Monday, October 3, 2011

Tennis Read: Breaking Back by James Blake

Having a bad day? Imagine being in a serious, almost-paralyzing accident, losing your father to cancer and being afflicted with zoster (shingles) which is a painful and blistering skin rash! When you’re feeling glum, crack open James Blake’s book, Breaking Back – a sincere, “easy read” autobiography filled with positive life lessons like the value of good friends and cherished family members, the honor in hard work and the importance of keeping your head in the game.

James Blake turned pro in 1999 and had some good years on the USTA tour before his critical accident in 2004, in Rome. After this, his illness and his father’s passing, James came back to rank among the world’s top ten in men’s singles tennis.

The title of the book is significant. James explains it like this:
“If you lose the serve, you’ve been ‘broken,’ and unless you can break back by winning a game on your opponent’s serve, and regain equal footing, then it’s impossible to win the set. One of the most telling marks of your character on the court is whether or not you can break back, because you need to pull it off when your confidence is down and your opponent’s is up.”
In a nutshell, that’s what this book is all about. It honors the idea of breaking back or gracefully getting back up when life knocks you down. Tennis is a metaphor for life – it’s played solo, you ultimately have to rely on yourself, you must solve your own problems, and you only have yourself to blame.

James writes openly about his game. He says, “…after talent, health and conditioning, confidence is about the most important thing a player can possess.” Blake’s father who is a powerful presence in the book is the source of James Blake’s confidence, as it should be with fathers and sons. A favorite motto of the elder Blake was: “You can’t control your talent but you can control your level of effort.”

This candid and sincere story is highly recommended – after you’ve read it, you will find yourself pulling it out whenever you’re feeling a bit down! Find this great read in hardback for $17.98 on Amazon.

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