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Pro Tennis Showcase
September 12, 1996

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World Team Tennis - 1996 Smash Hits
Houston, Texas - September 12, 1996
Photos by Cliff Kurtzman


All Tennis Server photography is copyrighted by the photographer and/or the Tennis Server, and all rights are reserved. You may not copy these images without permission. While you are welcome to create hyperlinks to Tennis Server web pages, you may not embed these images into other web pages or blogs without permission. To request permission, please use this contact form. Please be sure to clearly indicate exactly which photograph(s) you are requesting permission to use, as terms and conditions will vary depending on the photographer and the photograph.


On Thursday, September 12, 1996 the World TeamTennis Smash Hits event was held at the Houston Summit. The event raised over $300,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and all the players waived their appearance fees for the cause.

The event was televised in the United States on Saturday, December 21, 1996 at 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST on ABC.


Tennis - Pete Sampras - Elton John The Elton John AIDS Foundation provides funding for programs that provide services to people living with HIV/AIDS and educational programs targeted at AIDS prevention and/or elimination of prejudice and discrimination against HIV/AIDS affected individuals. For information about donations, write to P.O. Box 52066, Atlanta, GA 30355 or phone in the United States 310/535-1775.

Tennis - Andre Agassi

Photo and Video Archives
Andre Agassi
Pete Sampras
Monica Seles
Lindsay Davenport
Luke Jensen
Murphy Jensen
Elton John, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chanda Rubin, Natasha Zvereva


Report From Courtside

By Cliff Kurtzman

It is not often that I have a chance to share the tennis court with the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Monica Seles. Heck, I'd never seen any of them play in person before.

But share the court is just what we did at the World TeamTennis Smash Hits event at the Houston Summit.

They Had Racquets, I Had Cameras

It is hard to recall the last time so many of the world's top tennis players were assembled on a single tennis court. The annual World TeamTennis event pitted the "Philadelphia Freedoms" against the "Houston EZ Riders." The teams were as follows:

Houston EZ Riders

Billie Jean King (Capt.)
Pete Sampras
Lindsay Davenport
Natasha Zvereva
Murphy Jensen
Chanda Rubin (injured, did not play)

Philadelphia Freedoms

Elton John (Capt.)
Andre Agassi
Monica Seles
Martina Navratilova
Luke Jensen


The Tennis Server was given a press pass to sit at courtside to video, photograph and report on the event for the web. By at courtside, I don't mean in a seat next to the court -- I mean on the court right outside the doubles line between the net and the service line. A better vantage point could not be had. A special thank you for these arrangements goes to Tipp Nunn, who put together the event, and John Kennedy, who developed the World TeamTennis web site. Once I almost ended up with Pete Sampras in my lap as he chased a short ball, but other than that things went flawlessly.

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold

Prior to the event, a tennis auction and celebrity cocktail party was held for the AIDS Foundation. Notable items in the auction included a pair of Elton John's tennis shoes that sold for $6,000, a racquet that Pete Sampras had used to win the U.S. Open finals went for $9,000, and a trip for 2 from the U.S. to the Wimbledon men's and women's finals (Billie Jean King's box seats) went for $20,000.

Tennis - Luke Jensen

Let The Play Begin

A decent crowd of 9,017 was in attendance at the Summit for the match. The rules used in World TeamTennis are a bit different than played in standard tournaments. Each "match" is just a single set long. Scoring is no-ad. A 1 point tiebreaker is played if the score gets to 5-5, and let serves count as fair and can be returned by either player. Games won in each set (except for the celebrity doubles set) are added up to determine the winning team for the evening.

It was also quite clear that players were not approaching the match as they would a real tournament. There was a lot of horsing around and the players appeared to be having a good bit of fun with the format and festive atmosphere of the event.

Battle of the Earrings

The first match of the evening was a celebrity mixed doubles event pitting Elton John and Monica Seles against Andre Agassi and Billie Jean King. Elton John played quite well, though it was clear that the others on the court were definitely not hitting the ball as hard as they might... John and Seles ended up winning the set in a 1 point tie-breaker.

Hey Everybody, Its CLYDE DREXLER!

The next match was a men's doubles set between Agassi/Luke Jensen and Sampras/Murphy Jensen. The brother's Jensen generally hammed it up, with Luke (or was it Murphy?) going way up into the stands to hit one of his serve's, which ended up being an ace! (As I said, the rules are a bit different...) At one point Sampras stopped play and started shouting when he saw Houston Rockets basketball star Clyde Drexler in the stands. Tennis stars have their idols too...

Andre and Luke won the set 6-2.

Olympic Revenge

Next up was a Women's singles match in which Seles defeated Davenport, 6-4. The crowd tried to entice Seles to do a bit of her famous "grunt" during the match, and when she wouldn't do it, Agassi started grunting for her from the sidelines.

This set was followed by a women's doubles match in which Seles/Navratilova defeated Davenport/Zvereva, 6-3.

Dinner With Andre

Billed as the "match we didn't get to see at the U.S. Open," the next round was the Sampras vs. Agassi set. The duo was more into having fun than trying to win the set, but there was still some very impressive tennis played. When they wanted to, they hit and served incredibly hard, and your humble newsletter editor was quite pleased that they refrained from spinning their serves out wide into him and his camera.

I Won't Tell Brooke If You Won't

Tennis - Andre Agassi At one point during the set, a zealous and rather pretty young lady jumped from the stands onto the court and ran over to Agassi to give him a hug and have her picture taken. Agassi seemed quite pleased with the situation, but after she left the court the Summit security guards started escorting the lady from the stadium. Much to Andre's and the crowd's approval, Elton John went up into the stands to rescue the damsel in distress.

Sampras ended up defeating Agassi, 6-4.

Can Martina Say ACE!

The final set was the mixed doubles, where Agassi/Navratilova played Sampras/Zvereva. Sampras saved some of his fastest serves for Navratilova, who really did not seem to appreciate it as the balls whizzed by her. By the end of the set, however, she was getting a number of them back, and she and Agassi won the set 6-4.

Agassi tried to venture into the stands to try to sign a few autographs during the last set, but it quickly turned into mayhem and he had to rush back onto the court with some help from the security guards.

Final Score: The Philadelphia Freedoms defeated the Houston EZ Riders, 26 to 21.

The event was televised in the United States on Saturday, December 21, 1996 at 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST on ABC.

Additional information about World TeamTennis can be found at their web site:

http://www.worldteamtennis.com/

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