In 13 seasons on the professional tennis tour, Vince Spadea never managed to fulfill the promise he once showed as a top junior player in the early 1990s. But the years spent whacking balls against the game's superstars at tournaments from Melbourne, Australia, to New York have bestowed him with a few credentials of note: nearly $5 million in career earnings, unrivaled status as the best aging white rapper on the ATP tour and a unique vantage point for revealing "the inner workings of a pro player's mind," as proclaimed by the dust jacket of his book, "Break Point: The Secret Diary of a Pro Tennis Player."
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"Break Point" succeeds in that regard. And in doing so, it also reveals the folly of casting professional athletes, however admirable their on-court effort, as universally sound role models.
Spadea, 32, a Chicago native currently ranked 84th in the world, chronicles his slog through the 2005 season in a breezy 273 pages. Along the way, he lifts the curtain on a private subculture in which the pecking order among male tennis players is determined by their world ranking and the cup size of the blonde on their arm.
Readers won't come away with a better understanding of how to hit an inside-out forehand or the genius of Roger Federer's game, but they will learn that Spadea finds the Swiss to be "very humble and respectful to everyone." As a bonus, single male readers may also benefit from Spadea's five-step program, culled from years of field-tested trials, for picking up women around the world. He calls it, "The Da Vince Code," and it details the do's and don'ts under subheadings that include "appearance," "conviction," "the approach" and "hooking up."