Is it any wonder that when NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon isn't zooming around the track in his #24 DuPont Chevrolet car, he picks tennis to help stay in top physical and mental shape? "Tennis is one of those sports that can help you stay focused and that challenges you mentally and physically," Gordon says. "It helps you feel better about yourself and boosts your self-esteem."
Gordon needs little help in boosting his self-esteem. The 32-year-old Gordon, a four-time Winston Cup champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, has broken records at all stages of his racing career and won the admiration of millions of fans, not to mention his racing colleagues.
But on the tennis court, it isn't all about work. "Tennis is a great way to get out and meet new people," Gordon says. "I get a great workout and have some fun."
Katie Couric, NBC Today co-host: "Tennis is a game that you can play your entire life. You see people of all ages out on the tennis court. Cardiovascular-wise, it is terrific."
Jeannette Lee, billiards champion: "Tennis is a great display of intensity, heart and power. In tennis, an ace is similar to a great break in billiards. In both sports that initial move can mean the difference between winning and losing."
Rick Fox, Los Angeles Lakers: "Since I started playing tennis, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. In tennis you've got to constantly move your feet-footwork is so important. I feel like this side-to-side movement in tennis equates to basketball, where you're also always moving."
Randy Jackson, music mogul, American Idol judge: "It's exercise, but it's also relaxing and fun. You try to do something right and when it happens, let's say you hit a beautiful shot for a winner, it's like a revelation. I love working at it."
Ted Koppel, ABC News Nightline anchor and managing editor: "When I am on vacation, I play tennis every day and it's one of the great joys of my private life. Even though I don't play tennis today as well as I did when I was 34, if I'm playing with someone else who's in my general age group, the level of competition is just as fierce, and the game is just as intense, and I get just as much enjoyment out of it. I truly do recommend tennis to young people because you can get pleasure out of tennis for the rest of your life."
Wayne Gretzky, hockey Hall-of-Famer: "Tennis to me is one of the more challenging sports around. It requires as wide a range of skills-speed, precision, hand-eye coordination-as you'll ever see. You've got to play the whole game in tennis."
Sally Ride, astronaut: "I'm a physics professor, and there's actually a lot you can learn about physics from tennis-angles, speed, velocity. All of these things are vital for tennis. Tennis has been a great way for me to get great exercise and learn some wonderful lessons about sportsmanship."