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Thu, Sept. 19

Agassi, Federer<BR>Meet; Kick Off<BR>Tourney Sunday

After watching the Agassi-Johansson match, with Johansson setting a record 59 aces hit in one match, not to mention a total of 96 outright winners, and yet still losing to the cool and composed old man of the game in four close sets, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Andre tried to return from the baseline, 10 feet deeper and then different places in between, but in general to no avail.

His reply to the aces was only 13 unforced errors, 35 winners and in better shape than he's ever been.

The quarterfinals between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer should be a great match. A classic like the old days when Sampras was still dishing it out, only Roger has that much more of a rounded out game.

Serena and Venus Williams are currently still in contention. (I'm writing this Sunday evening.) Serena wasn't happy with her play against Petrova, but she prevailed in three sets and will now see how she fairs against last year's Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.

During her match against Petrova, Serena took off part of the outfit she designed and began playing better. Not sure what that was all about, but maybe she should concentrate on playing more and not being such a total fashion queen while on the court and readying to play in majors.

Lleyton Hewitt had a little controversy during his match against Juan Chela. Guess his opponent didn't like the verbal display that Hewitt goes to when he gets pumped up, and on the next change-over spit in Hewitt's direction, then in the next game tried to nail him with a shot.

Chela was levied a $2,000 fine and at the end of the match apologized to Lleyton for his behavior. (Some of the things we unfortunately do when under more pressure than normal.)

The last week of play should be really terrific, so regulate your sleeping hours as best as you can to watch the tube into the wee hours of the morning ... ZZzzZzzzz.

"Our Friend Rick Benson Passes On Way Too Soon"

Our heart really goes out to June Benson and her family. Her husband and our tennis friend, Rick Benson, passed on this past week. He had a relatively quick bout with cancer and it was just too far along to treat.

I and many others not only admired the person that Rick was, his personable demeanor, caring nature, humor, not to mention his love for the game of tennis, but also the way he handled things after he found out he was sick.

Rick, if you can read this, "You had a great first serve, even if it did only land in once every service game! Save us all a spot on your team, we'll get there soon enough."

"PATA Meeting Saturday, Jan. 29, noon at RRTC"

The Prescott Area Tennis Association will meet at the tennis shed at the Roughrider Tennis Center (Yavapai College) this coming Saturday, Jan. 29 at noon for a special meeting to set up this year's new board and plan the 2005 season.

All PATA members are welcome as well as all interested tennis players from the area.

"Two One-Day Tourneys this Weekend"

If you want to get some tennis in, this next weekend is the time to jump in. There are two one-day tournaments here in Prescott, on both Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th.

PRC Grand Prix Singles-Jan. 29, call 778-0708 and The "New Year A-B-C Doubles" Jan. 30 at Yavapai College from noon-4 p.m. Call 445-1331 to enter.

"Good Friend To Tennis Dies"

When I was the Tennis and Sports Director at the La Posada Resort in Paradise Valley in the early 80's, I was in the pro shop and took a call and it went something like this; "I'd like to get some tennis lessons for the next week or so." Your name please.

"Johnny Carson." The Johnny Carson? "Yes, the one and only."

After watching the Tonight Show for who knows how many years, the voice was undeniable.

Working with celebrities in the resort business was not unusual. Many were more than aloof, or thought so highly of themselves, that for you to be in their presence was your reward here on earth. But Johnny Carson was just the opposite. Down to earth and likeable, he was just like he was on TV.

After his lessons, he'd quite often just come into the pro shop, grab a drink and sit and make small talk with whomever was there. No pretense, just one of the guys. He was in the Phoenix area because his mother was ill and she lived in the Camelback Mountain area.

He loved the game of tennis and was a pretty good player. Each year you'd find him at the U.S. Open watching his favorite players.

(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or

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