Rapping Spadea Is a Tennis Poet

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 2, 2007

In a subdued voice that understates the candor flowing from his mouth, Vincent Spadea speaks about the many avenues of his life.

Vinny Spade, I'm a renegade

My motto is ain't afraid

Five years ago, Spadea made a decision. A member of the ATP tour since 1993, he was tired of conforming to the country-club stereotype that accompanies tennis players. He wanted to be South Florida. He wanted to be hip-hop. He wanted to be Vinny Spade.

"I've always had it in me," Spadea said. "I just started doing interviews and getting that reputation as the guy who can twist words together."

That reputation has evolved around the credo by which he lives. Spadea has become the player who wears his emotions on his shirt. And his hat. And his shorts. In fact, his likeness is stitched on all three.

More telling than the clothes he wears on the court, though, are the words he speaks -- and writes -- off it.

I'll penetrate tennis culture

Bring you a lot closer

To the feeling of a tennis player poet

Spadea admits tennis is not at its zenith. But the reach of the game is improving, he said, and the catalyst is the culture he calls his own.

"Our popularity is getting well known, and in America it is starting to gain ground," he said. "It feels like there is a lot of work to do, but at the same time, we're starting to penetrate the eyes of the casual fan. It's penetrated pop culture a bit with some of our icons."

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