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Rene Lacoste: The Crocodile

Why “le croc?” “The machine” is a better nickname. That’s what Tilden called me because I sent every ball back like the ball machine I would invent in 1947. Invented the steel racquet, too, much later. From wood to steel. Another machine like those human beings in modernist paintings of Fernand Leger. I was called […]

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Vitas Gerulaitis: In Memoriam

Vitas practiced his weaknesses for hours on end: the second serve, cocaine. This week’s writing challenge: describe his hair. The result, a failure: lion locks Lithuanian in its riding of the rolling level underneath it within it surfers girls waves omg dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon* I want to touch it see it live again please live please […]

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Callen Cup 2022: The Arkansas Men’s 65s Team

On the court before us, Doug Stursma (above) is playing Keith Richardson (once #63 in the ATP World Rankings) at #2 singles. We call it getting Stursmad when you lose to Doug, who at 68 years old hits every shot with heavy slice all over the court without missing while running down every shot you […]

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David Lewerenz: In Memoriam

A few days before he was shockingly diagnosed with brain cancer, David Lewerenz called me on the phone to talk tennis. His granddaughter had just been a ball girl at a tournament for one of Iga Swiatek’s (now the world’s #1 player) matches. They shared a Polish heritage, and his granddaughter and Iga spoke briefly […]

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Players Party at Baton Rouge

All the lines below are from 60-85 year old senior tennis players and their significant others. “Bone on bone.” “Both hips replaced.” “Bet this is the healthiest group of seniors in the country.” “We drive our RV together to tournaments, listen to books on Audible.” “I play for Chile at the Worlds this year.” “I […]

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Jennifer Capriati: A Celebratory Cautionary Tale

“When the apple is ripe, you eat it.”               (Jennifer’s father, Stefano).  1989:  Five million in endorsements before turning pro.  “And she’s only 13!” (Sports Illustrated Cover).  1991: Capriati’s US Open semifinal vs. Monica Seles–the birth of power tennis in the women’s game–“a slugfest conducted by a pair of teenagers whose strokes defied age, gender and […]

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Welcome to the Dance

The picture above is of Steve Stagg, who just built a clay court not far from my house in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s our favorite place to be. He is holding a copy of Paul McNamee’s book: Welcome to the Dance: Master Clay to Master Tennis. (I describe below a few of this book’s key ideas about […]

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Thirty Years in Marseille, Art by Arnaud Brosset

Click here to see all 30 years of anecdotes from the Open 13 Provence in Comics: Note: I wrote the piece below after reading through all 30 of Arnaud Brosset’s great comic strips in French (with a dictionary, of course). The links below for each player will take you to the corresponding comic strip. Thirty Years […]

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Li Na, China

On Painting Li Na: Some comments below taken from Debra Di Blasi’s emails to me: “It’s a bit socialist-art style, which I kind of like. (We have quite a bit of Vietnam and China socialist-style posters, prints and statues, so it was not a big leap.)” “The paper, by the way, is unbleached mulberry, which […]

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Pancho Segura, Ecuador

Rickets. Poor. Ecuador. Dirt. His two small hands sweeping, picking up balls at the Guayaquil tennis club while cruise liners sailed the ocean nearby. This bow-legged kid loved to watch them. Maricon, they called him. “Fairy.” Too small, too weak, so two hands on the forehand. He played and played until everyone wanted to hit with him. […]