WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Andy Roddick loves coming to Winston-Salem, and he’s looking forward to another great visit next week.
The former World No. 1 will participate in the PowerShares Legends Winston-Salem event that will be held Sunday, Aug. 21, helping kick off this year’s Winston-Salem Open with a bang.
It’s another chapter in his long association with Winston-Salem tennis, an association that started back in 1998 when he was a 16-year-old playing in the Flow Motors Invitational. He returned to lead the United States in three Davis Cup ties – 2001 against India, 2007 against Spain and 2008 against France. And then he participated in the first two Winston-Salem Opens in 2011 and 2012 before retiring after the 2012 US Open.
“It’s a city that’s been very important to my tennis career, obviously,” Roddick said in a teleconference Friday promoting this year’s Winston-Salem Open, which is scheduled for Aug. 20-27 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. “I have always enjoyed playing there, so I’m excited to be coming back. It’s nice to have another opportunity.”
Roddick will join James Blake, Jim Courier and Mark Philippoussis for an evening of fun and entertainment – and make no mistake, competition. There will be two one-set semifinal matches with the winners meeting in a one-set championship match.
The PowerShares Series is a “senior circuit” of sorts that holds events in 12 cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Roddick, who won 32 ATP World Tour singles titles in his career including the 2003 US Open, was the PowerShares points champion last year among group of tennis icons that also includes Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and John McEnroe. So clearly, he still takes his tennis seriously.
“First and foremost it’s just still the opportunity to play a little tennis,” Roddick said. “You can retire from pro tennis but you still want some kind of connection to the game you played since you were a kid. It’s still fun competing, and the chance over the last couple years to play Andre and Johnny Mac and Jim Courier, and then my contemporaries James and Mardy (Fish) and Flip (Philippoussis), you know, I never stopped enjoying going out and playing tennis.
“I like this format. We go out there knowing we’re never going to play our best tennis again, but we still like to get out and compete and hopefully provide a good show. We still want to win, and we still want to provide a high level of tennis. We like to prove to the crowd and prove to ourselves that we can still play at a high level.”
Roddick, of course, has been a great ambassador for Winston-Salem throughout his career. That was never more evident than after his first appearance in the 2011 Winston-Salem Open, when he raved about the Wake Forest Tennis Complex and the job that tournament director Bill Oakes and his staff did.
It’s noteworthy that after Roddick gave the WSO a thumbs-up and told other players about his experiences, the WSO drew three Top 10 players and 25 of the Top 50 in 2012. That’s almost unheard-of for an ATP World Tour 250 level event.
“It was important for me to spread the news about Winston-Salem,” Roddick said. “If people are willing to put on quality events, they deserve it. I had enough history in Winston-Salem and had seen the enthusiasm of not only the fans but sponsors, the media, I was glad to tell other players ‘It’s a great tournament, it’s worth your time.’ And one of the biggest things was there’s a ton of practice courts, so even if the tournament doesn’t go your way you can get ready for the US Open. You’re never going to have to look for a practice court.
“I think that is one of the untold stories of the Winston-Salem Open. Bill Oakes had the foresight to not only have a couple of courts playing big matches, but outside courts which allowed players the best possible preparation whether they’re still in the tournament or out of the tournament.”
Roddick had huge praise for Oakes.
“With Bill involved and the sponsors involved, I knew it was going to be a good show,” Roddick said. “But I think the players were really impressed that it was a well-run machine from the very first year. And that goes a long way with players. The week before the US Open, players don’t want to play an unorganized event, but that was never going to happen in Winston-Salem.”
Tickets to the Sunday night PowerShares Series event and all other sessions of the tournament are available by calling (336) 758-6409 or by visiting WinstonSalemOpen.com/Tickets.
For more information about the PowerShares Legends Winston-Salem event, click here