- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 19, 2001

In future years, the Legg Mason Tennis Classic will stand as the tournament where Andy Roddick made his professional breakthrough and the tourney that Andre Agassi has won more than any other.
Today, Donald Dell is still chairman of the tournament he helped found 33 years ago, a tournament that stands as one of the finest of the ATP summer hardcourt season. Aside from attracting another strong player field this year led by Agassi, stuck on five titles after being upset by Sjeng Schalken last night the Legg Mason sold a record number of tickets for this year's tournament.
"Frankly, I think this is one of the very best dates on the summer circuit in America," said Dell, who also co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals, the governing body of men's tennis, with Jack Kramer in 1972.
The Legg Mason has thrived in part because it is held two weeks before the U.S. Open, so many players use the tournament to prepare for the final Grand Slam of the year. This is the third year the tournament has been held in the second week of August; previously, it had been held in the third week of July, two weeks after Wimbledon.
A Pilot Pen tournament had been held in New Haven, Conn., the second week of August, but when the tournament sold its sanction and moved the site to Kitzbuhel, Austria (the Generali Open), Dell and the Legg Mason jumped at the chance to grab the open tour date. They secured it, and this year, it no doubt helped attract first-time participants like Marcelo Rios and Greg Rusedski. Richard Krajicek and Pete Sampras also had entered to play before both pulled out with injuries.
Dell said Friday's Agassi-Rusedski match, a thriller won by Agassi 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, was one of the best tournament matches he has seen.
"It was an exciting moment," Dell said. "It creates a lot of buzz around the tournament to see these players at their absolute best."
At this year's tournament, both Agassi and defending champion Alex Corretja, among others, expressed their enjoyment in playing on the Stadium Court because of its intimate atmosphere. Dell explained the court level is sunken more than 30 feet below ground level, allowing for better acoustics and sight lines.
Dell, while pleased with how far the tournament has come, still aspires to make it better. He envisions adding accommodations, particularly more seats, to the grandstand court. He also wants to add a type of "dining and viewing area" behind the baseline on the second level of the stadium court that would also overlook the grandstand court.
"[Those plans] were cut out of the budget when we were building the stadium originally," said Dell, who served as the U.S. Davis Cup team captain in 1968 and 1969. "If we had a successful period or we got some money from the government, which we've never taken," then improvements could be made.
Not to be lost in all this is the benefiting organization of some of the tournament proceeds, the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation. The foundation, started in 1955, benefits at-risk children and those from low-income families through tennis and academic support.
"One thing people lose sight of, because it's a professional tournament," Dell said, "is a major portion of the profits go to the tennis foundation." The WTEF was named the 2000 United States Tennis Association "National Organization of the Year."
Unseeded duo in final
German David Prinosil and Czech Martin Damm, an unseeded doubles tandem, reached the final of the tournament yesterday with a 7-5, 7-5 defeat of Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, the Zimbabwean team seeded fourth.
They will face top-seeded Mike and Bob Bryan, 7-5, 6-4 winners against No. 3 seeded David Adams and Jeff Tarango. The doubles final will follow today's 4 p.m. singles match.
Power play
The hardest serve of the tournament after last night's match belonged to Andy Roddick, who unleashed a 136-mph blast against Paradorn Srichaphan in the second round. Greg Rusedski, who holds the ATP record at 149 mph, recorded a 134-mph serve this week.


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