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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #1
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The Other Agassi: Rita

Dwarfed as she is by her younger brother in tennis fame Andre's elder sister Rita deserves some attention.

How good was she?
How good could she have been?

Did her lack of success pave the way for the Agassi family to make different
decisions when it came to Andre? Tennis is replete with older siblings whose careers never take off while younger sibs soak up all the good while avoiding the pitfalls. Suzy Jaeger, the Everts and Austins might fit that mold.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 04:18 PM   #2
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Rita's father Emanuel Agassi (born 1930) was of Assyrain origin but an Iranian citizen. He represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games in boxing.
He immigrated to the US in the mid 1950s. Known as "Mike", according to wikipedia he has admitted that his first 3 children (Andre was the 4th and youngest) were "Guinea Pigs" in his quest to create to top tennis player. As the eldest child (18 October 1960) Rita was the first "Guinea Pig". Mike's book The Agassi Story (2004) may contain a good amount of information on her.

Rita graduated from Valley High in Las Vegas in 1977.

She married tennis champ Pancho Gonzalez (1928-1995) as his sixth and last wife on 31 March 1984. Their son's name is Skylar (b 1986?). The pair divorced in 1989, but Rita was at his bedside when he died, the only former wife to maintain contact with the hard-edged Pancho.

In fact Pancho has started out as Rita's coach, first tutoring her in 1973. When Mike demanded she break with Pancho in 1975 she refused. Rita moved out of the Agassi home as soon as she turned 18. By the time she was 20 she had moved in with Gonzalez.

"Gonzáles had coached the young Rita until she had rebelled against her father's 5,000-balls-a-day-regimen and first moved in with, then married, on 31 March 1984, the much older Gonzáles. Years before, Mike Agassi, already a tennis fanatic, had once served as a linesman for one of Gonzáles's professional matches in Chicago. Gonzáles had upbraided Agassi so severely for perceived miscalls that Agassi had walked away and gone to sit in the stands."(Wiki article on Gonzales)

Some sources (Sandra Price of Sports Illustrated) maintained that Mike Agassi hated Pancho so much he considered having him killed. When Gonzalez died Rita's brother Andre paid for the funeral.

For many years Rita was a tennis pro at Ballys Casino in Las Vegas.

Last edited by Rollo : Nov 11th, 2009 at 05:24 PM.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 04:39 PM   #3
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Rita's relationship with her brother has been tense at times. This article is from 2000. The last couple of sentences are very revealing.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2000...s-health-woes/


Agassi dealing with family’s health woes


Victoria Sun
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2000 | 10:30 a.m.

Andre Agassi's mother, Elizabeth, was released from a local hospital Wednesday after being treated for a blood clot related to breast cancer.
"She's fine," said Rita Agassi, Andre's sister. "She's OK.
"She's home now. I'm very relieved. Hopefully, everything will be fine now."
Andre Agassi, the top seed at the U.S. Open, was scheduled to play his second-round match against Arnaud Clement today.
The health of his mother and sister has become a major topic at the Open -- and not everybody's happy about it.

In an interview with CBS Sports' Mary Carillo, Agassi revealed late Tuesday night that he has been having trouble concentrating on tennis because his mom, who Rita says prefers to be called Betty, and his youngest sister, Tami, both have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Tami played on the UNLV women's tennis team in 1988.

"It has been a difficult year in many respects with my sister having breast cancer, and my mom was diagnosed with it just a month ago," Andre Agassi told Carillo. "It hasn't been easy, but in many ways it has gotten the family stronger and close.

"And it has given me perspective, that unfortunately sometimes only tragedies can bring, that I am trying to utilize in a positive way. My concentration hasn't been the easiest, but I think it is getting better."
The fact that Carillo prompted Agassi to go public about his mother and sister's health angered his coach, Brad Gilbert. After a practice session Wednesday, Gilbert tersely addressed the subject.

"I think Mary asked him on the court the other night," Gilbert said. "She shouldn't have done that.

"The reporting here should be about tennis, not about his personal life. Anybody that is going through personal tragedy with their family likes to keep that to themselves. I find it generally rude for people to ask him about it."
But Rita Agassi blames her brother more than she does Carillo.

"He shouldn't have said anything about it," Rita said. "It's very, very personal.
"It's their illness and I wouldn't feel right talking about it. It's like if someone talked about me having a tumor. I don't think they want people talking about them. It's better to ask them about it."

Rita, a teaching pro at Bally's, has been estranged from Andre for many years. She cited personal reasons for their rocky relationship.
"I can't stand him," she said. "His name is not allowed to be said on my court. There is no water under the bridge or over the bridge. There is no bridge.
"It's not that I wish him harm. I hope he has a good life. Just a life away from mine."
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 04:42 PM   #4
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Rita once said of the way Mike taught tennis, of the kind of man he was, "My father was a sober drunk."

From http://www.tennisserver.com/wildcard...rds_08_10.html

Rita Agassi was the first-born child and "The fact is, I ruined tennis for Rita by pushing her too hard," Mike admitted. "My theory was, if you hated losing enough, you wouldn't lose, and so I harangued her half to death. For Rita, I made sure it was tennis all the time. When Rita's friends were at the movies, out having a good time, Rita was on the tennis court -- always," Mike said. And what was the result of all this programming? "By the time she was 13, the kid had bleeding ulcers," Mike lamented. As you might expect, there comes a point where you get pushed hard enough, something's going to give. "She was like Andre: headstrong and feisty, competitive, and very self-motivated. Any time I pushed her, she pushed right back, even throwing games and sometimes entire matches to make her point. Just to spite me, she married tennis legend -- and world class ***** Pancho Gonzalez, who was 32 years her senior," Mike wrote. "I was so angry, felt so betrayed, I considered putting a hit on him. Believe me, with my job as a waiter at the Tropicana Hotel and later, a greeter at the MGM in Las Vegas, I had the contacts. Just for the record, though, I didn't. Pancho and Rita were married for nearly 10 years and produced an incredible son, Skylar, before divorcing in 1989. Pancho died of cancer a few years later (on July 3, 1995); by then, we'd made our peace with each other. Andre paid for his funeral," Mike noted.

Last edited by Rollo : Nov 11th, 2009 at 04:57 PM.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #5
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Sandra Price's article "the Lone Wolf"-from Sports Illustrated

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...6099/index.htm
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 09:14 AM   #6
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
Dwarfed as she is by her younger brother in tennis fame Andre's elder sister Rita deserves some attention.

How good was she?
How good could she have been?

Did her lack of success pave the way for the Agassi family to make different
decisions when it came to Andre? Tennis is replete with older siblings whose careers never take off while younger sibs soak up all the good while avoiding the pitfalls. Suzy Jaeger, the Everts and Austins might fit that mold.
RolloThat is an interesting comparison it really is. You are right with the siblings business and the fact that younger players seemed to benefit from the pitfalls of their elders.
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 09:16 AM   #7
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
Rita's father Emanuel Agassi (born 1930) was of Assyrain origin but an Iranian citizen. He represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games in boxing.
He immigrated to the US in the mid 1950s. Known as "Mike", according to wikipedia he has admitted that his first 3 children (Andre was the 4th and youngest) were "Guinea Pigs" in his quest to create to top tennis player. As the eldest child (18 October 1960) Rita was the first "Guinea Pig". Mike's book The Agassi Story (2004) may contain a good amount of information on her.

Rita graduated from Valley High in Las Vegas in 1977.

She married tennis champ Pancho Gonzalez (1928-1995) as his sixth and last wife on 31 March 1984. Their son's name is Skylar (b 1986?). The pair divorced in 1989, but Rita was at his bedside when he died, the only former wife to maintain contact with the hard-edged Pancho.

In fact Pancho has started out as Rita's coach, first tutoring her in 1973. When Mike demanded she break with Pancho in 1975 she refused. Rita moved out of the Agassi home as soon as she turned 18. By the time she was 20 she had moved in with Gonzalez.

"Gonzáles had coached the young Rita until she had rebelled against her father's 5,000-balls-a-day-regimen and first moved in with, then married, on 31 March 1984, the much older Gonzáles. Years before, Mike Agassi, already a tennis fanatic, had once served as a linesman for one of Gonzáles's professional matches in Chicago. Gonzáles had upbraided Agassi so severely for perceived miscalls that Agassi had walked away and gone to sit in the stands."(Wiki article on Gonzales)

Some sources (Sandra Price of Sports Illustrated) maintained that Mike Agassi hated Pancho so much he considered having him killed. When Gonzalez died Rita's brother Andre paid for the funeral.

For many years Rita was a tennis pro at Ballys Casino in Las Vegas.
RolloThanks for that- I think it is lovely that she met and loved Gonzalez. The age difference is irrelevant.
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 10:12 PM   #8
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

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RolloThanks for that- I think it is lovely that she met and loved Gonzalez. The age difference is irrelevant.
OK, iain, I know ya got a thing for rotting codgers (excluding here of course the ageless and breathtaking nelslus ) and all that. AND, I know the PC thing is to be nonjudgmental, which I COULD try to aspire to. But, still, I must go there.....

The age difference is irrelevant? A 53 year old getting involved with a 20 year old (and/or whenever there thing truly started)? EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

I'm sorry, but IMO a mature, unscrewed up 53 year old should not want to be involved with a 20 year old in a long-term relationship or marriage. And IMO from Rita's end, this was just a big dysfunctional Mike-Agassi-rebellion-reaction thing. I mean, adults can do what adults want and all, of course. But, I just think that SOME age gaps were not meant to be bridged.
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

Quote:
Originally Posted by nelslus View Post
OK, iain, I know ya got a thing for rotting codgers (excluding here of course the ageless and breathtaking nelslus ) and all that. AND, I know the PC thing is to be nonjudgmental, which I COULD try to aspire to. But, still, I must go there.....

The age difference is irrelevant? A 53 year old getting involved with a 20 year old (and/or whenever there thing truly started)? EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

I'm sorry, but IMO a mature, unscrewed up 53 year old should not want to be involved with a 20 year old in a long-term relationship or marriage. And IMO from Rita's end, this was just a big dysfunctional Mike-Agassi-rebellion-reaction thing. I mean, adults can do what adults want and all, of course. But, I just think that SOME age gaps were not meant to be bridged.
JeffTrust you to have a go at me for this one.I kind of understand what you mean but it is not so bad if two people do love each other. It is a huge age gap but then Gonzalez had loads of charisma and that is often far more appealing than looks or age. And before you ask yes I did avail my services to a few older men when I was in my teens and early twenties- WOOF!!!!
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 11:33 AM   #10
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

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Originally Posted by iainmac View Post
JeffTrust you to have a go at me for this one.I kind of understand what you mean but it is not so bad if two people do love each other. It is a huge age gap but then Gonzalez had loads of charisma and that is often far more appealing than looks or age. And before you ask yes I did avail my services to a few older men when I was in my teens and early twenties- WOOF!!!!
It is a massive age gap Macky! If my eldest daughter, brought home a 53 year old guy, I don't think I'd be too pleased! I have no problem with 10/12 years, but 33, is a different thing altogether.
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #11
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

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It is a massive age gap Macky! If my eldest daughter, brought home a 53 year old guy, I don't think I'd be too pleased! I have no problem with 10/12 years, but 33, is a different thing altogether.
SueOf course it is and you would be right. But for some reason Nelslus seems to think that I fancy really ancient men and for that reason I am going to wind him up knowing he cant resist answering!!!:hearts/.
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 11:43 AM   #12
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

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SueOf course it is and you would be right. But for some reason Nelslus seems to think that I fancy really ancient men and for that reason I am going to wind him up knowing he cant resist answering!!!:hearts/.
Macky you are a naughty boy It seems that Rita, had a very hard life, one way or another
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 01:45 PM   #13
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Re: The Other Agassi: Rita

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Originally Posted by chrissiefan View Post
Macky you are a naughty boy It seems that Rita, had a very hard life, one way or another
Good Afternoon SueIknow that I am naughty!!!!I wonder if Rita ever played any of the GS? Presumably at some point she did play the US Open?
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