The Happy Herald – Sports Matters Column – Jun 1, 2006 – by 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. Murrays website is at:

South Florida can claim the biggest comeback in tennis history, because one of our very own suffered the biggest losing streak ever, then made it all the way back. Back in 2000 I kept reading about how a top tennis professional from Boca Raton, Vince Spadea, had lost yet another match … 16, 17, 18 … and the bleeding did not stop until he had reached 21, the longest losing streak in tennis history. I had opened an office in Boca Raton and instinctively knew I had to try to help.

Then one day the phone rang. It was Vince. He asked, Do you know who I am? I replied enthusiastically, Of course, when are you in town? He was in Tokyo and had just lost to his sisters boyfriend, a definite low point for a former top 20 player. Sometimes rock bottom is the needed catalyst. Vince had already broken the 21 match streak with an exciting win at Wimbledon, but the slump remained.

Vince is one of the most intelligent tennis players I have worked with. His relaxed, rapping persona disguises the serious, insightful, and thoughtful person he is. Once ranked a glorious 19, the slump left him in shambles at almost 300. We met for an evaluation and started sessions. One day over coffee, lights went off in his brain and he declared he was nowhere near ready to quit.

The fire had returned even brighter than before. After many hours of mental coaching, solid physical training, courage, and two years of grinding in the tennis minor leagues, in small towns and villages, Vince re-discovered glory. He rose to 18 (10 in Champions Race), his best ranking ever, and won his first tournament in Scottsdale in 2004. He has remained mostly in the Top 50 these past couple years. Vince stated on national television that our work helped him rediscover the fire and confidence that he had somehow lost. He encouraged others to seek mental coaching too. Thanks Vince and long live this athlete with a heart and proud owner of the biggest comeback in tennis history.

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