Roddick, Haas Help NBA's Nowitzki Raise Money For Good Cause
Former and current ATP World Tour players helped NBA star Dirk Nowitzki raise money for his self-named foundation over the weekend. Nowitzki, who plays for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, hosted the third edition of the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic on Saturday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Former greats Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, Taylor Dent and Mark Knowles, along with current player Mitchell Krueger, who recently qualified for the US Open, helped Nowitzki, along with teammates Devin Harris and Dwight Powell and former Maverick Monta Ellis, raise money for the Nowitzki foundation's children charities. Former ATP pros David Martin and Andrew Painter along with pro wakeboarder Steel Lafferty also participated in the event.
Former World No. 1 Roddick, who lives about 315 kilometres south in Austin, played in the event for the third time and was happy to help Nowitzki, who played tennis as a boy growing up in Germany but eventually focused on basketball and is set to begin his 21st season with the Mavericks.
“He’s been so generous with my foundation down in Austin in giving an auction item and making people feel really special being his guest at a Mavs game,” Roddick said. “This is a way that I can try to repay his generosity in what he’s doing in leading the way here in Dallas.
“I really hope Dallas realises what they have with him. Culture gets set from the top, and he’s one of the icons of Dallas sports.”
Rumour has it that Nowitzki and fellow German Haas, who announced his retirement in March in Indian Wells, played each other back in the day, during a 12-and-under or 14-and-under competition.
“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,” Haas said. “We’re both the same age, we both turned 40 this year. He’s still doing it, I just recently retired on tour, so there’s a lot of similarities here and there. But all respect goes to him on and off the court.”
Haas, the BNP Paribas Open tournament director, said it's a privilege to assist his countryman.
“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 honoured 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?”
Dent, who reached No. 21 in the ATP Rankings, recently moved to nearby Keller and was also honoured to participate in the event.
“It’s always fun to get out here and compete and have a good time for such a great cause,” he said. “Dirk and [wife] Jessica [Olsson], I got to see their video last night and just a glimpse of what they do.
“They’re really pouring their hearts and souls back into the communities, so it’s an honour for me to be a part of it. You can tell with his personality he takes a lot of grief from everybody, but takes it so well. He really seems like a very humble and a very genuine person.”
Knowles and partner Camelia Georgiana Marta beat Krueger and Olsson 10-5 in the doubles finals. Marta was named the No. 1 amateur player and Krueger the top celebrity player.
“The turnout was great,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Everybody is having fun, a lot of celebs flew in town again to support, so we’re excited.”