This past September, under sunny fall skies, two tennis legends graced the Har-Tru* tennis courts of The Greenbrier for a sold out exhibition match. John McEnroe and Pete Sampras became the inaugural contestants in The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic, an event that hopes to become an annual staple at the tail end of summer.
The one-day event featured two of the sports greatest living stars, who together hold 21 career Grand Slam men’s single titles. McEnroe and Sampras participated in pro-ams and VIP events throughout the day as well.
The match kicked off with entertaining entrances by the tennis Hall of Famers, with McEnroe walking on the court to the song, “Johnny Be Good,” and Sampras following to the tune of “Born in the USA.” At one point during the match, McEnroe took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd, to the delight of a female spectator who caught it and clutched it to her chest. Sampras, in turn, removed his wristbands, throwing them into the crowd as souvenirs of the exhibition match.
After losing the first set to McEnroe, Sampras took the second set and went on to best McEnroe in a close 10-8 tiebreaker finish. The match’s setting in the intimate Tennis Club at The Greenbrier allowed for friendly interaction between the players, umpire, linesmen, and the crowd-with McEnroe displaying some of his trademark courtside banter, at one point saying, “Hey umpire, the ball was out; even I saw it was out!” in reference to his own ball. “Whenever I play John, I see fear in the eyes of the umpire,” quipped Sampras.
“It’s nice to see The Greenbrier bring tennis to the forefront,” said McEnroe. “The crowd was really nice… and guys like Pete come around once every 20 years.”
*Did you know the first Har-Tru tennis court debuted in 1932 in Hagerstown, MD? The company’s proprietary court surface, while often referred to as clay, is actually made up of crushed stone. The surface has a number of advantages, including reduced injuries and resistance to cracking. The Greenbrier Sporting Club is proud to offer its Har-Tru tennis courts to members.