Pete Sampras and Nirvana by David Linebarger

Leonardo Luque, Pete Sampras

Remember your first funeral? Pete put his first Wimbledon trophy in his coach’s casket. Earlier he broke down and cried between points and games against Courier in the 1995 Australian Open quarterfinals before somehow winning the match. Tim Gullickson, brain cancer, gone. Each grain of salt vanishes/becomes the cosmic ocean. Hinduism 101. The problem in Hinduism is that this essential truth lay hidden beneath a magical yet deceptive illusion of surfaces (Maya) that deceives us distracts us from understanding. The problem for sports fans when contemplating Sampras was much the same. Pete’s tremendous competitive will–“the strongest willed athlete I’ve ever seen” (Paul Annacone)–lay deceptively buried beneath the veil the veneer of a superb classic athlete, someone who made everything look easy: his all-court game, his running forehands, his gift of history’s best big clutch serve. On fast courts, especially, opponents were dispatched too easily. Spectators grew bored, the headlines cruel: Samprazzzzzzz would put you to sleep. How many are awake enough to see beneath life’s surfaces? How many might be enlightened? The answer in Hinduism is that everyone will be. Just give it enough time, enough lifetimes.


Currently a Professor of Humanities, David Linebarger’s publications include poetry, creative nonfiction, and scholarship in over thirty journals as well as two short books of poetry. His current book project is entitled Tennis Players as Works of Art.
Read more of David’s work at
Tennis Players as Works of Art.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Terveen Gill says:

    David’s creative piece on Pete Sampras and the concept of life is a beautiful contemplation that impacts the mind and heart like the perfect backhand volley. Pete Sampras was definitely one of my favorite tennis players and if he made the game look easy, then it can only be attributed to his dedication and caliber. Many of us only view what’s on the surface without ever digging deeper. Such is the shallow perspective of life.
    Congratulations David!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haoyando says:

    Thank you for the post. Love reading it. I am a Andre Agassi fan and for this reason I am cheering for Sampras’ opponent. I love to watch the two fight.

    Liked by 1 person

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