Break Point! The Secret Diary of a Pro Tennis Player
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Publisher: ECW Press , He taught himself the game so he could teach his kids to play, and then dedicated his life to their tennis. With his father off the sidelines, Spadea must have felt the freedom to put more of his personality on display. Vince Sr. At the French Open, we had a long conversation though we didn't know each other about everything going on during the clay-court season, about Vince and every other player imaginable.
Who knew? Spadea never seems to tire of the challenge, though, and I came away admiring how his tenacity has only increased with age—a rarity in any line of work. Book Club: Deconstructing Vince. If all of us were successful at our first try, anyone could march right up the rankings. But tennis is a sport that challenges and tests you many times in each match.
I can either keep at it and find my winning formula again, or I can give up. My fate is in my own hands. We both hold serve to force a tie break.
I have already won two tie breaks in this tournament, coming back in the first round to beat a young American, Bobby Reynolds, , after not having played for five days because of my shoulder ailment and a bout with the flu. I know I need to be sharp to win this tie break against Blake. I move to a advantage and I have three set points. James comes back firing, and I get a little tight and don't go for my shots. I put my first serve in and get aggressive.
I want to be the guy who makes the offensive shot, who dares to win in big matches and points. I hit a backhand, down-the-line winner and move up for another set point. Blake serves two shaky serves and double-faults.
I didn't have to hit a ball, but what a tough set to win, and it proves pivotal. I stay strong and up my level with aggressive play and great returning in the second set, and Blake falls victim to the "I'm still thinking about my missed opportunity in the first set" syndrome. I break him three times to close out the match I'm glad to win in straight sets, since it is cold and late and I'm playing in the semifinals tomorrow against a big Croatian named Mario Ancic, who won earlier in the day and is now resting.
This is just another night when I feel like I'm the happiest guy in the world. Not many things can replace the feeling of victory. I pack my bags and wave to the crowd, which includes the mayor of Scottsdale.
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I do my interviews and hurry back to my hotel, where room service and the television will be my company for the night as I plot out my strategy for tomorrow. Another good day. Got up at nine and had a practice from 10 to 11 with Kevin Kim, a fellow American.
I rushed my breakfast. Normally, I like to eat one or two hours before I practice or play. The weather was cold, inclement as usual. You'd be surprised how fast days go by eating three meals, practicing and stretching, practicing and stretching, and then coming back to the hotel to chill out before I go to bed. I'm feeling the ball well, but I'm not hitting with much spin.
Five Questions for Vince Spadea
Normally, I want to hit a heavy ball with a lot of spin on clay. The more spin you put on the ball, the less risk you're taking. There's a better chance for the ball to go in. When the ball hits deep and bites, it bounces with more force upwards and into the opponent, and usually out of his strike zone. It's a higher percentage play than hitting the ball flat, and if you do it many times over, it eventually can wear your opponent down.
Obviously, a blast that goes in is ultimately the best shot, but you're not going to be able to hit that shot consistently over an entire match. With my shoulder problems, hitting topspin puts more pressure on the joint. It's a different backswing and hit, and I'm using different muscles to contort and twist into the ball. I'm trying to ease into it day by day, because I haven't been practicing that much. With the cold conditions, I never want to rush into hitting big topspin.
This is my job. At the end of the day, it can sometimes seem to other people redundant and repetitive--like a Groundhog Day situation--but that's not the way I look at it. I look at every new day as a new challenge to prove I'm a better tennis player than I was yesterday.