John McEnroe still bringing it at age 55

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Some of the greatest tennis players of all time put on a show at the Champions Challenge Series at Energy Solutions Arena Tuesday night.

John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and James Blake gave Utah fans a taste of how good American tennis used to be.

"It's tough out there," Sampras said about the lack of U.S. male tennis stars these days. "Competition has gotten tougher and the world has gotten a little bit better. The game has gone more global."

"I feel a little concerned," said McEnroe. "I feel like its lost its edge to a certain extent."

McEnroe beat Sampras in the semifinals, 6-3, while Blake took care of Courier 7-5. 

Blake then went on to defeat McEnroe 7-6, winning the tiebreaker, 7-5.

Tuesday was a look back into the past. But what about the future of American tennis?

Only two American male players are ranked in the top-60. Part of the problem is the best athletes aren't going into tennis. Basketball, baseball and football take most of the American talent pool. But McEnroe says tennis officials have stripped away a lot of the game's personality.

"When the likes of myself, [Ilie] Nastase and [Jimmy] Connors were roaming the courts, they felt like the inmates were running the asylum. So, they changed the rules and I think they tightened up the rules too much."

McEnroe was portrayed as the villain when he played because of his numerous tantrums, but things are different now.

"I actually get paid a bonus if I do that now," he said. "It's amazing that before they wanted to run me out of the game, and now they're screaming at me if I don't yell at them."

Sampras is considered to be the greatest American tennis player, but how would he fair against the best in the world today?

"Every great player in their decade always felt unbeatable," Sampras said. Back in the day, I felt unbeatable. But how would I do against the guys today? I don't know. Everything has gotten better with technology, but I think I would have held my own."

So while the primary goal of this tournament is to entertain fans, it's also to inspire kids so that one day the United States will once again produce some of the greatest players in the world.

"You hope there are a couple kids that get inspired," McEnroe said. "Some young kid that would come that would turn to tennis. If you do that with a handful of kids, you feel like you've succeeded."

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