Richey Details Drug Use in New Book
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Cliff Richey, the former No. 1-ranked American tennis player and hero of the 1970 championship-winning U.S. Davis Cup team, admits in a new book his continued use of drugs and a life largely lived suffering from depression.
Richey’s drug of choice?
In the new book “ACING DEPRESSION: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match,” due out in April, Richey calls depression among adult males “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with Richey’s oldest daughter, Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) is a first-hand account of Richey’s life and tennis career that provides readers with a real-life drama on and off the tennis court. Depression is the constant theme, from the genetics and history of his family, to the tensions of his professional tennis career, to the stresses of being a retired athlete.
Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 U.S. ranking. However, his tantrums and boorish behavior simply served as a mask for his internal struggle with clinical depression. During his darkest days, Richey would place black trash bags over the windows of his house, stay in bed all day and cry. With the same determination that earned him the nickname “The Bull,” Richey fought against clinical depression that was not diagnosed until just before his 50th birthday during a routine visit to the skin doctor. Since his happenstance diagnosis, Richey has steadily been taking antidepressant drugs that have greatly improved his quality of life and moved him to become an advocate for mental health, speaking at numerous events and gatherings across the country.
“I have been given so many second chances in my life,” Richey says in the book. “The beautiful thing is that in recovery, almost everything in your life becomes a second chance. Hope is the foundation of our great country of America. Hope is such a driver of the normal human condition. The sum total of my awful disease was ‘loss of hope.’ That’s the truly awesome thing about recovery: once you come back, your whole life after that feels like a second chance.”
Through 10 years of recovery, with the aid of antidepressant medication, he began to feel well for the first time in his life. The fight is not over, he says, but he encourages those suffering from depression: “never give up.” ACING DEPRESSION lends a personal face to an epidemic disease that afflicts one in 20 Americans. Penned with passion and candor, this memoir is a deeply human story of nightmare and redemption.
Richey won both of his singles matches in the 5-0 U.S. victory over West Germany in the 1970 Davis Cup final, while he beat out rivals Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith to win the first-ever Grand Prix world points title the precursor to the modern day ATP rankings. He won his second U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in 1970, while also won titles in his career at the Canadian Open, the South African Open, the U.S. Indoors and the Western Open (modern day Cincinnati Masters 1000 event). At the 1970 Pacific Coast Championships at the Berkeley Tennis Club in Berkeley, Calif., he earned the No. 1 U.S. ranking when he beat Smith in a fifth-set tie-breaker, where both players had simultaneous match point in a sudden-death nine-point tie-breaker at 4-4. He also reached the semifinals of both the 1970 French and U.S. Opens, losing a famous match to Zeljko Franulovic of Yugoslavia in the French semifinals, despite holding match points and leading by two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth set. He and his sister Nancy, a former French and Australian singles champion, are regarded by some as the best brother-sister duo in tennis history.
Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion and a friend of Richey, wrote the Foreword for ACING DEPRESSION. Writes Connors, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression — which has affected him personally — and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn — learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”
The book has also received acclaim and endorsements in the mental health community.
Says Jackie Shannon, the Past President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Real men do get depression — even champion athletes. Cliff’s story is an inspiration to all those who are battling mental illnesses and a wake-up call to the public.” Says Lynn Lasky Clark, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Texas, “This straightforward, honest and intensely personal account of Cliff Richey’s experiences with tennis and depression is truly inspirational. Cliff Richey approaches his recovery from depression with great passion and determination. He provides hope and understanding through this powerful memoir.” Says Lynn Rutland, the Executive Director of MHMR (Mental Health, Mental Retardation), “The Richeys inspired a whole generation of kids to believe in themselves and strive for excellence. Cliff’s story gives people hope when life has dealt them darkness. The battle for the mind is one that Cliff will never lose through lack of effort as he offers insight into his own struggles and victories. His story will continue to make a difference for those suffering with depression.”
Hilaire Richey Kallendorf is the oldest daughter of Cliff Richey and an Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. She is the author of two books, Exorcism and Its Texts: Subjectivity in Early Modern Literature of England and Spain (University of Toronto Press, 2003) and Conscience on Stage: The Comedia as Casuistry in Early Modern Spain (University of Toronto Press, 2007). She has also published over a dozen articles on such topics as self-exorcism, piety and pornography, ghosts, Taíno religious ceremonies, and Christian humanism in the Renaissance.
ACING DEPRESSION is published by New Chapter Press - also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun - Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at NewChapterMedia.com.
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