Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cocky Tennis Pro Meets His Match in Movie Role

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cocky Tennis Pro Meets His Match in Movie Role

Article excerpt

JOHN Emery Schneider's mom has just one question:

Is her boy gonna make it in the movies?

There aren't many movie stars in De Soto, where she lives. In fact, her boy John is already the most famous movie person she knows.

John has a juicy part in a movie with Martin Sheen, Valerie Perrine and tennis pro Vince Van Patten.

But these days, being in a movie isn't enough. The movie has to go somewhere.

Now John's mom is wondering if her son's movie is going to live up to its name: "The Break."

"The Break" is about tennis. John made his mark in St. Louis tennis. He grew up in Florissant. He trained at Sunset Tennis Center and Creve Coeur Racquet & Paddle Club. He was the Missouri Class 1A-3A singles champ for Rosary High School in 1984 and was ranked No. 1 in the five-state Missouri Valley Tennis Association boys 18-and-under division.

Now he's a tennis pro at Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa. That's where he was spotted by Vince Van Patten, who gave him a part in the movie.

Let's let Vince describe his movie. After all, "I produced and wrote it," he said.

"It's Rocky on the tennis circuit. It's about a kid who fights his way through the satellite circuit, the bush league, the proving ground for young tennis players. We shot the whole thing in Florida, where a lot of the circuits are. It was real sweat, real heat and real players and John is one of them.

"The father, Martin Sheen, is a bookmaker," Van Patten said. "He doesn't believe in his son. I play this bum of a coach who's living out of my car. To pay off a gambling debt, the father has me baby-sit his son for the summer."

The sweet young kid has to go up against a nasty mean tennis player. That's our John.

"John was teaching at the tennis academy," Van Patten said. "We were walking around and we saw him shouting, `Move your feet! Faster! Harder!' We said he was perfect for Brock."

Even John's mom says he was perfect for the part. "He's always been cocky and tall and blond.

"He did just fine," she said, proudly. "He didn't seem real nervous, but the part was so familiar."

Her son came off covered with star dust. Some of it rubbed off on his family. Not many folks in De Soto, or St. Louis, for that matter, get to tell stories like these:

"Johnny called me and said, `I had dinner with Martin Sheen. We got wings at the commissary and ate them in Martin's trailer.'

"The whole family went down to Coconut Grove, Fla., for the opening Aug. 31," said John's mom, Kathleen. "The movie was showing at tons of theaters down there."

Naturally, John's mom wanted to get her son's movie in his home city.

"I called the theaters around here, to see if we could get it in St. …

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