Look, I know they had this little shindig across the world where Djoko, Murray and Fed were doing battle (did anyone seriously pay attention to the women’s event after Serena and Maria went down?), but the real news in tennis was being made in the USTA Florida blog where Vince Spadea announced he’s officially retired. Here’s the obit:
Jan. 23, 2013
“Hey everyone! I’m hanging in there, enjoying life off tour. I can now sit in the stands and watch the great players compete. Do I miss the game? Yes and no. Yes, the thrill of competing in front of appreciative crowds and doing battle around the world. No, because of the little details everyday, the tough training, the travel, the injuries, the matches I almost won but didn’t. Overall, its time to let others compete and enjoy the ups and downs of being pro athlete.
What a privilege to be a pro tennis player. Countless memories, great people I met, friends I made, and times I will forever cherish…the rewards and rigors of the pro tennis tour. But as Billie Jean King eloquently said, “Pressure is a privilege.”
I guess you can’t fault the guy. He’s 38 and probably works out like once-a-never these days except to hit a few tennis balls for money, a lesson or a pro-am event. That’s what freaks me out about Spadea. You’d think the guy has played the game for so long, obviously loves it, but he’s told me he never calls up a Gimelstob or an Alex O’Brien and just goes out and hits. Maybe you’ve been motivated by the carrot of rankings and prize money for so long, that after that’s all gone, playing the game just doesn’t excite you anymore.
Would Vince coach a young or older player today and would any player be crazy as a fox to hire him? I don’t think so…Spadea might make a fine coach, think about all the knowledge he has and he’s a great hitting partner, but Vince has always been most about Vince (in his bio for the Florida USTA piece, it’s mentioned that he wrote “Break Point” which is absurd because I wrote the majority of it and had to extract most of the rest from Vince in interviews) and even in this transitional point in his life, I don’t think he wants to help another player. But what about Vince coaching a Donald Young or a James Blake? It would make for an interesting team and approach.
What about Ryan Harrison? Larry Stefanki was supposed to be his next coach, but instead Rhino has opted for a coaching team of his father and Tres Davis. Who the hell is Tres Davis? Turns out he’s a former Futures player working at a club in Austin, Texas where I guess Rhino lives. Rhino’s got to learn not to hire his friends or guys he feels he can pal around with to be his coach. Taylor Dent did that and never went anywhere near the Top-20 after that. And why would a 20-year-old with serious holes in his game want his father, who was a low-level pro at best, to be his coach? I’m a big proponent, especially in men’s tennis, to hire a coach who knows what it’s like to get to a place you’re trying to go. Rhino’s got to stop hiring his father, Scott McCain, Grant Doyle and Tres Davis to coach him. Soon he’s going to find himself in the DY sweepstakes.
Here’s what Rhino said about his relationship with his dad:
He’s not one of those father figures who doesn’t know tennis, he played at a very high level and knows me more than anyone. Part of it is maturity on my part. You get to the point where everything your dad is telling you seems like criticism and them you get older and you realize that he’s saying things for your best interest. You can have disagreements that can be productive conservations, rather than arguments.”
Look, if you’re No. 57 behind Brian Baker in the rankings, you don’t need someone who knows you better than anyone else, you need a fresh set of eyes, experienced and who knows what it takes to play big time tennis, to take over. How about a Tim Mayotte if Stefanki isn’t coming aboard?
One thing Spadea said in the USTA piece makes a lot of sense, you’ve got to do 7 things well to win big time on the pro tour, hit a forehand, backhand, serve, volley, play defensively, offensively and learn how to be mentally tough. The Tres Davis’s of the world can’t teach you how to do that at the level Rhino is trying to break into, the Mayottes, Spadeas and Brad Gilberts can.