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By Randy Walker



It was the summer of 2008 when I received the voice mail.

The voice on the other end of the phone was serious with a Texas drawl. The man identified himself as Cliff Richey, who said he was calling on the recommendation of InsideTennis publisher Bill Simons. He wanted to talk to me about my book publishing company New Chapter Press publishing his memoir.

I knew of Cliff as one of the great American tennis players in the late 1960s, early 1970s. I had ballboyed for him during the annual senior tennis tournament in my hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut and I even had his autograph.

When we spoke, Cliff told me of his life and recovery from crippling depression and that he wanted to become more of a mental health advocate to help people who are also stricken with this terrible disease and condition.

He felt that the story told in his book would do a lot of good to help people better understand the disease and help lessen the stigma of people admitting they have depression.

“I want it say on the grave stone that he was a great tennis player and he was advocate for mental health,” Cliff said that day.

We eventually published his book that we titled “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” in 2010 and now, Cliff, a two-time member of the winning U.S. Davis Cup team, is now a two-time author with the publishing of his second book “Your Playbook For Beating Depression” written with Mary Garrison.

Cliff and I have discussed the concept of this book for years as it is a book that can be of immediate help to a person in distress with depression. “Acing Depression” is more of a memoir, with ‘depression’ being a supporting character, per se, in the story of Cliff’s life. While “Acing Depression” gives people a better understanding of what depression is and how one can have it treated through the life of Cliff, people who urgently need help should read “Playbook For Beating Depression.” If you feel that you or someone you know may be on the verge of doing something drastic as a result of depression, you need to get them this book as soon as possible.

According to statistics, one in 20 people in the United States suffer from depression. Most of us know at least 20 people, so, chances are, one of them has depression. They probably suffer from depression and you don’t even know it.

I made a new friend within the last year in Vero Beach, Florida, where I spend a good deal of time outside of New York and where I run the USTA Pro Circuit event in town. While meeting this new friend for beers and burgers last December, he told me of some setbacks in his personal life, which I tried to help him through and started to present the positive side of what can be done. Three weeks later, he committed suicide. People said that he suffered from depression, which I didn’t know nor did he indicate during our brief friendship. If I had only known that he had this disease, I would have put him in touch with Cliff and given him an advance copy of “Your Playbook For Beating Depression.” It might have saved his life.

Two other “social media” friends of mine posted that they also suffer from the disease. I sent them both copies of “Acing Depression” to help them understand their condition and will also send them the new book.

Shortly after Cliff received his fresh-off-the-press copies of “Your Playbook For Beating Depression” he texted me and told me that he learned of a person in his circle who suffered from depression. Cliff found him crying his eyes out, just like he described himself in “Acing Depression.” Cliff gave him a copy of the book and hopefully this will help him with guidance on how to treat his condition.

Since meeting Cliff, I have a better understanding of depression. It’s a disease, like cancer or heart disease. You just can’t shake the feeling of gloom. It’s not something you can just “suck up” or “get happy” and get perspective. It’s a terrible malaise and feeling of distress and fear that you can’t get over. Cliff is one first people of celebrity to stand up and show that there should not be a stigma of admitting you have depression. You can be a macho man and still admit you have this condition and that you can publicly seek help. It is interesting to see other celebrities come out and say they have depression, most notably Bruce Springsteen. You can’t get much more macho than the hard-nosed Texan Cliff Richey and “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen.

Through the grapevine and through gossip, it has gotten back to me that I am taking advantage of people’s depression to make money and hawk a book, which is completely laughable. If people only realized how much I bust my butt on all these books I publish via New Chapter Press  just to break even. Eighty-five percent of books published lose money. It’s only through my creativity that I don’t lose my shirt on these books. Cliff’s books, especially “Your Playbook For Beating Depression,” are different. This is about saving lives.

I’m very proud of Cliff and his courage and his efforts to draw more attention to depression. He has already saved lives and I know he will continue to save more.

Cliff Richey

Cliff Richey

World Tennis Magazine on iTunes

About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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