Andre Agassi won his first tournament at La Quinta, CA, at age 16, Wimbledon at age 22, the US Open at age 24, Australian Open at age 25, earning him the no.1 in the world ranking the same year. Olympic Gold medal at age 26.Then the downslide started, fueled by an enormous number of personal problems, and he ended up at no. 140 he was ready to throw the towel. In 1998 Gil Reyes took him under his wings and his rigorous conditioning program made him climb up the rankings ladder again. The Grand Slams champion went on the Challenger circuit again and won the $50,000 Challenger at the Burbank Tennis Center the same year. The rest is history. Agassi’s road back on top is one of the most phenomenal comebacks in the history of the sport of tennis. US Open and French Open at age 29, three Australian Opens followed. During that time Agassi was very successful in Los Angeles, winning the LA Open (now Farmers Classic presented by Mercedes Benz) in 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2005. Agassi will be presented the highest honor in the sport of tennis this weekend, induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Agassi is the sole inductee in the Recent Player category. In the Contributor Category, Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer will be inducted. Kellmeyer is a tennis industry executive who was hired as the very first employee of the WTA Tour in 1973 and is still dedicated to the growth and development of the sport today.
During the pre-induction press conference, Agassi was obviously the center of attention, and Kellmeyer gratefully accepted the occasional question, like what she is currently involved in. Kellmeyer replied that she has started Alumni reunions for the International Tennis Hall of Fame all around the world, like in London, Melbourne, and Indian Wells. “Tennis is our history and the Hall of Fame is the guardian of that history. Women’s tennis has to stay as the number 1 professional sport for women, and that is my passion in life.”
A very composed and emotional Agassi was asked about his biggest moments in his career and he pointed out two. First his 1999 win in Paris at the French Open, after slumping to #140 in the world. “Winning in Paris was my biggest tennis accomplishment, for sure.” His second biggest moment was saying good-bye to a crowd of 23,000 at the US Open in New York in 2006. The crowd gave him an 8 minute standing ovation and the emotional challenge was quite visually overbearing.
After the final photo with Agassi, Kellmeyer, and Hall Of Fame’s Chris Clouser, Agassi turned to Peachy and whispered “Twenty-five years ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be hanging out with someone named Peachy…”
The Induction Ceremony will feature speeches by the inductees, as well as presentation speeches by people they have selected. Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, will give Kellmeyer’s presentation speech. Agassi’s presenter will be revealed at the event.
The Induction Ceremony will be attended by special guests of the inductees, including Agassi’s coaches and trainer from throughout his career, other Hall of Famers and tennis legends, and more than 3,500 enthusiastic fans. Tickets for the ceremony are now sold out, but a limited number of tickets are available for a live simulcast, which will be shown on a giant, stage-sized screen in the newly restored, air-conditioned Casino Theatre at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The simulcast festivities will kick off with never-before-seen tribute videos, compiled from footage of great career moments and messages of congratulations from colleagues and friends. Following the ceremony, Agassi and Kellmeyer will visit with the audience for their first interviews after induction. Tickets for this event are $75 and may be purchased on tennisfame.com or by calling 401-849-6053.
Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has honored 220 people representing 19 countries, inclusive of the Class of 2011. The International Tennis Hall of Fame features a comprehensive tennis Museum that commemorates the greatest champions and contributors of the sport and chronicles the history of tennis from its 12th century beginnings through present day. Special exhibits paying tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 have recently been installed and will be showcased for one year.
About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 218 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.
ABOUT THE FARMERS CLASSIC PRESENTED BY MERCEDES-BENZ
The Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, has been played every year since 1927, making it the longest-running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles. Played since 1984 at the LA Tennis Center on the campus of UCLA, the tournament is part of the Olympus US Open Series, the six-week summer tennis season linking 10 ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour events to the US Open, culminating each week with back-to-back men’s and womens finals every Sunday afternoon. Players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. Proceeds from the Farmers Classic Presented by Mercedes-Benz benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. The SCTA offers programs, leagues, and tournaments involving 300,000 juniors and 50,000 adults and seniors. Information on tickets and the tournament can be found at www.FarmersClassic.com or by calling 310-824-1010.
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