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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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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. […]

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Muguruza, Guadalajara, and Covid-19

“Everything gets on you fast,” said Aggie Radwanska of Muguruza’s aggressive all-court game: big whopping ground strokes, aggressive returns taken early, big serves and swinging volleys, her lengthy six feet of grace and power always looking to move in closer, smother her opponents with big shot after big shot. Covid came fast, too. Put a […]

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Andre Agassi’s Wig

At dawn I sighed to see my hairs fall;At dusk I sighed to see my hairs fall . . . Did Agassi lose his first French Open final because he worried his wig might fall off? “Image is everything.” Vegas, entertainment, the flashy shot. When the going got tough, his beautiful zen-like-deer-in-the-headlight eyes. How to […]

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“Yes, Tennis Everyone!” Art by Brian Cowlishaw

Brian writes me that the inspiration for this piece comes from Donald Barthelme’s story, “The Palace.” In this story, the author is in line at a bank in New York City when he notices the yellow check for $84.06 that a Puerto Rican woman holds. Then he notices that there are many other black and […]

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Hugo Dellien, Tu Fu, and the Miracle of Life (Art by ItchiRAE)

March, 2020. Bolivia closes its borders. Paraguay closes its borders. New words are heard: Pandemic, Covid. The cruelest month is April when an everyday miracle occurs. A birth, a baby named “Mila.” “Mila,” a Milagro. In Paraguay the mother is all alone. In Bolivia the father is bereft. The mother’s name is Camila Giangreco Campiz. She […]

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Percy Shakespeare, “The Tennis Player”

Tennis invented so that women and men could play together. Conversation, competition . . . The development of women’s fashion, the body freed from Victorian hoop skirts so it might chase down more balls. Legs for running or for showing off? Feminist or feminine? Traditional or Daring? Married or single? Beautiful or plain? The woman […]