In this anthology, Caryl Phillips brings together a collection of tennis stories that cover many different aspects of the game. Topics include Money and Tennis, Race and Nationality, Women and Tennis, Artistry and Psychology, and Modern Personalities. The best part, though, is that you get to observe these aspects of tennis through the players themselves. What better insight can there be into the life of a black tennis star than through the eyes of Arthur Ashe? In other recollections we get to see the stars from the perspective of those around them. Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri makes no bones about how he subsidized Monica Seles and her family and then was abandoned when she started to make it big. Not only are we given insight to the players, but individual matches and games are dissected in detail so we begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of how these athletes played. It leaves you thinking, If only I could combine Connors's strength with Evert's control, with McEnroe's athleticism and Seles's determination . . . For tennis lovers this is an excellent collection of tales from behind the baseline. We get to see some of the tennis greats through the eyes of other tennis greats, and we get to see what makes them tick. The book also includes journeys to the dark side, as sexual exploitation by coaches of their female prodigies is revealed, as well as the addition of big money to the sport.
Anyone interested in sports will find this book worth reading, but for tennis buffs it's delicious.
Margaret Vroman is a reviewer in Lansing, Michigan.