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Autumn at the Stagg Invitational

Mike Roberson and I shake hands after the final match. We both lost our wives this year. I am the lucky one. At 65 years old, two decades older than Mike, I can already check the box called a long, happy life: a blissful marriage of forty years with two beautiful daughters of intelligence and […]

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Tatjana Maria: The Forehand Slice in Wimbledon’s Garden of Eden

Tatjana Maria’s grand slam record before reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2022: 13 losses in qualifying rounds, 23 losses in the first round; 10 losses in the second round, 1 loss in the third round. In other words, her greatest success by far comes at age 34 a year after giving birth to her second […]

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Lew Hoad

Greek Tragedy #1: That something within everyone like Achilles’ heel is fated and waiting to fail. For Lew Hoad it was his back. Greek Tragedy #2:  What being born a decade too soon might mean: his homeland (Australia) would exile him, history forget him.* (slightly overstated but not much) In Medias Res: Pills swallowed, shots taken, […]

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Arthur Ashe

Solve this problem: Your daughter’s playing with a doll, a gift she just received from a friend.  The doll is white.  1968: John Carlos’ black power salute Arthur Ashe wins the first US Open. 1970: Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye the problem of “whiteness” as a standard of beauty Arthur Ashe wins The Australian Open. […]

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The Tennis Art of Tommervik

A woman hits an overhead smash, her racquet a guitar in a cubist painting by Braque or Picasso. Her larger than life limbs travel across countries and centuries of time: ancient, modern, eastern, western. My tennis friends tell me she’s not hitting an overhead. She is hitting the ultimate trick shot, swinging and purposefully missing […]

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Rafael Osuna: Mexico’s Greatest Tennis Player

Smells of two worlds mix in the kitchen: one of boiling beans and noodle soup and chile rellenos, the other of black olives and goat cheese and figs. Each day is a clock with its two hands tossing tortillas as a child appears and then another and another till Rafael is born on Sept. 15, […]

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Tennis Mulligans and Special Needs in Northwest Arkansas

I double faulted on an important point in a doubles match last weekend. Usually a moment of some agony (few tennis players are intentionally charitable), I smiled at my opponents instead. “Mulligan,” I cried out. (I had purchased 5 mulligans before the match.) So happy to have another serve, I barely thought of all the […]

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Gael Monfils: Improv and the Human Highlight Reel

If you could see the moment after in the painting above: Monfils hitting the ground running to cover the next shot, which his opponent misses. If you watch the first two shots in the video below from Tennis TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWMQJEf3pL8 First Shot: The long sprint forward sudden scissors kick leap high in the air while […]

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Tracy Austin Made the Big Girls Cry

Tracy Austin “hit the hell out of the ball and never missed and never choked and had braces and pigtails that swung wildly around as she handed pros their asses” (David Foster Wallace). Tracy, in other words, made the big girls cry. She even made the goddesses, the legends of the sport–Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova–cry their […]

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Quartet for the End of Time

January 15, 1941, a light rain descending on Stalag VIII-A: Jean le Boulaire on violin, Henri Akoka on clarinet, Etienne Pasquier on cello. The composer, Oliver Messiaen, plays piano. How to express the mystical truths of Catholicism in the rhythm of musical movement: bird song, Hindu talas, numerical formulas, ancient Greek meters, Gregorian chant. All […]