Pete Sampras: Tennis Champ

Pete Sampras the best tennis player of all time, and his record speaks for itself. He expects to win every match he plays, period.

Pete Sampras doesn't have to be loud, outspoken, or talk trash to get attenion. His fans appreciate his smooth, calm manner, and the way he takes his defeats, and more importantly, his victories, in stride. He has had an amazing twelve years on the circuit and even John McEnroe has to admit that he seems to have at least a few more years left in him. Since winning the U.S. Open in 1990 at the age of nineteen, he has gone on to win 12 more Grand Slam titles. He has smashed several records during his career; this year's Wimbledon victory gave him the 13th Grand Slam title needed to surpass Roy Emerson's all-time high of twelve. Sampras was ranked #1 in the world for six consecutive years, from 1993-1998, and his incredible career boasts a 687-184 win/loss record!

Pete Sampras has proven to be a dependable player for those who have rooted for him since he came into the limelight ten years ago. We have no doubt he can win any match he sets out to win; his record speaks for itself. Out of the seven times he reached the Wimbledon finals, he won all of them. Pete Sampras is arguably the best tennis player of all time and undoubtedly the best of this era. He came from a time in tennis when greats such as Jimmy Conners, Bjorn Borg, and John McEnroe dominated the tennis scene. Because of the stiff competition he faced from those great players, he is a better competitor today. One of the only other great players left from that time is Andre Agassi, but even he can't boast of a record as great as Pete's. At the age of 29, Sampras is now considered an old geezer in the pro tennis world, but his opponents still get intimidated by his court presence. His strokes are powerful and the determination to win can be seen in his eyes.

When people are asked which tennis player stands out most in their minds, John McEnroe is often the answer you will hear. But when they are asked why they chose him, the answer is not because of his playing ability, but his outspoken manner and attention-getting antics. Anyone who has seen Sampras play knows he always remains calm, never throws a racket, rants like a crazed man, or does anything just to play to the crowd. He has been accused of not showing enough emotion on the court or playing to the crowd, but true Sampras fans understand that is his style and that his record should speak for itself. In the December 1997 edition of TENNIS magazine, he commented on this fact himself, saying, "I expect to win every match I play, period. I don't really care what the experts or analysts or media say, not because I don't respect their opinions, but because I kind of have what I want. You can say I'm boring or whatever, but the titles are there. I never wanted to be the great guy or the colorful guy or the interesting guy. I wanted to be the guy who won the titles."

The past ten years of his life have been marked with many ups and downs. He has had success doing something he loves, which is more than anyone could ask for, but his personal life has been marked with sorrow. Tim Gullikson, his coach whom he had a very close relationship with, died in May 1996 from brain cancer. Pete set his anguish aside and put on a determined face for his dying coach, giving him the boost he needed to feel better in his final days. Dealing with the pain of losing a loved one in the public eye is difficult for anyone, so it is even more commendable in a person as shy as Pete Sampras. In addition to Gullikson's death, his former childhood coach, Pete Fisher, was jailed in 1998 on charges of child molestation.

Pete Sampras deserves the title of "Best Tennis Player of All Time" mainly for his playing prowess. But take a look at other aspects of his life, and you will surely be convinced that he is by far the best choice for this honor. He is the perfect example of what every athlete should strive to be.

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