Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hall of Famers, Blake to play in Sacramento

Pete Sampras rips a backhand in an exhibition
against Michael Chang during last year's
Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   They combined for 25 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jim Courier will play in Sacramento during the 2014 PowerShares Series, organizers announced today.
   The International Tennis Hall of Famers and fellow American James Blake will compete in two one-set semifinals, followed by a one-set final, on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena. The matchups have not been set.
   The 12-city U.S. circuit will begin Feb. 5 in Kansas City, Mo., and end March 21 in Surprise, Ariz. Other part-time competitors will be Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Mark Philippoussis and Andy Roddick. 
   Roddick and Blake -- who retired from the ATP World Tour after the U.S. Open in 2012 and this year, respectively -- will debut in the PowerShares Series.
   Sampras, 42, used his devastating serve-and-volley game to win 14 Grand Slam singles titles, second behind Roger Federer with 17, and held the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record six consecutive years.
   McEnroe, a 54-year-old left-hander, won 17 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, nine in doubles and one in mixed doubles) with his tremendous touch. His volatile temper, however, often overshadowed his sublime play.
Commentator Jim Courier interviews Roger Federer
during last year's Australian Open.
   Courier, an exceptionally hard worker, won four Grand Slam singles crowns (two at the Australian Open and two in the French Open) and reached the final of all four majors. Now 43, he has served as the captain (coach) of the United States Davis Cup team since 2010.
   McEnroe and Courier, like Sampras, ascended to No. 1 in the world.
   Blake, 33, climbed to a career-high No. 4 in 2006 with his speed and power but never advanced past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. He came close in 2005, losing a fifth-set tiebreaker to Agassi in one of the greatest matches in U.S. Open history.
   McEnroe holds U.S. Davis Cup records for total victories (59) and singles wins (41). He played on five Davis Cup championship teams, Sampras and Courier two each and Blake one.   
   Sampras and McEnroe have played World TeamTennis in Sacramento on visiting teams. Blake advanced to the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2011 and won the title in 2012. It is believed that Courier will play in Sacramento for the first time.
   Tickets for the Feb. 26 event went on sale today for USTA members at a 15 percent discount. Tickets starting at $25 and VIP fan experience packages will be available to the general public beginning next Tuesday. For more information, visit www.powersharesseries.com.         

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