How many times in your life do you take a tennis lesson from someone that is incompetent or is underneath you in terms of talent or ability for $80? You should move up and take a $125 lesson from a guy that won 300 tour pro wins as oppose to the $80 no tour pro win teaching pro because he/she could not make it into ----- even the "Futures" circuit! You have to win a Futures tournament to get "three" point in the ATP/WTA rankings. $125 for a tour player that was ranked at one time 18th in the world is just like "free", bargain. Plus, this guy has personality to boot!http://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/a-vince-spadea-tennis-lesson/
A Vince Spadea Tennis Lesson
Posted by Dan Markowitz in Bios, Dan M
Vince is in town for a few days having played a pro-am at the Westchester Country Club and won it, beating Wayne Ferreira in the finals. Some of the other pros there were Murphy Jensen, who seems to show up at all these events, Richey Reneberg, Luke Jensen, Chris Guccione and Kevin Kim. It was striking to watch how hard Vince can still hit his serve and his groundies compared to Wayne F., who Vince says just plays squash every day now. But Spadea never plays, according to him, he just hits 50 serves a day, runs a little and does pushups and situps. He mentioned that Nestor won the French Open at age 40 and Vince is turning 38. He says he knows how to play so much better now that if he knew back when he was No. 18 what he knows now, he would’ve been No. 6 and made the Aussie Open finals. (I just looked it up–Ferreira is only 40 so he’s just a few years older than Vince. Vince was struck that Ferreira won more than 500 matches and won close to $10 million while Vince won only 300+ matches and made half as much. But Vince said there’s only been 80 players in the history of the game who’ve won more than 300 matches so that makes him top 80 of all time.)
“I made it half way to the finals without really knowing the right way to play,” he said.
I set him up with a lesson yesterday. It was raining in New York so we had to go to a local club I used to teach at. It was pretty interesting seeing the faces of the pros at the club when Vince Spadea walked in. He was dressed in black Prince outfit, and carrying his gold Donnay racket bag and a Power Ade and water. Tennis pros at clubs predominantly were not pro players or anything close to being pro players so when they see a real pro walk in to play or teach a lesson, it’s a big thing. And Vince is a friendly, loose, talkative guy. I asked him why he doesn’t call Sampras up and ask him to play and he said Sampras told Gimelstob, who Vince had talked to recently, that he hadn’t seen Spadea in like 10 years. “If I saw him,” Vince said, “he’d probably think I was his plumber.” Vince is funny that way. He has little ego as to his fame or lack of it.
The lesson was a 16-year-old boy who’s mother comes to my yoga studio. He had just won the Connecticut High School state championships in doubles and is a low-ranked national player. He takes lessons at Brian Barker’s club in Trumbell, Ct. Barker used to be James Blake’s coach, who Vince mentioned he holds a 6-3 career record against. Vince was laughing when he heard Barker was this young guy’s coach. He said Barker used to stand out on the court with Blake when they were in Hawaii (I guess practicing for the Challenger there), and hit Blake high slow balls into the middle of the court that Blake would again and again pummel. Vince made fun of the way Barker fed the balls, sticking his butt out and feeding a couple of ball the way Barker did in an awkward fashion (pro players are great mimics. They’re so adept at reading other players’ games and copying their form.) Vince was making the point, though, that you have to practice so many different shots even though a shot like Barker’s feed would rarely occur in a practice rally. Vince wasn’t laughing too much when he heard how much Barker charged for a lesson ($225 an hour) because I’d set the lesson up for Vince at $125. Man, think of all the dough a top junior player must spend on lessons! It’s literally astronomical. You could feed a family of four for that kind of dough, and I looked into the racquet bag of this kid–who’s mom only hopes he’ll play at a Div. III school, and there were five Babolat sticks. Not too cheap either.
Vince’s big mantra that he repeated to the kid and drilled him on was: timing with correct technique. Intensity through the ball, using the wrist only at the end of the stroke to finish. Vince said he learned after years of playing and experimenting that you have to drive the racket head to your target and only at the end finish with a twist.
“Through into the corner,” Vince repeated, drilling feeds at the student. “The ball goes where you tell it. The first goal is the racquet head out to target. The footwork’s important to back it up. Intense racquet speed. Racket has to finish at the target. I want ultimate speed every time. If you’re not able to do that, take a water break and come back. Back and through and finish. A lot of players think they’re back and they’re not. You got to force yourself to get it back.
“All this stuff, if I’d put it into practice I would’ve been No. 6 instead of No. 18. Finish with your wrist. Wrist keeps the ball in the court. Tough part about tennis is every shot has a different technique. I’m not going to hit a low short ball the same way I hit a shot from the baseline or a high arcing ball the way I’d hit a low driving ball. Great tennis players can run fast and manipulate their rackets fast.”
I was struck the way Vince was no-nonsense on the court. He’s usually a bit of a card, but once he started teaching the lesson, other than to keep up a dialog with me on the side of the court, he didn’t stop for water breaks and he kept the feeds constant, difficult and moving. Once in a while, he’d scold the young player, and sometimes, even if he missed, if Vince liked the way he attacked the shot, he’d praise him. After a while, he said, “Let’s play a game to five and baseline points ensued with shots zinging back and forth usually with Spadea ending it with a searing backhand winner. Vince is hitting a one-handed backhand slice now that he calls his Federer shot. “Just think how much better I’d have been if I hit this shot when I was playing.”
The young guy’s mother was impressed. She said she’d never seen a lesson given with that kind of energy and attention to detail. Guess I should bump Vince’s lesson price up to $225. Anyway, I had to leave before the lesson ended because I had to get up to the yoga studio. But Vince got a ride back to the station and went into NYC. He was supposed to stay at my house last night, but I didn’t hear from him so maybe he’s out on Broadway now, a tennis pro for hire.
If you want to take a lesson with Vince, you can buy his six-set tennis instruction dvd that encapsulate the Spadea philosophy and hitting technique. Just go to: http://vincespadeadvds.com/.
Back · through and finish--Spadea Ain't Afraid Of Ya