Sometimes I arrive a little late to the game.
Way back in the day, my 9th grade biology teacher took a liking to me and told me I was joining the tennis team. You see, she was also the school's tennis coach. I'd barely picked up a racket in my life but, for some reason, I did it. And I am SO GLAD. From that first season, I played tennis for a couple of hours a day for a good part of the year. I recall those years, before cell phones, when my friends would drive over to the school courts if they were looking for me. It was their best chance of success. I became friends with other tennis players and we'd hang out there all day hitting balls. Even my friends who didn't play could often be found hanging out at the courts. Still to this day, I consider it a big part of who I am. Even though I don't play anymore.
You could probably guess that, during that time, I became very familiar with the pro tennis circuit and I loved watching matches on TV. Although I consider Lendl my all-time favorite, I was also a big Andre Agassi fan.
Do you remember when Andre's autobiography, Open, was released last year? Yes, me too. I read review after review after review about it. They were all glowing. I don't know what happened but all this time has gone by and I never got around to reading the book. Well, at the library on Monday, I passed by a copy on a shelf and I was SO THRILLED. I'd totally forgotten about it. You best believe I checked it out so fast I almost gave myself whiplash.
I must confess that I'm only about halfway through but I couldn't wait to tell you that this book is RIVETING. Andre is so honest and, well, open, about his life. It's really not what I was expecting to learn about the tennis circuit and other players. Mainly, it's not what I was expecting to learn about Andre, the person. I didn't know it was possible but I now like him even more. I look at the photos of his highlights, the long hair, the denim shorts and the earrings and it really takes me back. I have such fond memories. I look forward to having free time to read because his story is just that good.
If you're an Andre fan or just a big tennis fan, I highly recommend this book to you. It's very entertaining and you won't want to put it down.
To all you Andre fans out there, do you remember how he was so particular about his tennis bag? He had to pack it himself, he always had that huge stack of rackets and no one else was allowed to carry it? It was his thing. Early on in the book, he had this to say:
"The tennis bag is a lot like your heart ~ you have to know what's in it at all times".
Well said, Andre, well said.
(Wait, how did that middle photo get in there?)
Images own & BBC Sport