Holding serve at Target Center

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 4, 2011 - 5:14 AM

New Champions Tour brings Agassi, Courier, McEnroe, Chang to town.


Jim Courier

Photo: Felipe Dana, Associated Press

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Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and John McEnroe were part of the 1992 U.S. Davis Cup team that beat Sweden in the semifinals at Target Center on the way to a championship.

Nearly 20 years later, they will be back at that same venue -- albeit in a much different format, but still playing the sport they love.

Minneapolis was among the 12 stops announced Tuesday as part of the reformatted Champions Series circuit, which features a rotating cast of former top tennis players. The one-night Leeann Chin Challenge is Sept. 30, featuring Agassi, Courier, McEnroe and Michael Chang competing in one-set semifinals followed by a pro set (eight games) championship between the semifinal winners. Tickets start at $35 and will go on sale Monday at Target Center and via Ticketmaster.

Courier recalled that trip here two decades ago during a conference call Tuesday.

"Andre and I beat Pete [Sampras] and Mac 6-0 in a practice match. Our captain told us we needed to lose the next set to give them some confidence," Courier said. "It's going to be fun to be back in that building, and going to a place like Minneapolis which has historically supported tennis."

Much of the Champions Series is focused on areas such as the Twin Cities, a large market without an ATP or WTA event. Björn Borg, Pete Sampras and Mats Wilander are the others who will play in the various events in other cities.

"I look forward to going [to Minneapolis]. I think that's part of the benefit of this tour," Agassi said. "We get to target the areas that are underserved when it comes to professional tennis and give the young ones an opportunity to hopefully be inspired and motivated."

Courier said the events will be "from an entertainment standpoint, a lot like an NBA or hockey game. A lot of energy, music, use of Jumbotrons to keep people entertained between games. What we looked at is 'how can we make this a concise night of tennis ... in a fun atmosphere at the same time.'"

But don't expect the players to take things too lightly.

"We want to get out there and make it competitive," Agassi said. "But at the same time, we're at a different stage in our life, and we can appreciate these moments and one another."


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