LARS ULRICH IS KNOWN WORLDwide as the drummer and outspoken leader of the heavy-metal band Metallica. But during the 1979-'80 school year, as a 16-year-old student in the second class to attend the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, in Sarasota, Fla., Ulrich was just another face in the crowd.
"Jimmy Arias and Paul Annacone were the stars who got the best court," says Ulrich, whose tennis credentials included a Top 10 junior ranking in his native Denmark. "At the academy, I realized that my ability wasn't enough to be a successful professional--far from it--and the discipline necessary was not in me."
Instead, Lars cofounded Metallica in 1981. But he never gave up tennis. These days he plays once or twice a week. One of his occasional opponents is his father, Torben, the free-spirited ex-pro who remains the oldest player (48 years, 11 months, in 1978) to compete in Davis Cup.
Lars, 38, lives in San Francisco with his wife, Skylar, a doctor, and their sons Myles, 3, and Layne, 1. A day after hitting with Bay Area resident Brad Gilbert, he kicked back at his home and beat the drums for his favorite sport.
STAGE PRESENCE - "I'm the Tasmanian Devil on the court. I'm all over the place. I get very animated and emotionally involved on every level possible."
WHEREVER I MAY ROAM - "I can see where the ball is going before most people I play with do. There's some sort of inbred tennis thing going on."
OFF KEY - "My second serve is so lame! It's tentative under pressure. It goes right in the net."
FAVORITE ROADIE - "I'm fortunate to call John McEnroe a friend. Whenever he's in town, we hang out. Whenever we're in New York, we hang out. We talk about music, we talk about art, we drink a few margaritas."
FAN FARE - "You've got to love the Jennifer Capriati story It's so amazing. It should give everyone faith in what they're aspiring to."
BACKSTAGE - "If I were running the men's tour, a requirement for every player would be to have an interesting personality. I would decide which players had personalities, and for those who didn't have one, they'd be off the tour."
ALL-ACCESS PASS - "Agassi is a true personality. The last player I thought was really interesting was Marcelo Rios, around the five or ten minutes that he peaked."
THE SHOW MUST GO ON - "Watching tennis on television, I don't like seeing all those timeouts. Like 'Hey, let's get a trainer down here so I can get a massage.' It bugs me."