National Hispanic Heritage Month: When Charlie Pasarell gave Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras their first pro breaks


In the late 80s and throughout the 90s, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the top stars in tennis and formed one of the sports’ legendary rivalries.

What both had in common was they launched their pro careers at the BNP Paribas Open.

First, Agassi got his break thanks to a phone call from Pancho Gonzales. Pasarell, trusting his idol, gave Agassi the wildcard, sight unseen.

During that debut, Agassi would have to play No. 1 Mats Wilander. Pasarell gave Wilander some advice on how to play the teenager, which he totally disregarded.

Unlike Agassi, Pasarell got a chance to watch Sampras play. Sampras lost in a qualifier, but Pasarell liked what he saw, so he gave him a wildcard.

Sampras would go on to win two rounds in a impressive debut. Later that year, Sampras would turn pro.

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