Andre Agassi tells TENNIS Magazine, "I don't feel like a tennis player anymore"
April issue's 13-page Gear Guide highlights must-haves for tennis players
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03/12/08 - Almost two years after leaving the sport, tennis icon Andre Agassi has found new challenges as a father and businessman, and admits while he still loves the game, “I don’t feel like a tennis player anymore.” He tells Peter Bodo in an exclusive interview in the April issue of TENNIS Magazine, “When I dig out my racquets because I’ve donated a lesson for charity or something, I’ll look at them and say, ‘Wow, this is what I used to do for a living.’”
Although he did say he still watches a lot of tennis. “We don’t have the television on in the house unless we’re watching something specific, but during the Australian Open, I had it on all the time, tuned to Tennis Channel.”
Interviewed in an empty classroom of the eponymous College Preparatory Academy, the school he founded in Las Vegas to help disadvantaged children, Agassi talks in depth about his life after retirement, his children (with wife Steffi Graf), Roger Federer, drug testing and gambling in tennis as well as his latest sporting adventure -- snowboarding.
His Kids – A Future in Tennis?
Asked about how he enjoys playing tennis with his kids, son Jaden, 6, and daughter, Jaz Elle, 4, Agassi told TENNIS Magazine, “Jaz has a longer attention span than Jaden. It’s funny, she looks more like me and acts more like Steffi. Jaden looks like Steff, but he acts more like me. It’s a handful, but that’s part of the fun. When it comes to tennis, I wouldn’t want to interfere or decide for them. I’d be reluctant to put them in an environment where I understood the road ahead and the pitfalls so intimately. That would remove my ability to enjoy and embrace their journey. That’s the root of the only hesitancy I have about tennis.”
A Typical Parent?
As far as being a “typical” parent, Agassi said, “The kids go to school in the neighborhood, so it doesn’t take long to get them there. Then I’ll go and work out and spend the day taking care of business. I often end up waiting in the carpool line at 3 o’clock with everyone else.”
From Tennis to Snowboarding
“When I retired, I thought, What is it I want to try after spending 32 years not being able to jump off a diving board because I might derail the game plan? Keeping myself healthy and free of injury was always an issue, even when I was doing everything right.” Agassi discovered the sport of snowboarding while in Tamarack (Agassi and Graf are partners in a condo-hotel at the Tamarack Resort in Central Idaho) with the kids. “I decided I would ski or snowboard, and snowboarding just looked like more fun.”
On Roger Federer
“When Fed hits the forehand up the line, that’s a shot that used to be a risk for me. And it’s an absolute meat-and-potatoes shot for him. That’s a function of the athlete, of his speed and positioning, and his equipment. What I haven’t figured out about Fed is how much of an anomaly he is…The question is, can you teach what Fed does? The only thing I know for sure is that he’s making the game better.”
Commentating Debut at Last Year’s US Open
When asked by TENNIS magazine if he enjoyed his well-received commentating debut at the 2007 US Open, Agassi said, “I love to talk about tennis…I also felt last year that I wanted to go back to the Open to pay my respects. The tournament and the fans there gave me so much over 20, 21 years that I felt like I had to go back. But commentary didn’t seem like a platform where you can really peel back the layers. There’s just not enough time to do that. I did enjoy the challenge of trying to get in what might be relevant under those constraints, and like most things, I didn’t feel like I did as well as I might have.”
Drugs and Gambling in Tennis
“When it comes to drug testing, I’ll hold tennis up to any sport in the world.” Agassi said.
“I find myself focusing the most on what our sport is doing to make sure that if you’re cheating, you’ll get caught. And that’s where I take refuge. I believe our sport is on the leading edge, pioneering ways to hold players accountable,” Agassi told TENNIS Magazine. “Even when I was playing, I was drug tested one year something like 20 times, and I didn’t play as much as many others. If you cheat, it’s not a matter of if you get caught, but when you get caught.” As far as gambling is concerned, he said, “In my years playing, I never saw it or heard of it. And I would hate to see the actions of a few tarnish the sport. I support a zero-tolerance policy on this issue.”
2008 GEAR GUIDE
Still swinging the same old frame or dragging those ancient shoes around the court? Following months of testing, TENNIS Magazine helps readers navigate the world of new equipment in a comprehensive 13-page Gear Guide that is filled with dozens of reviews for the latest racquets, shoes, strings and accessories such as hats, sunglasses and bags.
HOW TO AVOID PURCHASING COUNTERFEIT RACQUETS
In recent years, counterfeiters have been peddling counterfeit tennis racquet frames to unsuspecting buyers, offering popular models at cheaper prices to appeal to bargain seekers, according to a report in the April issue of TENNIS Magazine. The best way to avoid purchasing a fake is to shop at an authorized online dealer. And when purchasing from auction sites, Jon Muir, general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, warns, be especially weary of products originating in Southeast Asia. To save a few bucks on a new model, Greg Mason, senior director of sales for Head/Penn Racquet Sports, warns, “Make sure you pay attention to all the details, since most counterfeit jobs are little more than a paint job. For example, look at the rubber band at the top of the grip. Most counterfeiters don’t go to the trouble of molding the company logo onto the rubber.” But even if the cosmetics are spot on, it’s the performance that counts and there’s little benefit in buying a fake.
About Miller Publishing Group: MPG publishes TENNIS Magazine and SMASH. Magazine. TENNIS, published 10 times annually, is the world’s largest tennis title, with a circulation of more than 600,000. MPG also owns TENNIS.com, the world’s leading tennis website, plus SMASHtennis.com and the blog Peter Bodo’s TennisWorld (peterbodostennisworld.com).