- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

The weather couldn't have been any less tennis-friendly for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic's kickoff gala Saturday night.
Although ominously dark skies brought plenty of precipitation, the torrential rains didn't dampen spirits at the Barbecue and Blues Bash at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on upper 16th Street NW.
The party, sponsored by the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation, attracted some of the sport's rising stars, along with local teens flourishing under the foundation's wing. (The WTEF, founded in 1955, aids about 1,500 children each year through tennis lessons, educational programs and community outreach.)
Part of the group's good will is carried out by players such as Rockville's Paul Goldstein, Mike and Bob Bryan, Murphy Jensen and Andy Roddick, who greeted fans while boogying to the Robert Byrd Blues Band.
The Bryan brothers stormed the stage for a few numbers along with Mr. Roddick, who rapped for the appreciative crowd of about 200.
Revelers also got the first peek at the tournament draws while feasting on Memphis-style barbecue, courtesy of Red Hot & Blue restaurants.
Mr. Goldstein, who took a gregarious turn at tending bar, said competing in a tournament such as the Legg Mason makes for some memorable matches.
"There's a lot of additional pressure," said Mr. Goldstein, who two years ago upset the tournament's No. 2 seeded player and defending champ, Alex Corretja, at the Legg Mason. "But there's nothing better than playing a competitive match and seeing people you grew up with in the stands," he said.
Mr. Goldstein recalled his first match against this year's top seed, Andre Agassi — "he beat up on me last year"— but remembered how the Wimbledon winner later took him under his wing.
"You've got a guy who's the best hitter in the world, but he doesn't rely on that," observed Mr. Goldstein, who broke his tennis diet by wolfing down a pork sandwich.
The WTEF brings a similar sense of balance to its game plan.

Rudner Eisenberg said her group "uses tennis as a vehicle to get kids interested in after-school activities."
Ms. Eisenberg said the organization began as a way to send promising young tennis players to tournaments, but its mission quickly expanded.
"There were so many kids who needed to be helped," added Ms. Eisenberg, who sported a wrist cast from a tennis injury suffered the day before.
She proudly pointed to players such as Mr. Goldstein who use their tennis acumen to help at-risk children and teens.
Mike Bryan said he doesn't mind the attention he and his twin brother attract on the tennis scene.
"It's fun to see a family out there. People can relate to it," said Mr. Bryan, who, along with his brother, is coached by his parents.
Though the twins spend little time apart, he admitted their relationship isn't always as smooth as his forehand.
"We're together all the time, and we fight about everything," he said, smiling, "but when we're on the tour, we work better."
Tennis and the WTEF had a similarly beneficial effect on 18-year-old Drew Thompson.
"It helped me with public speaking, reading and comprehension," said the lanky Reston resident, who will be attending Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., soon.
"In life, you need an outlet," Mr. Thompson said. "[Tennis] is a way to get your mind off of academics."

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