Article in the Sacramento paper (I knew Paul would write about him)
Comeback 'kids' play in Natomas tennis tourney
Published Monday, Oct. 05, 2009
They're a combined 67 years old with 512 singles match victories at the top level of professional tennis and $8.6 million in prize money.
Both have cracked the top 20 in the world and reached the singles quarterfinals in a Grand Slam tournament.
Both have beaten Andre Agassi twice, Pete Sampras once and Roger Federer once.
And both are trying to bounce back from injuries and return to the elite ATP World Tour.
Americans Vince Spadea, 35, and Jan-Michael Gambill, 32, will play singles and team in doubles in this week's Natomas/USTA $50,000 Men's Professional Tournament at the Natomas Racquet Club.
Spadea, the second-oldest singles player in men's pro tennis behind 36-year-old Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, has been plagued by shin splints, foot tissue inflammation, bursitis in his right (playing) forearm and back problems. Ranked a career-high No. 18 in the world in 2005, he has tumbled to No. 191.
"This is my third comeback," said the philosophical Spadea, who will face Ukrainian-born American Alex Kuznetsov in the first round about 7 tonight. "It's sort of fun to challenge yourself all the time.
"I think life is about waking up in the morning and looking forward to an aspiration, an ambition that you set out for yourself. I think we're happiest when we're working toward that goal."
Gambill, meanwhile, has missed most of the past four years with severe tendinitis in both shins and his right (playing) arm. He is unranked after reaching No. 14 in 2001.
"My goal is to have a good time on the court, to have fun with my tennis," said Gambill, who will open against seventh-seeded Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday. "Being injured for four years, basically, has been a drag. It's been very hard on me mentally and (physically)."
Spadea isn't sure how long he'll continue playing.
"When it's time to move on, I'll know it," he said. "I still have a zest for competing."
Gambill, who uses two hands on both sides and is named after actor Jan-Michael Vincent, hopes to play for three more years.
"I'll be happy if I'm able to end on my terms, not my body breaking down," he said.