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No Rain on Castroneves' (Tennis) Parade

Jun 08, 2012 04:02PM ● Published by Mike

FORT WORTH, Texas – Rain may have ruined the opportunity Wednesday for two of the state’s top junior tennis players from the Southlake Tennis Center to play against IZOD IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves, but the charismatic star still delivered an ace to the local tennis community.

More than 30 parents and children from the Southlake Tennis Center still made the trip to Texas Motor Speedway despite the inclement weather and Castroneves rewarded them with an impromptu Q&A on tennis, racing, and, of course, dancing as well as sign autographs and pose for photographs.

“Thank you so much for still coming out,” Castroneves told the group. “I was disappointed that we didn’t get to play because it was going to be a lot of fun. I even practiced some yesterday to get ready. Maybe I can come back and do it another time.”

Texas Motor Speedway had created a tennis court on pit lane – with everything from the court lines being in Firestone red to ball boys and an umpire’s chair – to allow Castroneves an opportunity to enjoy one of his other sporting passions. Castroneves, humble about his tennis game but very skilled, was going to be paired with Southlake Tennis Center’s pro instructor and fellow Brazilian Manuela Santos for a mixed doubles match with two of the center’s top junior players. They were going to play against Jacob Brisky, ranked 33rd in the state and Boys 18s Superchamp, and Haley Whatley, a Girls 18 Superchamp and ranked among the top 100 in the state.

Despite the rainout, Castroneves entertained the group in the Samsung Mobile Infield Media Center with a variety of stories ranging from his pick to win the French Open – Rafa Nadal – to how Serena Williams would be as an IndyCar Series driver.

“I know she would be tough,” Castroneves said. “If she was coming up behind me in an Indy car, I’d be like “Whoa, okay yes come on right by me.”

And of course everyone wanted to know if he would be competing in the “Dancing With The Stars” All-Star edition that will launch this fall on ABC.

“I have spoken to them some, but I think you may have to vote for it so I may be asking everyone here to vote for me,” Castroneves said. “I asked the team if I could do it and they said I can so we’ll see.”

Castroneves, third in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship and three-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway, will get back to business Friday when practice and qualifying begins for the Firestone 550. The IZOD IndyCar Series will practice from 12:30-1:45 p.m. CT, qualify from 3:30-5 p.m. and then follow with a final practice from 6:45-7:15 p.m.

The Firestone 550, the seventh event of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, is set for Saturday evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

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