Jan/13

31

Vince Spadea Has Officially Retired


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.

11 comments

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · January 31, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Hope to see Vince play the seniors in Delray someday, they should give him a wildcard. Like the idea of Mayotte coaching Harrison. BTW Mayotte has just started a tennis site for his operation in NY. Check out http://www.360tennis.net it’s pretty interesting.

  • Steve · January 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I had thought he was retired but was planning a comeback???

    Some of the best coaches in sport weren’t top tier players during their careers.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · January 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    He never officially retired Steve, just stopped playing. As Dan revealed, he was contemplating a comeback a few times but I guess he realized it wasn’t gonna work. I remember after he stopped playing he was with us in Delray Beach 2-3 years ago, we were watching a match on center court, and he said the hardest part of not being on the tour anymore was the fact that “you’re not THE MAN anymore. You’re not THE MAN.” Always will remember how he said that. When you’re still on the tour you are looked at in like an awe. When you stop playing you’re just an average Joe schmo hacker like the rest of us.

  • Steve · February 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

    HA! Speaking of being THE MAN check this quote from Tsonga:

    “When Federer enters the locker room, there is silence. You feel that the boss has just come in. He’s cool, relaxed and loves teasing us nicely.”

    quote is 2nd hand, lifted from another blog

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I remember being in the US Open locker room a few days before it started about 5-6 years ago and Federer was on the bench talking with some other players and Safin came over, he just got there, Safin came to say Hi and exchange pleasantries and I remember him saying his back was aching, like that it was too much to win the tournament with. Could tell he really liked Fed, lots of mutual friendly respect there. Another time I remember Safin chatting with Escude and Safin was not wearing a shirt and he was showing Escude all these long scratches all over his back )

  • Andrew Miller · February 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Yeah that is how it is. You leave and you thought it was about you but it was about the CONTEXT and not just you, and without the context you are no longer what you thought you were. That’s what leaving something does.

    Vince seems like he’s not serious about coaching. So all those player he could have helped are helped instead by coaches that can’t move their players beyond the last best point in their career.

    RH – to me a lot of it is that he gets bad draws. He always has to play Djokovic at slams, at least a lot of the time, or Cilic, or some other player that is just a lot better because, well, they are the top players. Not to keep saying this, but one more time: RH has a flawed game but not a flawed spirit. He’s got a lot of desire and he seems like an intelligent player. So he needs all the help he can get, because those ground strokes won’t be what wins him matches.

    In fairness, besides the supersonic serve Roddick’s best asset was intelligent play. Sure, maybe he began to push the ball. Maybe his backhand only had one glory match, vs. Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final, and never did him any favors in any other match, ever. Maybe he lost to many players at slams that he shouldn’t have (players who we have never heard from again). But look at U.S. tennis without him!

    So hey, players making poor coaching choices…karma. Some other player is benefiting. Ruthless sport…players who should be better aren’t, and other players benefit as a result, and you don’t see them complaining. They just keep advancing at tournaments instead. Tough sport.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    But you’ve got to be smart, Andrew. And RH hiring a guy by the name of Tres Davis and his father to coach him doesn’t sound smart. You’d like to see RH push a Djoko at the AO a little more than he did. He got killed, and you want him at least to be competitive like he was against Murray last year at AO.

  • Andrew Miller · February 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Dan I agree with you – a player like RH, who has the desire, isn’t doing himself any favors and his ranking suggests as much. I think there are some good coaches that don’t have the high profile, but I agree with you on RH (and DY). Surely there is some potential and hope (for both players), but with all the hype on RH right now it’s all hype and there’s not a lot of evidence backing any future breakthrough.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I’d be curious to hear what Spadea thinks about Harrison’s game and his potential and what he needs to do to fulfill it.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Scoop or Dan, didn’t Spadea work with Lansdorp to flatten out the forehand? Fish and Spadea both re-worked their groundstrokes (as did Roddick on the backhand side) so that they improved relative to ATP peers. Roddick and Fish both improved here and it made a difference, so I would think same would happen for Harrison. I won’t bring up DY, b/c DY is the opposite. He has ridiculous game. DY and RH are mirror opposites. RH has the work ethic, DY has the game. But why lament? I should just be a good fan and cheer someone else on.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Wonder if Roddick will return to the game as coach. He seems to be less bombastic than Gilbert and also appreciate other players’ skills. Agassi seems like more of a coach but Agassi doesn’t like tennis. Who knows who will stick around the game. I’d put money on Fish – nice game and has seen a lot. I think it’s hard to be a great champion and a great coach. But someone like Fish,, who was NOT a great champion but around the Gilbert-Mayotte level, could probably offer something good to other players.

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