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1) Infuriate Agassi's own shoe company, Nike. The folks from Swoosh, who have been with Agassi since the creation, recently wanted to bring out a new Andre-model blue jeans, but Shelton nixed the idea and went with a French line instead. "What a rocket scientist!" says an agent who is a rival of Shelton's. "Nike's got to be upset. Agassi's got the slick new Wake Up the Country Club commercials out, and he bags the jeans deal with the meal ticket, Nike, to go foreign. Brilliant!"
2) Anger several racket manufacturers in a bidding war for Agassi's endorsement, at the end of which he dropped Prince (whom Shelton himself used to work for) and signed with a Belgian company, Donnay. The Belgians, desperate for an American sprout, have promised rackets of various hues—the Agassi model being red, blue and yellow—and a contract reported to run anywhere from three to six years at a cool million dollars a year. One losing bidder dropped out at what he called "the threshold of pain," saying that "this kid is more than just a huge gamble." Another bidder reportedly passed when Shelton insisted that Bollettieri and racket stringer Warren Bosworth be included as consultants in order to complete the deal.
3) Upset Wimbledon and Australian Open officials by holding Agassi out of those Grand Slam events. Last year a "tired" Agassi stayed away from Wimbledon, and then played nonstop Boston to Stuttgart to Buenos Aires. Agassi plans to skip Wimbledon again this summer. "I don't know why everybody puts so much emphasis on Wimbledon," Shelton said, defending his client's decision. "It's just another tournament like the rest. It's just not on his schedule. Andre needs a rest between the clay and hard-court seasons. He'll play Wimbledon. Wimbledon is going to be around." But the omission of Wimbledon from his busy, busy schedule was hardly the only baffling decision. "Nobody in the industry thinks they have any plan, any strategy, any schedule, any idea what they're doing," says one high US. Tennis Association official. "Shelton's in way over his head."
4) Embarrass promoters. The day after the U.S. Davis Cup team's victory over Paraguay, Agassi was scheduled to fly to Canada for two nights of exhibition matches against McEnroe. At the U.S. celebration party on Sunday night in Fort Myers, however, Canadians who had been officiating the Cup tie told the Agassi contingent of the sub-zero temperatures in the north country. At 11 o'clock the next morning—eight hours before Agassi was to take the court at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens—Shelton called the Canadian promoter, Andrzej Kepinski, and said Agassi had bronchitis and would not be appearing in the exhibitions. Kepinski, furious and panicky at the same time, immediately put in a call to Connors, who was provided a chartered jet so that he could rush to Canada and fill the card.
That same day, back in Florida, the Canadian officials were stunned to observe Agassi frolicking poolside at the Sonesta Sanibel Harbour Resort. Shelton meanwhile was telling different people different stories about Agassi's whereabouts. Kepinski, who had to shell out $80,000 in additional expenses for Connors because Agassi didn't show, sent a private investigator to Florida to check things. "Who does Agassi think he is?" said McEnroe. "He's not supposed to pull this kind of stunt until he's 25."
5) Cross the media. One national tennis reporter calls the obstinate Shelton "Mr. No, No, No." Indeed, Shelton refused to let Agassi talk to SI. (Phil Agassi's no better. It's one thing when Phil doesn't know who Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times is. It's quite another when he treats the preeminent sports columnist in the land "like I was applying for a job," as Murray puts it. "I wasn't even annoyed. I was just doing a piece for the tournament in L.A. But the brother was so curt, truculent. Finally it got to be too damn much trouble.")
In Florida a couple of weeks ago a local reporter asked Phil who the "real" Andre Agassi was. "A drug addict," sneered the overbearing brother. Sarcastically. We hope.
On his own, Andre couldn't be nicer or more cooperative, almost too sincere to be real. But someone has the notion that he will progress only if accompanied by a sidekick carrying a protective shield and a scabbard. Maybe it's Shelton, or his brother, or his father. Or even Bollettieri. All of the swarthy Campmaster's past baseline prodigies have met mostly with failure on fast surfaces. Although Shelton was the mouthpiece who defended the move, the pass-up-Wimbledon decision smacks of Bollettieri's influence. In fact, some observers say that Shelton is too much the toady to be making policy generally and that the agent, a close friend of Bollettieri's for years, is surely beholden to the coach for his association with Agassi.
Like Connors, with whom he is most often compared in terms of background, style and work-the-crowd behavior, Agassi developed a sort of us-against-the world mentality apparently nurtured by his parents. Even Phil, who played at UNLV, blames his never making the NCAA tournament on, vaguely, "politics and politicians."
The stocky progenitor of the clan, Mike, 55, used to be the scourge of the USTA's Intermountain section back when his kids were growing up—an angry man whose history of conflict with both officials and parents on the junior circuit is well documented by formal letters of protest against him and his children. Besides Phil and Andre, Mike and Elizabeth (a.k.a. Betty) Agassi's family includes Rita, 28 and married to tennis legend Pancho Gonzales, and Tami, a sophomore at Tyler (Texas) Junior College. All four grew up on the family court, where Mike usually had nine or 10 ball machines going nonstop.