Mark Philippoussis first gained notoriety in 1995 when, at age 19, he became the youngest player to crack the year-end top 50 in the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) rankings and earned the ATP Newcomer of Year award. He validated the high expectations by defeating Pete Sampras in the third round of the 1996 Australian Open. He won his first ATP title in 1996 at Toulouse, followed by a strong 1997 season that included victories in Scottsdale, Munich and the prestigious Queen's Club event leading up to Wimbledon.
In a career that would be plagued by knee injuries, Philippoussis would go on to reach two grand slam singles finals at the 1998 U.S. Open and in 2003 at Wimbledon. His run at Wimbledon included a five-set victory over Andre Agassi in which he had 46 aces. The biggest of his 11 career singles titles came at the 1999 Indian Wells Masters event, then known as the Newsweek Champions Cup. His career was highlighted by the major role he played in two Davis Cup victories for Australia in 1999 and 2003. He achieved a career-high ranking of No. 8 in the world in April 1999 and earned just under $7 million in prize money.
Philippoussis is well-known to many non-tennis fans from being romantically linked to Delta Goodrem and Alexis Barbara and being named in People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue in 1998 and 2000. There was also his starring role on the NBC reality dating show Age of Love, The Bachelor-esque show that revolved around women in the 20s (Kittens) and 40s (Cougars) competing for the affection of the 30-year old tennis star. He would go on to choose 25-year old Nashville Predators dancer Amanda Salinas over 48-year old Jennifer Braff, Lakers owner Jerry Buss' assistant.
As part of the inaugural World TeamTennis season of the Texas Wild, they hosted the Boston Lobsters at Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas. The Wild won the match 22-17, but Philipossis kept the Lobsters alive by winning both his singles and doubles sets and putting on a show for the crowd with his blazing serve.
The man known to tennis fans as the "Scud" was kind enough to chat with us after the match on topics ranging from his new-clothing line and surfing to his famous serve and the Texas summer heat.
JAY BETSILL: In addition to World TeamTennis, what are you doing these days?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I launched a lifestyle clothing line called Phlip Apparel in January, so I am really focused on that. I'm also playing a little on the Champions Tour and I still play in exhibitions.
JB: Tell me about Phlip Apparel and what inspired you to do this endeavor.
MP: Phlip Apparel is a lifestyle brand for the luxury lifestyle. I want to create a tee-shirt, the 'perfect tee-shirt' where you can check out the waves at the beach or go out at night. We are also coming out with some shorts and jackets on the next few months.
JB: Where can people find it?
MP: It is in stores now, several of the top stores in LA, including Traffic in the Beverly Center, which I am super excited about. It's also in Miami and Japan.
JB: Being originally from Australia, it is traditionally fairly hot in the summer. How does this heat here in DFW compare?
MP: Now I live in San Diego, so when I got off the plane, I felt like something just slapped me in the face. This afternoon, some of my teammates asked if I wanted to go hit some balls, I told them I'd see them at 6:30. My warmup for the match consisted of walking from the hotel to the court. When the sun went down, it was a gift from above.
JB: Since this is the third match ever here in DFW, tell fans what they can expect from World TeamTennis.
MP: With team tennis, the format is so different and so much fun. I only play a few matches and I am mentally exhausted. It reminds me of Davis Cup in that you get to cheer on your teammates, the crowd is great and there is an incredible energy throughout the stadium. I'm always excited to compete and I had a lot of fun tonight.
JB: Your powerful serve is legendary among tennis fans. When was the last time you had the gun on your serve and how high did you hit?
MP: This year at Wimbledon, I played in an invitational event and I hit 140 (mph). Yeah, I've still got it.
JB: Tonight you began your night with two aces followed by two service winners. Do you think you were serving in that same speed range?
MP: For sure. In the first set, I really went for it and it felt great.
JB: What's next for you?
MP: I have the Liberty Trade Show in August for the clothing line, a Champions Tour event in London at Albert Hall, I think there's a team tennis event in Asia later in the year that I'll be playing in and I am really looking forward to going to Bali for a week to go surfing.
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