easy to carry around... The bag weighed
at least 50 lbs." wrote Vince in his email to the group. "Watching
him 6 of the last 7 years, I knew that the only way to get him to sign was
to go to a practice."
As soon as Pete's coach, Paul Annacone stepped into the practice courts,
Vince approached him with a copy of the ad in hand. After explaining what
the ad was about, Vince requested Paul to ask Pete to autograph 25 copies.
Joy Parker and Aletha Karl who were also at the tournament reported that
when Vince told Paul "25 autographs", the latter looked up to
the heavens and mumbled "25 autographs?"
Joy wrote, "It was a sight for sore eyes. I started laughing. He looked
By then, Pete was also on the court and standing close to Vince. Being
the assertive and determined guy that he is, Vince talked directly to Pete
about the ad and the autograph.
Pete replied, "No problem."
"He told me to give the programs to Paul who handles all his public
relations at tournaments. I also told Pete that the group had a birthday
card for him and it was in the bag with the programs." Vince added
"After practice, I met Paul while everyone else was focused on Pete
and gave the bag which was fairly heavy. I offered to carry it as far as
the locker room but Paul took the bag and carried it himself."
The next day at practice Vince, Joy and Aletha thanked Pete for signing
the programs. Pete likewise thanked them for the birthday card.
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