Pros and celebs weigh in on Dirk Nowitzki’s Tennis Classic
Hear from John Isner, Ben Stiller, Andy Roddick, and of course Dirk Nowitzki at the Big German's inaugural Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic.
There aren’t many superstar athletes with relationships with their community stronger than the one Dirk Nowitzki shares with Dallas, and that fact was once again front and center Sunday at his inaugural Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic, held at SMU.
Nowitzki was joined by 11 celebrities and professional tennis players — including his teammates J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes, comedy film legend Ben Stiller, and American tennis stars Andy Roddick and John Isner, among others — for the event, which raised money for the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.
As is the case with any event involving the Big German, there were plenty of laughs all around all day, even as the games grew more competitive toward the end. Roddick, who retired from pro tennis in 2012, joked before the event that he was excited to play some “average tennis,” which by his standard is still world-class compared to the likes of the celebrities. (Roddick’s team eventually won. As the 2003 U.S. Open champion, that’s no surprise.)
Barnes was another to use that term to describe his own play. Put it this way: The Mavs’ new forward is really good at basketball, and that’s what matters most! He still enjoyed his time all the same, though. And now that he’s a Maverick, I’m sure Barnes will spend much more time with Nowitzki, who has a tennis court in his backyard. Barea and several other Mavericks have stopped by over the years to get in a few games, and now Barnes can as well. Mavs fans hope the 24-year-old will pick up on Dirk’s one-legged fade, but the German will probably offer some tips on the serve, too.
Stiller was the star of the day, as his journey to join the roster was as funny as Meet the Parents. The actor follows Nowitzki on Twitter and vice versa, so when the German was searching for some starpower he decided to hit Stiller up with a direct message on Twitter. “It was rather inappropriate, actually,” Stiller joked. As they say, it goes down in the DMs, and before long he committed to play.
While the competition was and comedy both were fierce, there was still room for some cute moments. From top of mind comes watching Barea hit around with his son before the games began. Barea, whose mother was a tennis coach in Puerto Rico, has been playing the sport ever since he was a young child, just like his son is now.
The man of the hour, Nowitzki, also picked up tennis at a very young age, calling the sport his first love. He enjoyed some success as a youngster on the German youth circuit, as well, and it’s easy to see why. A guy with his height and reach could be an imposing tennis player if he develops all the technique. Isner, for example, is one of the top American players in the world right now, and he’s 6-foot-10. Known for his serve, he pummels opponents and then dominates at the net.
No. 41 put his big serve on display, as well.
There was a nice mix of trick shots and real tennis on display, but ultimately everyone was there to just have fun and enjoy the games. Each of the 12 celebrities was matched up with a doubles partner who donated to the foundation. Rounding out the roster of celebs and tennis players in attendance: Boris Kodjoe, Philip Farmer, Benjamin Becker, Mitchell Krueger, Mark Knowles, and David Martin.