© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2003
When Jim Courier walked away from competitive tennis in 1999, he did so with a clear head.
"I ran out of that desire to continue to grind," Courier said.
These days, the 32-year-old, who grew up in Dade City and will compete in Saturday's Volvo Classic at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, is enjoying retirement. He divides time between New York and Orlando, plays tennis often, coaches some, writes and records music and works as a tennis broadcaster.
"I'm a full-time hobbyist," he said. "I'm just filling in the gaps. At some point, I'm going to have to settle down and grab onto something more firm. But at the moment, I'm enjoying a nomadic lifestyle."
Courier won 23 singles titles on tour, including two Australian Open (1992-93) and two French Open (1991-92) championships. He finished with more than $14-million.
"Not many people worked harder than I did," he said. "I just lost the motivation to do the work. I lost the joy of playing the matches. The grind of having no offseason for 12 years caught up with me."
Courier plays legend John McEnroe on Saturday, then competes in a mixed doubles match with Tracy Austin and Martina Navratilova. He faced Pete Sampras here 10 years ago in a charity event. Courier said he expects 40-50 friends and family to attend.
"I recognize fans are coming to see a little more than tennis, that there's some entertainment value as well," Courier said. "But out of respect for the fans, you have to play quality tennis. They're not coming to see us hack it around."
Tickets are $25-175. Boxes are available. Call (813) 301-2500 or visit stpetetimesforum.com.
GEARING UP: In an effort to promote its magazine and new products, Tennis Magazine hosts Demo Day on Saturday at Harbour Island Athletic Club & Spa. Products from racket and shoe manufacturers adidas, Babolat, Gamma-Fischer, Head/Penn, K-Swiss, New Balance, Penn, Prince, Volkl and Wilson will be featured. There will be clinics (8:30-11:30 a.m. for adults, 12:30-3:30 p.m. for juniors) with instruction from famed Nick Bollettieri and South Florida women's coach Gigi Fernandez, a former tour standout.
The event is free for the public.
"It's a great opportunity to bring the pages of the magazine to life," publisher Jeff Williams said. "It's a chance for consumers to come out to one place, and enjoy not only testing new equipment, but meet with our editors and meet with legends of the game."
As slots are limited, sign up in advance at www.tennis.com/demodays. Those who attend will receive a ticket to the Volvo Classic. A session for industry representatives and tennis professionals is Friday.
ON BOARD: Elena Dementieva, ranked 18th, added her name to an impressive entry list at the Sarasota Clay Court Classic, which is March 31-April 6 at the Meadows Country Club. Headliners in the $140,000 event are No. 13 Patty Schnyder, No. 15 Anna Pistolesi, No. 17 Elena Bovina, No. 19 Nathalie Dechy, No. 22 Lisa Raymond, No. 23 Tatiana Panova, No. 27 Meghann Shaughnessy, and former major champions Conchita Martinez, Iva Majoli and Mary Pierce.
For ticket information, call (941) 894-0040 or visit www.sarasotaclaycourtclassic.com.
ODDS AND ENDS: French Davis Cup standouts Arnaud Clement and Paul-Henri Mathieu joined No. 6 Andy Roddick and promising Mardy Fish of Tampa in entering the International Tennis Championships (March 3-9) at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. Clement lost to Andre Agassi in the 2001 Australian Open final. Call (561) 330-6000 for tickets. ... There will be 32 hours of TV coverage for the Nasdaq-100 Open at Key Biscayne (March 17-30), with the finals on CBS and weekday coverage on ESPN and ESPN2.