DALLAS – Legend has it that if former Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki would have stuck with tennis as his primary sport as a teenager, he had the talent to perhaps make it on the ATP World Tour.
“I don’t know about that,” Nowitzki told us last year. “I was decent when I was a junior, but I think the desire to stick to basketball, I think that was a good choice looking back at it now.”
But with basketball out of the way and retirement in full force, Nowitzki could start his quest towards fulfilling his professional tennis dreams next month when his annual tennis classic returns.
The fourth annual Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic is set for Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the SMU Tennis Complex.
Mavericks players from the past and present will be there, including 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year, Luka Dončić, Steve Nash, Dwight Powell, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris.
Tommy Haas, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist and former World No. 2 will also play, along with Mark Knowles, Grand Slam doubles champ and five-time Olympian. Actor Boris Kodjoe, known for his roles in the TV series Station 19, Code Black and Soul Food, and the 2000 film Love & Basketball will also compete. More players will be announced soon.
Haas, who retired last year following a stellar career on the ATP World Tour, believes he has some (tennis) history with Nowitzki. Like Nowitzki, Haas hails from Germany and reached as high as No. 2 in the world in 2002.
“People claim that we played each other in the 14’s or 12-and-under somewhere back in the day,” said Haas, who played in last year’s tournament. “I don’t remember that, unfortunately, but it’ll be great if somebody can find actually a picture if it exists somewhere of both of us being out there on the court.”
Meanwhile, Haas is overjoyed to see his fellow countryman having such an amazing impact in the Dallas community.
“Obviously it’s great to see what Dirk has done on and off the court, and obviously I love following his career,” Haas said. “One of the greatest players of all time coming from Germany, it’s pretty incredible.
“So I’m very happy and honored to know him as a friend and to be invited back here and seeing all the great work he’s doing also off the court helping families helping kids. It’s fun to see some familiar faces here playing a little tennis for a good cause. How can you say ‘no’ to that?”
That “good cause” is what makes Nowitzki ticks and why he’s hellbent on coming back year after year after year to help the less fortunate.
THE DIRK NOWITZKI FOUNDATION
Proceeds from the fourth annual Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic will benefit the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, a charitable endeavor that seeks to make the lives of children better. Since the very beginning of Dirk Nowitzki’s long and storied Dallas Mavericks career, the DNF has awarded millions to help disadvantaged children.
The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation is dedicated to putting children first and assisting them through programs focusing on their wellbeing, health and education. Each year, the organization awards grants and funds projects to nonprofit organizations which run true to the overall mission of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation. The Foundation lifts up children who are affected by illness, poverty, abuse, and neglect through proper channels of guidance and directs them on a path to success.
“I was very fortunate to be able to realize my dream and become a professional athlete,” Nowitzki said. “With my experiences in sports, I learned that you have to work hard to reach your goal, but many children around the world need help to even have a chance to enhance their lives and to realize their dreams. With the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, I want to help provide education, health, and well-being for these children and to make a difference in their lives.”
Nowitzki’s tennis classic is just the start of a busy season for the former NBA star.
Just this week, Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) announced plans to honor Jessica and Dirk Nowitzki with the Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award on November 14, 2019. The guest speaker for the evening is Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, the Michigan circuit court judge who allowed more than 150 abuse survivors to testify in court against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Judge Aquilina will be there to present Jessica and Dirk with the honor.
To learn more about the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation: click here.
Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic
Sept. 15, 2019
11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Gates open at 10 a.m.)
SMU Tennis Complex
*Full list of participants will be updated as the date nears
RAIN OR SHINE! Spectator tickets to the tournament are $20 for adults and youth, and free for children 3 and under.
You can purchase tickets at the door or click here to buy them in advance.
Parking is available in the Mustang Parking Center (6001 Bush Ave.)
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