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John McEnroe: Someone with a “Normal Life” Can Succeed in Tennis

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For tennis star John McEnroe, there was more to his childhood than the sport he loves.

"I'm living proof of someone who can live 'a normal life,' go to school and play other sports, and succeed in tennis," the three-time Wimbledon winner told Niteside.

Wednesday night the Hall of Famer, native New Yorker and former world number one faced off against US tennis stud Andy Roddick to launch his new John McEnroe Tennis Academy.

The Belvedere- sponsored event took place at the new $18 Million SPORTIME at Randall’s Island Tennis Center. The facility will be home to McEnroe’s academy when it starts the inaugural set of full-year programs just after the 2010 U.S. Open.

On the heels of a great response to the World Cup and soccer country-wide, McEnroe said that he's confident that he can help develop the next generation of his sport in America.

“For many years the United States has struggled to develop its next class of elite players,” McEnroe told Niteside. “My academy... will provide a balance of world-class tennis and fitness training, along with a New York experience, so maybe our kids will be a little more creative, a little more intense, and will be able to think on their feet a little better, like any New Yorker.”

As for the two tennis greats, Wednesday night was their first time competing against each other.

During the match the hometown crowd was pulling for their champion. One fan shouted, "Come on Johnny Boy, that serve has nothing on it!"

McEnroe is well known for his athletic prowess, but his on-court theatrics and fiery temper, both of which were present in last night’s match, brought him notoriety. More than once during Wednesday night's match the tennis pro spiked the ball in the air, or reprimanded himself for missing one of Roddick’s speedy serves.

In the end, Roddick took the singles match in overtime.

But for the seasoned competitor, last night wasn't about the lose, it was showing parents that their kids can learn to play tennis like he did, in New York.

"I think people are influenced rather easily; they think you need to live someplace like Bollettieri, leave your parents at age six or eight. We're looking to provide a different option, something similar to what I had growing up."

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