Breaking Into Spadea’s Break Point
by Lynn Berenbaum | September 27th, 2006, 6:37 pm

Break Point: The Secret Diary of a Pro Tennis Player
by Vince Spadea with Dan Markowitz
ECW Press
ISBN 1-55022-729-7
Published July 2006 – Hardcover – 277 pages – $24.95

Here we are in the peaceful lull after the US Open, when everything seems to wind down for the American tennis fan, and we dread the sounds of indoor tennis domes being inflated around the northern part of the country. It’s a good time to catch up on your reading, and I recently finished reading Vince Spadea’s book, Break Point. You might recall that I was given a copy of this book while I was blogging at Legg Mason, so I’ve been feeling semi-obligated to pony up my impressions.

Quite a bit has been made of Spadea’s so-called ‘tell-all,’ due in part to James Blake, who wasn’t at all amused about Spadea’s remarks about him. It’s true that Spadea takes a few swings at Blake, with a story about gamesmanship and parceling out random lines throughout like, “I got so much press attention I felt like James Blake.” The truth is that Spadea smack talks a lot of players in this book, but he heaps out some praise too. The sad fact is that so much of the time reading this book is spent drawing conclusions based on half-stories that it’s hard to keep up.

While Break Point is neither thought-provoking nor ground-breaking, it does provide a very small glimpse from inside the tight-lipped tennis world. It touches on issues like the role that parents have on the tour, the relationships with agents, coaches, sponsorships, endorsements, and the media; the constant travel, the importance of a healthy diet, some of the training and discipline that goes into becoming a great player, as well as some of the mental aspects of the game. Spadea writes not only about his wins, but his inferiorities about losses.

Unfortunately, more has been made about this book for the locker room talk than anything else. If you’re looking for the Jose Conseco book on tennis, rest assured that this isn’t it. This notion begs the obvious question for readers: If you’re looking for a good tell-all about the tour, do you think that Spadea is the guy to tell it? Granted he’s been around for a long time, but is he the “inside man”? Let’s face facts: Vince Spadea has a few idiosyncrasies. He’s proficient at creating crappy rap lyrics and wearing his own gear adorned with a sparkly ‘S.’ He doesn’t have the whole portfolio or the persona to be the Dennis Rodman of tennis, and being a self-proclaimed loner puts him out of the running. As any lawyer will tell you, he’s just not a witness with veracity. Here’s what Vince had to say about why he wrote it:

I’m starting to hear a few comments from the other players concerning what I’m writing. I’m not worried about what they think. I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut and I’ve got a book deal. Hey, more power to my publisher for buying a book that is going to provide a true representation of who I am and what the pro tennis tour is all about. I believe in being moral and telling the truth, so the idea that I shouldn’t write honestly about what I hear, see, and think about the other players and the game is nonsense. We all have an opinion, and this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. But unless I start winning again, no one’s going to care what I write about anyway.

Somewhere between truth and opinion is perception. This book is unfortunately riddled with so many inaccuracies and so many inconsistencies that you have to wonder if the venerable ECW Press employs any editors.* Hats off to Dan Markowitz who presumably took on the formidable task of deciphering Spadea’s stream of consciousness, no doubt written on the back of draw sheets and cocktail napkins worldwide. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement. ADHEREL

It’s safe to say that if you’re reading this, you love the game of tennis. There were no grand revelations or insights in this book that you couldn’t glean out of a decent tennis periodical, or even a great news site like Tennis-X. Instead what you’ll find is a poorly written book that probably once had great promise.

Much like its protagonist.

* I’d also like to thank the publisher for the great index, without which I never could have written this review. (Oh wait, there is no index. Nevermind.)

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15 Comments for Breaking Into Spadea’s Break Point

eddy Says:

Nice review. Guess I will wait for the movie in that case.

Erik Says:

I disagree with the review. I found the book interesting from the standpoint of a frustrated, aging, journeyman tennis pro trying desperately to hold on to a dream. The events he describes seem accurate, and not one sided, but they are a sidebar to the overall story of the book. More than anything, you feel his fear that it all could end without his promise realized.

Harris Says:

Lynn Berenbaum…so he didn’t write a thriller novel for you. What tennis books did you publish recently? Why does everything you read have to be so intriguing and perfect. Since when is mentioning that a player is receiving attention like Blake, a negative comment. One more thing is I never have heard a women or met a women that can talk about tennis with true insight and understanding of the mens game. I mean just look at the womens tour….what a joke. You have 8 players that can play and rest blow. So when Vince writes a book about the tour, I don’t expect you to love it since it is only the truth without a pound a lipstick, no matter how much it bores you. Go back to your Danielle Steele novels.

Hunter H. Cashdollar Says:

I agree with Erik. I also found it interesting from the same perspective. Hunter H. Cashdollar

Hunter Cashdollar Says:

…And I did not think he was all that harsh on Blake. Don’t know why the comments upset him. Hunter Cashdollar

Rex Says:

I liked the book. It’s true that there wasn’t that much insider dirt.. ah, gossip, as one would think. And it doesn’t delve that deeply into how tennis is run. But the book delivers what Spadea promises: an insight into the life of a tennis player, one of the non-stars, who has struggled to build a successful career. That it’s a little bit wacky with a stream-of-consciousness style to it is part of the story. Spadea says there are a lot of “weird cats” in tennis, which is an insulated world with a lot of extreme characters in it, and clearly he is one of them. Maybe he’s too hard on himself. I think anyone who can say they were the 19th best in the world at anything can be proud.

David Says:

I thought the book was very entertaining and informative–and I have no idea what James Blake is so upset about.

Davita Says:

Lynn, I think you were WAY too generous. The entire book reads like his side of an extended therapy session – the magnified highs and lows, the casual dismissal of dad’s verbal abuse, the doubtful ‘pride’ in his loner status. Whether or not you accept his view as “the truth,” its impossible to separate that from the evidence that his view seems to be quite warped. This could have been sad reading, but Spadea purposely makes it difficult to empathize with him. Its too bad – could have been a whole other book if you could feel something for him other than bewilderment.

christine walker Says:

so I am interested in reading this book but don’t want to fork out the $25 bucks for it.. lol. I’m not THAT much of a fan of Vince.. in fact I’m no fan at all.. call it morbid curiosity. So if anyone wants to ditch their copy feel free to send it to me :)

2210 South Kinnickinnic Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207

Ophra Says:

christine walker, what are libraries for?

John Messenger Says:

I liked the book.

Christine said “So if anyone wants to ditch their copy feel free to send it to me.”

It’s in the mail.

Destiny Says:

Hey John!

If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a copy 2. Can’t get it over here!

Would be cool.


andrea Says:

From a tennis perspective, the book does shed some light on the inner machintations of the men’s tour but it came at a price of having to cringe at all the in between stories of Vince trying to pick up women while losing in the first two rounds at whatever tournament he was in.

loser redux.

Dawna Says:

If anyone knows Vince, they will realize what a honest and sincere person he is. He was given the opportunity to write about his life and career and he did this based on his personal views. Lynn Berenbaum, what else would you expect from his writings?

West Boca Massive Says:

James Blake is a fancy Harvard punk.

Scoreboard James. Scoreboard.

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