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Sampras: A Legend in the Works Hardcover – November, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
After the interregnum of spoiled bratism led by Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe and kept alive by their admirers, Californian Pete Sampras has restored sportsmanship and style to international tennis. As he puts it: "that's the way tennis should be played--with class." And while Sampras's polite, low-key manner has won him few friends in the media, many of whom would seem to prefer temper tantrums, he has accumulated an outstanding record: at 25, he has won seven grand-slam singles titles, placing him ninth on the all-time winners list. He recently won his fourth U.S. Open championship. But Tampa Tribune tennis writer Branham is somewhat stymied by the fact that Sampras is so young. His whole life has been devoted to the game from age nine, his parents are even more private than he and the major emotional trauma of his life was the death of his coach and friend, Tim Gullikson, earlier this year. Sampras has simply not been around long enough to provide fodder for a rich biography. Furthermore, he has not lived the typical American-celebrity lifestyle, and it shows here. One is left with the impression that the book is premature. Still, Branham's knowledge of tennis and of Sampras's career will appeal to court aficionados. Photos not seen by PW. 75,000 first printing; first serial to Tampa Tribune; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
"H.A. Branham is the tennis correspondent for the Tampa (FL) Tribune and he has been a sportswriter since 1980. In 1995 he received the USTA Florida Section’s ‘Jim Martz Award for Media Excellence’ for his coverage of Florida tennis. He is the regional vice-president of the United States Tennis Writers Association. Branham lives in Bradenton, Florida, with his wife Catherine and four children. Bud Collins, is a sports columnist for the Boston Globe and a tennis commentator for NBC. He was a sports commentator for PBS from 1963 to 1988, and has at various times analysed tennis for CBS, ESPN, USA, CBN, MSG, and HBO. " --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Sampras is too full of character to withstand the beratement he receives from a press-gone-crazy world who rather likes flash and glitter and controversy and rebellious character. Pete is solid, off both sides of the groundies and of course the serve and volley.
What an outstanding young person whom other hopeful racket swinging youth can emulate --- the guy isn't about show but go. Especially his love of the Rocket and the inheritance those guys gave and their sacrifice is neat. I grew up with the Chuck McKinley/Dennis Ralston era.
The book traces his record in the Majors, with the underlying background to the big matches and Pete's life. Influenced greatly by his first coach, a pediatrician. Later, with one whom he truly bonded was taken suddenly. What endurance and character.
This guy deserves his high spot in tennis annals. Great read. Thanks Branham.
It's always interesting to read a story like this with the benefit of knowing the outcome. Since Pete's retirement from the ATP tour other playing forces have emerged to challenge his on-court accomplishments and perhaps eclipse them. Ironically, as I write this Tennis magazine just released its 50th Anniversary issue. There's a draw section that pits past and present players from a fictional round-of-16 to the finals. Editors have Pete meeting and beating Roger Federer in the men's final 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
If author H.A. Branham were a baseball aficionado I would imagine him deep in the statistical weeds. This is perhaps the only personal drawback for me as a reader. I've read other bios that included more story-telling. However, as Pete was not necessarily involved in the writing of this book - otherwise it may have been an autobiography - I'll default here to the author's prerogative. I simply found the statistical details less compelling as a reader. Nevertheless, one cannot argue their importance.
I particularly found some of the back story engaging as it related to his S. California roots, on-court rivalries over the years with players such as Michael Chang, Jim Courier and of course Andre Agassi. The impact on Pete of the illness and passing of his coach Tim Gullikson is explored in detail. I would have enjoyed reading more information on Pete as a person and his thoughts as he rose to become one of the greatest players of the game of tennis. Let's hope for an autobiography.