In A Champion's Mind, the tennis great who so often exhibited visible discomfort with letting people "inside his head" finally opens up. An athletic prodigy, Pete resolved from his earliest playing days never to let anything get in the way of his love for the game. But while this single-minded determination led to tennis domination, success didn't come without a price. The constant pressure of competing on the world's biggest stage - in the unblinking eye of a media machine hungry for more than mere athletic greatness - took its toll.
Here, for the first time, Pete speaks freely about what it was like to possess what he calls "the Gift." He writes about the personal trials he faced - including the death of a longtime coach and confidant - and the struggles he gutted his way through while being seemingly on top of the world.
Among the book's most riveting scenes are an early devastating loss to Stefan Edberg that led Pete to make a monastic commitment to delivering on his natural talent; a grueling, four-hour-plus match against Alex Corretja during which Pete became seriously ill; fierce on-court battles with rival and friend Andre Agassi; and the triumphant last match of Pete's career at the finals of the 2002 U.S. Open.
In A Champion's Mind, one of the most revered, successful, and intensely private players in the history of tennis offers an intimate look at the life of an elite athlete.
©2008 Pete Sampras; (P)2008 Books on Tape
"A thoroughly compelling read that - apart from retracing a gilded sport career - really probes the 'hard drive' of a champion." (Jon Wertheim, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated)
"Whether championships are in your past or just live in your dreams, you'll learn a lot from Pete's story." (Monica Seles)
A Champion's Mind is a fairly interesting book filled with bits and pieces of this champion's career. But in the end, you don't learn very much about Pete Samphras beyond what you probably already know or could have assumed.
He certainly provides some insight into his focus, his dedication, and his selfishness, which is evidently an important quality for a sports champion. He comes off pretty self absorbed, which is no surprise. He offers little information, beyond generalities, about how he got so good, other than to say he did little else but tennis in high school. He does call what he has, "the gift," but what exactly that is -- hand-eye coordination, focus, dedication, a combination -- he doesn't say. But, would he have been a great basketball player or baseball player, or was it something specifically about tennis that he was gifted to do? He doesn't help us understand this gift.
He offers little thanks to those who helped him along the way, and he provides a few rather strange details about his life on tour with his wife.
The focus on success and Samprass' disciplined mind (as opposed to those who throw tantrums). As some people say, surround yourself with greatness -- but if a great tennis player or other person (like Steve Jobs) cannot be in your circle of friends, pick his brain by reading his book.
Mark did a good job, I think, of reading the spirit of the words. Some readers don't seem to capture that.
Too much tennis for me, but I'm not a tennis player -- and tennis is what it's about. So I was not interested in some parts of it. But, still, a book worth a listen for the insights Samprass has into his greatness and the stories about his struggles and successes.
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