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Posted: Wednesday November 25, 2009 10:24PM; Updated: Thursday November 26, 2009 1:59AM
Jon Wertheim

Mailbag (cont.)

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Andy Roddick was one of the first top players to voice support for Andre Agassi.
Phillipe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Not so much a question but a comment - how could anyone think that there is a specific event that triggered David Foster Wallace's suicide? If nothing else, that question vis a vis Federer's loss proves how far mental health advocates have to go before folks understand how profound mental illness can be, that it is simply a response to a temporary problem.
-- Adrienne Martini, Oneonta, N.Y.

• Agree wholeheartedly. And it's especially bad in the sports world. I cringe when I think of the former Mets pitcher who clearly suffered depression, yet his condition was spun as "withdrawal symptoms after he gave up chewing tobacco." One of the most poignant quotes I've ever gotten: Ricky Williams, the NFL running back (and a huge tennis fan) once told me that when he injured his toe, the medical attention was immediate and non-stop. When he complained of a "hurt soul," he was told to strap on his helmet and stop being a p----. If seen on an MRI, it's real; if not, you're a head case.

Discuss: Apart from genetics, some of the great risk factors for mental illness are stress and social instability (and head injuries!). I would contend that tennis players -- no guaranteed salaries, financial stress, individual sport, immense travel, lack of a sense of place -- would be prime candidates.

Are there any top players that spoke out in support of Agassi after the drug-related revelations? Irresponsible comments from top players are getting old. I need someone new to root for.
-- Sean, Tallahassee, Fla.

Andy Roddick was quick out of the gate supporting Agassi. Agassi mentioned that Courier and Justin Gimelstob supported him as well. (I'm told some players had been tipped off for weeks about the book's contents; others were totally blind-sided.) Here's another link to John Newcombe, who, I thought was particularly eloquent in defending Agassi.

I'm getting tired of answering my friends' questions about Andre Agassi, so I'm sure you must be truly sick of the topic. That said, there's one angle to this story that I've wondered about. During his final year on the tour, Agassi was treated as a great hero, beloved by fans and players alike. Was the reaction to his book really a response to just his drug revelation or is there really less love for him among his peers and among current players than one might have been led to believe?
-- Coenraad Groenewald, Hoofddorp, Netherlands

• I agree that the goodwill Agassi engendered during his farewell tour has evaporated fast. When he walked into locker room after his final match at the U.S. match, he got a standing O from his contemporaries. Now, they're out for blood. Talking with players and coaches, I'm hearing three basic lines of complaint. The quotes are mine:

1) "This WADA drug policy is a huge pain ... We're tested all the time, often intrusively, and we there's a paperwork error we can Wickmayered. It's bad enough as it is. When you come out of the woodwork and it only makes things more onerous for us." (See: Nadal, et al.)

2) "Dude, you took food off my table. You should have been suspended-you admit as much. And when you, instead, played and enjoyed an unsullied reputation, you robbed others of prize money, points, appearance fees, endorsement lucre."

3) "If I catch my daughter kissing her boyfriend, I'm not mad about the kissing. I'm mad because I wonder what else was going on. Now that Agassi has aired this bit of dirty laundry, I wonder what other misdeeds were swept under the rug."

"Are you trying to say 30 Rock is better than The Office"
-- Dan, Maryland

• " I am. Without reservation. " I can only assume that you are talking about the US version and not the UK version :-)

• You know, I think I would still put "30 Rock" above the British office.

Shots Miscellany:

• Nice "get" by Dan Kaplan of Sports Business Journal re: USTA salaries. A lot of you are writing in expressing outrage and we can discuss next week. I'm told Arlen Kantarian's $9 million haul in 2008 is a bit misleading, as it included a balloon payment when he was effectively terminated. Still, clearly, it's a staggering salary, especially for a non-profit.

Dustin Chad Alligood of Perry, Ga., notes: After his loss to Del Potro, Fernando Verdasco's 2009 record against the top 10 stands at 2-13. Against everyone else, he's 51-11.

• The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced that U.S. Air Force Academy head women's tennis coach Kim Gidley has been named the national winner of the USTA/ITA Community Outreach Award and Christine Davis, the women's head tennis coach at Smith College is the national winner of the USTA/ITA Campus Recreation Award. Both coaches will be honored by the ITA and the USTA on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the ITA Coaches Convention being held at the Naples Grande Resort and Spa in Naples, Fla., during the ITA Welcoming and Awards banquet.

• Admit it, you miss this music:

• Tennis books make a great Christmas gift. Check out what Alan Chalmers is offering.

• Been asked to spread the word, so ....New York readers, here are the details of the sports writing panel this coming Monday:

Calla W of Durham, N.C.: Look-a-like of the day/week/whatever - Rafa & the guy in that annoying Mickey D's commercial?

• This is fantastic Federer video: Seriously, how endearingly HUMAN is he?


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