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 achievements.

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)

Congratulations for :

Join the Pete Sampras Internet Fan Club

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 so funny."

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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