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July 11 • 03:44
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Now it's my Turn

I spent a couple of hours with an old friend this week...

August 30, 2012 | 12:23 PM

It was a time of nostalgia, a lot of the good old days….but some bad ones as well….

You know him, you don't know me…..and that's okay with both of us.

He is younger than I am…a lot….but we share a great many of the same values…he is a Midwesterner…I am a Midwesterner…he has a temper (passion)…when I was younger I did too…now its has morphed into a quiet passion….he has solid values…I share many of those values….we both believe in giving back to those who need a helping hand, we both have a solid, realistic side that breaks through one-sided mirrors allowing us to make an honest appraisal…especially when it comes to who we are and what we believe in.

I know him well enough to know that when he was 5 years, he announced to his Mother that he no longer would be wearing any underwear to school…after a short panicky moment or two…she finally talked him into wearing his Speedo swimsuit … "going 'near' commando" didn't last too long…but it was an indication of the strength of character (stubbornness) that would drive him to not only become one of the best tennis players, but to also understand his responsibilities to reach out to new young players and act as their mentor, to offer a helping hand with his foundation to those who need someone to care.

Several years ago in an interview about why he had established his foundation at such an early stage in his career, he answered by recalling a conversation he had with Andre Agassi. "I asked Andre 'any regrets?', only one he responded, 'I didn't start my foundation early enough."

My old friend started his foundation several months later and continues his efforts to helping kids who need help.

He is a player…and I always enjoyed watching him play…never missed a chance. He always plays with the passion and drive to do his very best…knowing that sometimes best was not going to be enough.

I watched the epic battle in 2009 on the grass at Wimbledon. Never broken, playing his best, giving his all….and yet two errant backhands….two and they decided the five setter…he did not lose a service game and yet that day it was not enough. Sometimes the gods are just not fair…

I watched him lead the USA Davis Cup Team in winning the Cup in 2007 in Memorial Stadium in Portland, Oregon just as I had traveled in 2004 to Seville, Spain to watch a newcomer, Rafa, win the Cup. My friend led both Davis Cup Teams…and each time he did his best, played his hardest…won one didn't with the other. There were other Cup Ties, he has always said yes when asked, and each had a common thread for him, he was playing for his country and you just knew he would do his best.

Today he turns 30…so do I, well I am a year older but not 30…..I think he is ready to be recognized as a young man with an incredible future ahead in whatever field he selects

I watched his as a kid….as a brash young adult….in defeat and in victory ….and when all the dust has settled…you always know he is giving his all…he is an adult…still has a lot of passion…some temper…a lot of fire….but an adult..

Happy Birthday Andy…