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The West Side Tennis Club, Art by Normandie Syken

Pen and ink drawing, watercolor. The real world, the artist’s imagination. Life’s drift or dialogue between the two. Normandie Syken’s Junior Tennis mixes a childhood world of innocence with moments of hard-to-pin-down adult introspection. Soft washes of watercolor are everywhere. Tennis balls dot the courts like an impressionist’s flowers. Overly large figures of adult authority—the tennis pros—are […]

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What a University Tennis Coach Learns from his Players: Two Examples

By Robert Cox, Head Coach at the University of Arkansas (1987-2013) What I learned from Blake Strode: Recruits like Blake do not come around very often. He was the complete package: smarts, natural talent, high Jr. rankings, speed, and a high tennis IQ. For four years, Blake played high in the line-up earning All American honors, […]

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The Many Gifts of Manolo Santana

What Pablo Casals did for the cello Andres Segovia for the classical guitar Picasso for modern art Manolo Santana did for tennis in Spain. He inspired a generation who inspired a generation who inspired a generation so that every tennis aficionado knows what Spanish tennis now is—both a style that evolved and a long list of […]

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Two Tennis Pregnancies: Daphne Akhurst, Serena Williams

Note: The writing below was inspired by Richard Naughton’s book: Daphne Akhurst: The Woman Behind the Trophy. All the information below on Daphne Akhurst is taken from this book, which I highly recommend for a more thorough account of her fascinating life. Two Tennis Pregnancies Serena takes pictures with the Daphne Akhurst trophy after winning […]

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Alice Marble or Alice Marvel

Which opening scene works best for a Hollywood film on Alice? Scene 1: Babe Ruth hands a ball to a 17-year old girl (Babe Didrikson Zaharias) out in centerfield before a San Francisco Seals Game. He whispers: “Kid, throw it high. You get more distance.” Show in slow motion how the girl, determined, throws a perfect […]

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Seven Ways of Looking at Dominic Thiem’s Backhand

After Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” When Zeus throws a lightning bolt, his easy power is bestowed upon him by god-like men or man-like gods from the ancient world. Thiem’s one-hander is modern. As with lightening, all the electrons/muscles fire at different times, lighting up the kinetic chain of his body: […]

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Maria Sakkari: Greek Goddess or Greek Olympian

In Athens, the city of her birth, Sakkari sails back 25 centuries to the 5th century BCE. Male nude olympians everywhere sculpted in all their glory. History’s greatest ideas buzz around them like bees: Democracy, Drama, Dialectic. Due to Maria’s athletic prowess—her sprinter’s speed, her gynmast’s arms–she is allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. She […]

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Bobby Riggs on his Death Bed

1945: The Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima.  Don Budge and I, the world’s two best players, played a few miles away. A little action. Entertaining the troops. Army (Budge) vs. Navy (Riggs), that’s the way it is boys. Bets? Bets? I was just a pesky hustler, but I finally figured him out. He got […]

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Simona Halep: Three Easy-but-Difficult, Safe-but-Risky, Calculated-but-Mindless Backhands

Situation: Having lost the first set, Simona is serving at 4-4 (15-15) in the second set against Sloane Stephens in the 2018 French Open Final. Sloane floats a weak return just past the service line, so Simona steps in and smacks an 88 mph sharply angled backhand cross-court within a foot of the sideline I submit that […]

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Tennis in the Year 3040

La Tenista 3040 is prepared to play in two realms at once: 1) the year 3040 2) the mythological past. The Year 3040: A warming planet, biological weapons, alternate realities, cyborg cities . . .  La Tenista 3040 is prepared. Like those insects crawling over the melting of time in Salvadore Dali’s Persistence of Memory, La […]