Thursday, May 24, 2012

Legends Agassi, Graf, Hingis help out youngsters in Taiwan

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) Four tennis legends in Taiwan for Saturday's "Rise of Legends Taiwan 2012" exhibition held a clinic Friday morning for Taiwan's up-and-coming stars and said they were impressed by the group's talent. 

Grand Slam title winners Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Goran Ivanisevic and Martina Hingis showed both their charisma and skill in coaching the 32 players during the 40-minute session. 

Seemingly unaffected by jet lag after having arrived in Taiwan on separate flights Thursday and Friday, the tennis greats appeared lighthearted as each of them took a corner of the court to critique each player close up. 

Former No. 1 Agassi kept urging the young players -- who seemed content to rally from far behind the baseline -- to move up to the baseline to take the ball earlier, one of Agassi's greatest strengths. 

"Go! Go! Hit it," the American cried from time to time, acting frustrated whenever the players hit the ball into the net. 

Standing on the other side of the court, Ivanisevic couldn't resist playing up to his stereotype of being occasionally ill-tempered. 

Twice the Croatian jokingly slammed his racket to the ground to show his "dissatisfaction" with the youngsters' performance and even approached the net to shout at them to get them to play with more energy. 

Hingis and Graf, on the other hand, preferred positive reinforcement and gently offered advice to the players, reminding them to stay down. 

"Come stand by me," Hingis told an obviously nervous young girl, demonstrating a technique to improve her serve. 

The superstars' enthusiasm proved contagious and helped the youngsters pick up the session's pace, to the point where they began firing fierce returns that had Agassi playfully asking for mercy. 

Chen Pei-hsuan, a 12-year-old who traded balls with the four tennis legends, said she was most impressed by their geniality. 

Chen said that although she did not have a chance to witness the stars play in their prime, it did not prevent her from being a huge fan of theirs. 

"I like Graf the most because she played just like Caroline Wozniacki," she said, referring to the current world No. 9. 

The foursome were to attend a welcome cocktail party later in the day before taking part in the exhibition at Taipei Arena Saturday. 

Graf will face Hingis and Agassi will face Ivanisevic before the four play mixed doubles.

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