Growing up in Las Vegas, we've always had our celebrities. Many were performers who relocated to be close to the Las Vegas Strip where they had performance contracts. But, there are only two sports figures that are destined to be remembered decades from now. Future hall of fame baseball pitcher Greg Maddux is one. Tennis great Andre Agassi is another. I'm going to focus on Andre for a moment.
Andre's four-set loss on Sunday in the U.S. Open will have ripple effects throughout Las Vegas. I felt it myself. Growing up around tennis and playing in the local junior tennis tournaments does seem like a lifetime ago. Watching Agassi on the court saying a tearful goodbye brought a lot of the past back. You see, Andre was always playing in the age bracket just above mine. When I was in the 12's, he was in the 14's. I never played him but watched many of his early battles with the Entzel brothers and several of our other top juniors. I did get to play with him for awhile but that was when we were on the same basketball team. He was our deep threat hitting almost all of his 3-point shots. Even in a second sport, he was a competitor.
So as I look back on Andre's career from flashy colored shirts, jean shorts, long hair, bandana and yes the ever-popular shoes, I think about how he has changed the face of the sport. Tennis gets greater coverage due to the early media focus on the young-upstart Andre and was slowly able to bring an understanding of the skill and commitment it takes to be a great player. I think about how easy it was for me to put down the tennis racquet years ago and how much harder it will be for a man who has dedicated over 2 decades to being and beating the best in the sport. Thank you, Andre. And welcome to the next chapter of your life.