Sports Matters -Dec 1, 2006 – John F. Murray, Ph.D. – From his office in Palm Beach, Murray provides both counseling and performance enhancement services to athletes and executives. He is author of the best-selling “Smart Tennis and a frequent speaker. Please inquire at: 561-596-9898 or Dr. Murray’s website is at:

I would like to share with you an interesting and exciting recent experience.

As a tennis coach in the 1980s I worked with many players to improve their technique and strategy. Over the past 16 years, however, the emphasis has shifted to developing positive mindsets, improving focus and setting goals. A sport psychologist rarely gets the kind of opportunity I had last week.

Vince Spadea is a longtime sport psychology client, ATP Tour Champion, Davis Cup player, Olympian and former #18 ranked player. He is also a very strong public advocate for mental coaching. He had the longest recorded losing streak in tennis history and then made the biggest comeback.

Vince was preparing for an $75,000 Challenger tournament in Nashville when he discovered that his regular coach had medical problems and could not travel. During our weekly session Vince out of the blue asks “would you like to coach me this week in Nashville?Since many of my clients are by telephone, I replied “why not? Off we flew.

It was an exciting week of work, on and off the courts, setting up practice partners and arranging courts, running small errands, discussing strategy and technique, throwing in the mental coaching as a bonus, and helping encourage one of America’s best. We ate meals together, and I enjoyed seeing his personality in action. He has a new book out that everyone should read about the inside scoop of the pro tour called “Break Point.

I saw, as I have many times before, how amazingly tough this veteran player is. He came back from 4-1 in the final set to win his match opener. I experienced firsthand what it is like to be the pro tennis coach for a player who has beaten Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. I am now undefeated in my career record of coaching top 20 players. Dont look to hire me as your tennis coach soon, just call for sport psychology help. This was a rare event and fun change of pace. I saw exactly what it is feels like to be a Jimmy Connors or Brad Gilbert for a week. A slightly different role … but similar too!

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.