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Sampras Out of Carson Project

May 29, 2003|Bill Dwyre | Times Staff Writer

Pete Sampras, probably retired but uncertain about his next step, said Wednesday that he has pulled back from immediate involvement in the new tennis center at the Home Depot sports complex in Carson.

"Yes, it is true, I'm not doing it," Sampras said, referring to his long-projected role as namesake and frequent participant in what many in tennis and many involved with the Carson project had assumed would become the Pete Sampras Tennis Academy.

Sampras, last year's U.S. Open champion, who said recently that he would not play at Wimbledon next month, backed off last week, under consultation with his management agency, IMG, when it became time to formalize several years of discussions and plans with a contract.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, the developer of the Home Depot complex that will open Sunday with an international track meet and that will eventually house facilities for world-class competition in soccer, tennis, track and velodrome cycling, said in a statement:

"Part of the scope of the development of the Home Depot Center included the creation of a year-round tennis academy to provide tennis programs and instruction for players of all abilities and serve as a full-time training center for touring pros and players preparing to join the professional tour.

"During the initial stages of this development, AEG approached Pete Sampras to be a partner in the creation and operation of the academy. Based on a mutual agreement, Pete's overall participation called for him to immediately play an active role in the establishment of the academy and the overall day-to-day management of the facility and its programs.

" 'My enthusiasm for the project hasn't diminished, but I am not able to make the necessary time commitments for a facility that would have my name on it,' Sampras said. 'AEG and I have mutually decided not to formalize our agreement.'

"AEG will continue to develop a world-class tennis academy at the Home Depot Center and look forward to establishing a formal relationship with Pete Sampras in the future."

AEG had hoped to make the Sampras Academy a sort of West Coast answer to the highly successful Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida, where players such as Andre Agassi and Jim Courier began.

The first major event at the new 13,000-seat tennis stadium will be the JPMorgan Chase women's open Aug. 4-10. The event formerly was played at the Manhattan Tennis Club in Manhattan Beach.

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