As a youngster, James had scoliosis, a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side, and may also be rotated.
I've been trying to watch as much of the U.S. Open as possible and I must say, you're doing a great job so far. Keep it up! I think you've got a big chance of winning a Grand Slam!
Anyway, I'm a sophomore in high school, preparing to start my second season of tennis. I've been practicing everyday and I've played matches with numerous players from the neighboring cities and towns. 2 years ago, I was told that I had a mild case of scoliosis and that it wasn't serious enough to need anything. A week ago, I was told that it had gotten progressively worse. The doctors don't seem to know what the cause is, although my parents and I seem to think that it's because my left leg is longer than the other. I've had excruciating pain in my left shoulder, cramps in my left leg, and strains and pain in my back. You've mentioned in a reply to an e-mail that you had to wear a back brace through high school. Was there anything else you had to do in order to help correct the problems you had with the scoliosis, and did quitting tennis ever cross your mind during those times?
kristen, i hope you are able to continue to play tennis. i wore a brace all through high school, otherwise i just tried to do a lot of strengthening and flexibility exercises. i was told to keep my stomach and back as strong as possible to try to prevent the curve from progressing. i never thought of quitting tennis unless the pain forced me to, or the curve got worse and i would have to get the surgery to repair it. but neither of those has happened yet, but it is still a fear for me that it could happen at some point. i just try to keep a positive attitude and keep up with my exercises. good luck to you.
How about telling us about an interesting place you have visited, a book you have read, a unique thing you have done (ie, playing tennis on an airplane wing) ? Any special charities?
Susan Burkhalter, Collierville, Tennessee
for an interesting place i've
visited, i'd have to say rome has been one of the most exciting places i've
been. all of the sights there are just incredible. and the food was amazing,
i was ordering about 5 meals a day there. as for books that i've read, my favorite
book is "days of grace" by arthur ashe. it's an autobiography and
since he's a role model of mine, i was extremely interested in it. i really
like biographies because i think those true stories are even more exciting than
fiction. the last book i read
was "a beautiful mind" about john nash. i haven't seen the movie yet, but i thought the book was pretty interesting and a good story. i have two special charities that i hold very dear to me. the first one is the harlem junior tennis program. it's where i learned how to play tennis. the program is all volunteer, and all of the equipment is donated or purchased with donations. the program is very positive to keep kids off of the streets, and it also includes a homework club to help kids do better in school. i still do an
exhibition there every year and my father still volunteers there consistently. the second charity is the shriners hospital for crippled children. when i was growing up i was diagnosed with scoliosis. that is a curvature of the spine and it is a crippling disorder in extreme cases. in my case, i was forced to wear a back brace all through high school. if i had gone to a conventional hospital for all the treatment it would have cost my parents upwards of 10,000 dollars i think. and they couldn't have afforded that, so we went to the shriners and it was all free. i've since donated money to both charities and i'm in the plans of organizing a fundraiser to help both places that helped me get to where i am.
Hi James - I've enjoyed watching
you play since I saw you in the NCAA finals a couple of years ago in Athens,
GA, and have followed your career since then. I have some questions about your
conditioning program described in the recent Tennis magazine.
First, how many 200's and 400's do you do, how do you combine them, how fast do you run them and how frequently?
Second, what is your routine for your abs and back (I have scoliosis too, and have had trouble with lower back pain)
my workout's vary depending on what kind of shape i am in at the time and what kind of workout i have already done that day on the court. but as for the 400's and 200's, it's usually around 3 or 4 400's and maybe 6 200's. but then there are other aspects of the workout like oncourt agility drills or shorter sprints as well. for the abs and back, i just do as much as possible. in the morning i always do crunches, obliques, and then "superman" exercises for my back. good luck to you with the scoliosis.
Hello James! I was just down at
the US Open and got to see you play for the first time in person. Your first
round match was wonderful to watch and it was so great to see you practice with
your brother Thomas. My entire family was at the Open and every time we would
see you, we would say to one another, "what a classy, genuine, and all
around good guy that James Blake is." You really have everyone in New York
and the US pulling for you. Also when I was down there I heard for the first
time that you have scoliosis. I have it, as well, and I had to wear a back brace
for several years. Luckily I was in a Boston Brace so I was able to stay active
while I was in it. I was wondering if yours was a Milwaukee Brace or Boston
Brace? And how much it restricted you from activities? Your a real role model
and I look up to you very much. Good luck with the with the Open and the rest
of the year. All the Best,
elizabeth, my brace was a boston brace, just like yours. it restricted me so that i really couldn't do too much while i was in the brace. i had to just try to be extremely active for the six hours i wasn't in the brace. that would be the time when i was training for tennis and working out. thanks for your support and good luck with the scoliosis.
Watching tennis is so addicting!!
I've followed the big tournaments for a number years. I'm finally able to differentiate
between strokes, player's styles, and follow the lingo. For the longest time
I could not tell when a player "ran around their back-hand" to hita
forehand. I saw you do it the other day and I was able to call it! I was excited.
When I was young my parents tried to get me involved in tennis, but I was
not interested, I went to camps and everything. Now I want to take lessons, and I don't have the time!!
I have a couple of questions I
hope you have time
1) Does the tour stop in the Chicagoland area?
I'm a therapeutic massage therapy
student. So I have a
couple of questions pertaining to how massage is
incorporated into your training.
2) Is massage a part of your regimen?
If so how often
and what are the benefits?
3) Do therapists travel with the tour?
Thanks for your time! I enjoy
watching you play! I
also like the graphics on your web page.
Quiana L. Sargeant
quiana, i'm glad you're able to
follow tennis better now, that's great to hear that we're making new fans. unfortunately,
i don't stop in the chicagoland area for the tour. i guess the closest stop
would be cincinnati for me. there used to be a smaller tournament in winnetka
that i would play, but i don't think that's on the schedule anymore, it's too
bad because i liked it there. as for massage, i get them pretty frequently on
tour. there are usually a few massage therapists at each tour stop. i find it
effective in combating fatigued muscles and helping flexibility. i specifically need to get them often because my back needs to be kept loose because of my scoliosis.
I just wanted to say that I had the pleasure of watching you at Legg Mason Tennis Classic in DC a few weeks ago. I was fortunate to watch you at the Semi-Finals w/ Agassi and the Finals w/ Paradorn Srichaphan. I have to say that I have never felt so much excitement and suspense before. I was completely on the edge of my seat! You played exceptionally well, and you have a fan for life.
I was touched by the kind words you spoke at the end of the tournament. The obvious respect you have for your trainer and your agent was sincerely revealed. You seem grounded and grateful for all that life has given you.
I wish you all the best in the world and I will be watching all your matches. I am so happy for your win.
PS I read in a magazine that you have Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)...as do I....Have you ever tried Pilates?
tina, i have never tried pilates, but i have not talked to any specialists who recommend this specifically for scoliosis. basically i just make sure to do my stomach and back exercises every day to keep them as strong as possible. i also try to stretch a lot more than i used to and get frequent massages. i think all of this helps the curve from getting worse and being extremely painful.