Tennis legends close out at open
The main story at this year's U.S. Open tennis tournament was the retirement of Pete Sampras. But he was not the only one to retire from the sport. Jeff Tarango and Michael Chang joined him in finishing their careers at the tournament.
Tarango's career was not marked by winning but by his antics on the court. He will mostly be remembered for leaving a match at the 1995 Wimbledon where he got in the umpire's face because he believed the match was not called fairly. After the match Tarango's wife even got involved, slapping the umpire's face. The following year he was banned from Wimbledon.
Tarango was considered by many to be "a poor man's John McEnroe." Like McEnroe, Tarango had a fierce temper, but was unable to win any major tournament only to be ranked at the No. 42 spot.
Chang had an impact not only on but also off the court. Chang was the youngest Grand Slam Champion, winning the French Open at the age of 17. His highest ranking was No. 2 after losing to Pete Sampras in the 1996 U.S. Open final.
However, aging finally caught up to Chang. Unable to hustle to the ball as he used to, he left the game happy.
Off the court Chang changed the image of Asian Americans in the sporting world. Asian Americans were largely unrecognized until Chang jumped onto the tennis scene. He brought his fellow Asian Americans into mainstream sports for the first time. Without him who knows where Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Amy Chow would be. He was an inspiration to Asian Americans around the U.S.
Sampras ended his career on top, reaching the No. 1 spot several times. In his last tournament he defeated Andre Agassi in the finals of the 2002 U.S. Open, winning 14 Grand Slam titles, the most in the history of tennis.
Sampras let his career speak for itself, leaving the game when he wanted to and on top.
Chang suffered through this final year of his career and it was painful to watch after his glory years. Sampras did it right and stopped playing when he made history.
The careers of Tarango, Chang and Sampras have been different. Tarango is known as more of an embarrassment to the tennis world than a great tennis player. Chang had success back in the day, but finished his career on a down slope. And Sampras will always be America's sweetheart.
Chang and Sampras's careers intersected and Sampras was the man that held Chang from ever reaching the No. 1 ranking. Sampras left on top, beating his main rival Agassi, whom he has faced numerous times in his career.
Today Agassi is still competing at a high level and is the favorite to win. He will be the mentor for the future of U.S. Tennis in James Blake and Andy Roddick.
Blake had a great tournament and reached the third round before losing to second-seeded Roger Federer. Roddick won the U.S. Open title decisively, defeating Federer, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
Though the tennis world lost two greats in Chang and Sampras, and a fireball in Tarango, the future looks bright with many young players showing excellent talent.