The Little Green Book of Tennis (2nd edition)

Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book of Golf” is one of the best recent examples of coaching a sport. I have patterned my new book on tennis instruction using methods similar to Coach Penick. Drawing from fifty years of teaching and coaching, I share insights from my mentors who helped me craft repeatable techniques for winning. I also share our personal experiences and observations that have proven to be solid advice. Hopefully, you’ll find this book to be succinct and filled with gems for all levels of players and coaches.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible purchase of books for a high school or college team, you can purchase books for $20/book (minimum order of 10 books). Mail a check to:

North Carolina Tennis Foundation
2709 Henry Street
Greensboro, NC  27405
Memo: Little Green Book

If you would like to purchase an individual book ($28/book), email me at ethomasparham [at]

A few early reviews: 

“If you are looking for a tennis book that is both entertaining and thought provoking this is the book for you. Tom Parham’s insights and musings are both informative and entertaining. As a former college coach, I found it a great read! This Hall of Famer has the ability to think outside the box and you might just find yourself doing the same thing. Coaches will appreciate his originality and benefit from his years of experience.” (Coach Bob Bayliss, Notre Dame Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame)

“I was very fortunate to find Elon University and Coach Parham when I decided to play college tennis, after getting out of the sport in my crucial junior years. At Elon with Parham at the helm I found the love for the sport again. Coach Parham wanted you to love the game when you graduated and never treated his players like a number. He truly cared about them. I learned a lot from Coach Parham not only in the 4 years I played for him but throughout all my years in teaching and coaching tennis. He has been a gracious mentor to me. I was fortunate to follow Coach Parham as the Elon Men’s Tennis Coach when he retired in 2004 and have passed much of his knowledge on to my players. A lot of what I learned is written in “The Little Green Book of Tennis” as he wrote it all down. I believe this book is a must read to all high school coaches and players.” (Michael Leonard, Elon University Men’s Tennis Coach)

“Tom Parham is my friend, my coach at Elon University, and a long time advisor. He brought me to America. He skillfully guided me through a new world and a new tennis arena–American College Tennis. We did well. He understood both the game, the team, and me.  He is a very well respected professional with success at coaching and teaching at all levels. Coach Parham is a master teacher and looked at as a integral part of tennis history in North Carolina, the South, and the nation. The book, The Little Green Book of Tennis is spot on in method and message for coaches, players, and teams, at all levels. Buy it.” (Roland Thornqvist, Head Women’s Tennis Coach, University of Florida)

“Coach Parham is a masterful teacher, southern humorist, and sports philosopher who explains tennis strategies and techniques in a way that anyone can “get it.” The wisdom gained in a brilliant career has been boiled down to  bite-sized pearls of wisdom in “The Little Green Book of Tennis,” a must-read for coaches, instructors, players, and parents.” (Ron Smarr, Rice University Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame, Winningest Coach in Men’s College Tennis upon retirement)

“Tom Parham’s recent authorship of his book The Little Green Book of Tennis is a great handbook for young, aspiring tennis coaches. It is also a thoughtful, entertaining read for all tennis buffs. During Tom’s forty-plus years of coaching collegiate tennis at ACC (Barton) and Elon University, he won numerous conference, district, and national championships in both the NAIA and NCAA levels of competition. As Director of Athletics at Elon University for twenty-seven years, it was a pleasure and with admiration that I observed his success during his tenure at both institutions. Coach Parham was and continues to be a committed and astute “student” of the game while he is quick to offer praise and credit to such outstanding coaches as Jim Leighton and Jim Verdieck for their mentoring that greatly enhanced his knowledge and skill for his teaching expertise.” (Dr. Alan J. White, Elon University Athletics Director)

“Tom Parham and I are colleagues and friends.  We are a lot alike, because we could not have lived without coaching.  Both native North Carolinians,  we both played two varsity sports at small colleges in NC—me at Guilford, Tom at Barton. I have seen this man coach and teach. His words flow off the page much in the same manner as the great teachers and coaches I have known. Coach Parham concludes that “this material is, in large part, not mine.  I am only the messenger. I believed in it and benefitted from these masters. I did write it down.”  I don’t think anyone has done it better.” (David Odom, Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball Coach)

“I have read the Verdieck chapter, and you did a great job capturing my dad’s thoughts. I still get choked up when I try to express my great pride in my dad and give him the credit he deserved. My dad focused so much on finding a player’s weakness and fixing it, as well as putting his players into pressure situations to learn to compete and remain poised. Each day of practice at Redlands was competition, whether a challenge match, a round robin, a steady game, a volley game. Coach Verdieck would test his players, not only with their ability to make shots and eliminate errors, but to do it when feeling pressure.” –Doug Verdieck

I played for Coach Parham during the late sixties at Atlantic Christian College. After graduation and entering a career in teaching and coaching, I was a member of the tennis camp staff at Atlantic Christian and Elon University. Much was learned during these twenty-five plus years from my mentor Tom Parham.  He had spent years talking with some of the top teaches and coaches including Jim Leighton at Wake Forest, Dennis Van Der Meer, Chet and Bill Murphy, Welby Van Horn, Wayne Sabin, Jim Verdieck, and others. What he did with all of this knowledge was to present it in such a manner that both young and old could understand it.  This is exactly what he has done with “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” He wrote it all down. The best book I have ever read on the game of tennis – from teaching techniques, to drills, to strategy. A must read for players and coaches. (Eddie Gwaltney, Retired Athletic Director, Teacher, Coach)

“Coach Parham coached me at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College.  I was in the middle of some 30 Swedish youngsters who ventured into a new country, a new language, and new friends. This came largely at the time of “the golden days of tennis in Sweden.” Bjorn Borg was our impetus.  Edberg, Wilander, Anders Jarryd, an on and on.  My father was the director of the Swedish Open in Stockholm.  I grew up watching these guys, their games, techniques, deportment. While Coach Parham recruited world-wide and very well, he had the Swedes at the core for 26 years. He told us all, “Do it right academically, personally, and on the court. This is not just about you.  You establish whether I can bring in other players behind you.” It is hard to imagine how many good young Swedes there were, and how hard players and coaches attempted to learn and play the game. At one time there were about 300 Swedes playing college tennis in America. Quite frankly, most of us had been trained by more knowledgeable teachers and pros. But Coach Parham had done his homework. He had paid his dues.  Not only that, he was eager to absorb what we brought. I once heard him say “… the Swedes know things we don’t. And they know how to play as a team member.”  He was all about the team. We respected him, knowledge, effort, and leadership. And we held up our end of the bargain.”  (Johan Sturen, ACC ’83, two time first team All-American).


We got married a little later than average. Our children came a little late, too. And they,too, were “mature”. We did have a grandson to brag about, and have done our best.
However, we have not had a fair chance with some of the early birds and more prolific. Not till 2015.
Surprisingly and with great joy we now have two more grandsons. Infants, and months apart.
Everyone is gaga as we share pictures via technology. Skype, Facetime, Videos.
The first child of my youngest Son got the usual treatment of first time parents at Christmas: A picture with SANTA.
Actually not a picture, but a string of about twenty rapidly shot options, exhibiting lots of opportunities for grandparents.
Typically we let the comments fly:
“…look at his eyes. Just like his Fathers!”
“…he is a big boy!”
“…and his red velvet suit, trimmed in white fur collar”
“…his hair looks a little different here!”
“…yes, that changes in young ones!”
Like said, ours was a big child (now referring to it “ours”).
This one was big too. But about the 12th frame down something caught
my eye.
“Margaret–that ain’t “our child! That child is a girl.”
A big girl, but a girl. The give away came with a posture shift
that revealed white leggings, also trimmed. I knew MY son would not
allow his boy so photographed.
Grandma said “…maybe its just cold and she wanted him to be warm?”
“Nope. Scroll down!”
Sure enough, there he was. Looked like he was dressed in camouflage. Almost square.
“…well, my,my. Look at his hands. How sweet!” (she)
“..’our’ boy is a stud!”(me), etc.

Merry Christmas


“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

Just saw Ron Howard’s film The Sea Beneath Us,about Melville’s research for his great novel, Moby Dick. The film, like the book, is a testament to the “leviathan” and his power. We saw it in 3-D. And, while this magnified the whale’s fearsome abilities it also makes another point. That being the uncontrollable ability of the seas.

Witness Melville’s words on this subject:

“…though but a moment’s consideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet forever and forever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” And:

“But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring; worse than the Persian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”

Whale oil preceded modern oil and its products for our energy. And while we give ourselves credit for ceasing the massacres of whales, our misuse of oil and carbon may find us among the slaughtered. Politicians won’t decide about climate change. The sea will.

And, while the question of off shore drilling here in North Carolina, and off our Atlantic coast, has serious financial and social variables, that is not really the issue. Nature and the sea are showing us some severe possibilities. Any who pretends they know the limits of the power of the seas of the world is a fool.


Sports can break your heart and/or your neck. About the time schools consolidated, a football tackling technique called “spearing” became popular. And it was lethal. During this “evolving” time several kids were killed or paralyzed. Spearing was often the villain. Any young football coach should read O. Charles Olsen’s small book called “The Prevention of Football Injuries.” Olsen’s theory is centered on E = 1⁄2 mv2 or Energy = one half mass times velocity squared. Or, the players are faster, stronger, and the hitting is harder.
When schools integrated the smaller kids were eliminated from football. Bigger kids, many African American, weight training programs, and steroids in some instances, produced some dangerous hits.
Much has been written about the “Black athlete.” There is no question in my mind about the talent level of these athletes.
Coming from the South and being a minister’s son there was little question, early on about God. Certainly, in my mind, he was male, white, and looked a whole lot like Santa Claus. Surely too, he was lovable, kind, and simply good “supreme being.”
After watching sports in America the last forty years my guess about God’s nature is more Machiavellian. After watching America make a religion out of sports, while at the same time mistreating the black population so badly, I picture God’s role differently. My guess we’ve put so much emphasis on sport he’s peeved. Think not? Watch where parents are at 11:00 am on Sunday’s if their child is in a soccer match. Hmm? Did God say “I’ll give these fanatics a dilemma!” He then put this glorious athletic talent in many of the Black population, and now he’s “up there” giggling at what America is doing with sports.
Please don’t get me wrong. The Black athletes have paid their dues in practice, injury, and sweat just like anyone. Probably more so.
Integration caused a lot of headaches in the alignment of conferences, etc. Who plays and who you play, is important, and alignment turned things upside down.
I do believe Proposition 48 (the academic guidelines for collegiate eligibility) yielded a lot of good. I wonder about the S.A.T. and fairness, but it is a “hard” number.
My guess is the best barometer for academic success is the athletes’ class rank. With exceptions, most of those who could achieve class rank had enough ability to succeed.
Some can’t spell S.A.T. Some people are aberrant bastards who have no business in higher education. It always irked me to know that the beauty, education, and joy of collegiate sports was often wasted on an “athlete” who had no intention of benefiting from the true value of Sports in Education.

***I wrote the above in 2007 (“Play is where Life is”).



(“…you’re gonna need a bigger boat!”)

When I started working on the Little Green Book of Tennis two years ago. I soon realized I needed help. A lot of people helped out, none more than this:

“The NC Tennis Foundation (NCTF) has made available a way for donors to contribute to the NCTF and purchase a book(s) for an active NC High School Coach. NCTF is pleased to help supply Tom Parham’s book, “The Little Green Book of Tennis” to our many hardworking coaches who can gain knowledge about tennis to impart to their HS players.”

Our intention is to give all 750 high school varsity tennis coaches, boys and girls, a copy of this guide.
We have already shipped books to 17 North Carolina counties in packages of 20 books (10 for girls and coach, 10 for boys and coach) to each high school in that county. Some 700 books. There are 31 schools with books for coaches.
This has been financed by individual gifts. I hope I have thanked each of you properly.
We are far from finished. The GIFTS NOW SHOULD GO THROUGH:
Address and mail check to:

2709 Henry Street
Greensboro, NC
Tag the check at bottom:
For–Tom Parham’s Book(s)

Here are some others comments:

* I have “over E-mailed”! — One of many mistakes as a beginner in technology.
I have a “blog” (www.tomparham.wordpress. com) and will now post related links here you may want to see. No more bombardment. And forgive me.
• Chuck Kriese asked me to promote the book and program (“Tennis for High Schools”) on his radio show. Podcasts can be googled any time. Thanks, Coach Kriese!
• Coach Ron Smarr is heading a group of “old coaches” who want to help young coaches, teams and players. I will post a link to this PAY IT FORWARD, and a contact for helping us with this avenue of support and recognition.
• Coach Jeff Trivette of UNC GREENSBORO helps host the tennis clinic for the North Carolina High School Athletics EAST/WEST games. Coach Michael Leonard will host a clinic for coaches. This is a good place to insure distribution to your programs, Coaches. Coach Linsey Linker is helping with NORTH CAROLINA TENNIS COACHES ASSOCIATION. This is an independent support group for high school tennis in our state.
• I have talked to both First Tee of Austin and Mr. Harvey Penick’s son, Tinsley, about the link between red book of golf and our green book of tennis. They were very nice.
• I am particularly proud of the support of my former players at Atlantic Christian/Barton College, and Elon University. Their gifts have combined with other friends, some tennis people and some not, to raise about $15,000.
• The ability to give through the Foundation will give us a boost. And credibility. I am glad not to be selling on my own.
• There are other states interested in what North Carolina is doing with this unique idea. We already have a “presence” in South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida. Some interest too from the USTA, the Southern Tennis Association, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and the National Federation of High School Athletics. Tennis camps are interested. The League teams and coaches see its possibilities for improving their programs as do recreation departments.

In conclusion, fundraising is not my cup of tea. Yet , this project is dear me. I believe I wrote a good book; one Mr. Penick, Coach Leighton, Jim Verdick, and others, would sanction as (1) a great method (Mr. Penick’s), (2) a great message from “our tennis masters”, (3) a great purpose in our young people, and finally (4) a fine network of people, tennis people, North Carolinians, Southerners, Americans.

Help us out!
PS. I promise to never ask anyone for money again. And you don’t to come to my funeral.


Old coach



North Carolina has produced 3 real moneymakers from professional tennis. One,Tim Wilkison, turned pro at age 17. John Isner and John Sadri attended college 4 years on tennis scholarships before going pro. Sadri and Isner both credit college tennis for their success.
From the 1970’s until today, the number of scholarships awarded to internationals has spriraled upwards, as grants for Americans declined in response.
Within this same time period Americans among the upper tier of professional tennis has declined to the point of alarm. Obviously the two are connected.
Scholarships are the only reasonable financial reward for American athletes. Professional tennis as a possibility has proven a particularly unreasonable bet.
American women’s sports have produced two interesting related examples.
Our women just won their third soccer world cup since Title IX (1970). Of the 23 roster members on the USA squad this year, all 23 attended college. My guess is that all were on sizable soccer grants.
Duke University’s women’s golf team finished 2nd in NCAA this spring. There was not an American on the roster.

ON FLAGS (136)

CHICAGO (April 14, 2015, U.S. Soccer) – With 55 days until the USA’s opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the United States on women’s soccer’s grandest stage Tuesday. The roster will not become official until it is submitted to FIFA on May 25, which is the deadline for all teams to submit their final squads.

Six former University of North Carolina Tar Heels have been named to the team – the most from any university program. The Tar Heel contingent includes Heather O’Reilly, playing in her third World Cup, Lori Chalupny and Tobin Heath, playing in their second World Cups, and Ashlyn Harris, Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen all playing in their first World Cups. Chalupny is the most veteran Tar Heel in the group, having last competed at UNC in 2005. O’Reilly’s last season was 2006 while Engen, Harris and Heath finished in 2009 and Klingenberg in 2010.

Broken down by alma maters, the team includes six players from North Carolina, two each from UCLA, Stanford, Penn State and Virginia and one each from Washington, Santa Clara, Monmouth, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Portland, California, USC and Florida.

Stole the information above! Below, it’s mine.
* Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
* The USA men’s team has never won the World Cup.
* Title 1X became law in 1970. Most widely known beneficiary? Women’s sports.
* No other country enforces such a law.
* July 5, 2015, USA women win third World Cup title, since Title 1X.
* Now is the time to wave a flag. An American one.
We watched the game on TV. With pride. We were joined by guests from Burlington, NC, one of whom asked “… where is their national training center?”
My reply? The largest is thirty miles from you. UNC-AT Chapel Hill. Of the 23 roster members above, all 23 went to college. Anson Dorance, Coach at UNC is legend.
College athletics are the most productive training center for elite athletes and teams anywhere in the world.
Is tennis watching? All the soccer girls probably had sizable scholarships. And without the scholarships how many would been where they are now?
Tennis has cut this foundation off. Our funding is “foreign aid”, shipped all over the world, while we can’t seem to find a fair and legal way to reserve money for our own children.
Americans want top level players. People are searching for help. I repeat: Restore reasonable college scholarships funding for tennis. And the foundation for player development in our country.


Below is the text of the induction comments by Lenox Rawlings, upon his entrance as a member of THE NORTH CAROLINA SPORTS HALL OF FAME.
Lenox is a retired writer. This become obvious. What was equally impressive was the way he presented his insights.
lenox is a “homey” from Wilson,NC. A lot people were proud of Lenox, me certainly included. But none more than BROTHER RUSSELL

MAY 15, 2015

When I was a boy growing up in Wilson, my grandfather would pick me up on Sundays around lunchtime and drive downtown to the Cherry Hotel newsstand across the street from the train station. He would buy a New York newspaper, and then we’d ride over to Fleming Stadium and enjoy the lazy hour or so before a Carolina League baseball game. I’d lay across the back seat in his Buick Special and get lost in the sports pages of the Herald-Tribune or the Times. We’d ask each other questions and exchange opinions – none of which I remember specifically. But I do remember feeling completely at peace.

It’s impossible to say when my love of sports and my love of language met at the crossroads, but one thing led to another, and now that I’m my grandfather’s age, I’m somewhat astonished to find myself standing here tonight accepting this great honor. There are lots of people to thank, beginning with my family, who taught me the difference between right and wrong and encouraged me to be myself and to do whatever I wanted to do in life.

My parents read at the beginning and end of every day and took us to the library where my mother later worked. My father, Lenox Jr., was a masterful storyteller with a dancer’s fine sense of timing, and he could leave a room roaring with laughter. My mother, Gloria, had a dry wit and precise powers of observation and considerable insight into human character. When I was about 11, she handed me her new copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and said, maybe for the only time, “I think you should read this.” She was right, of course. My brothers John and Russell and my sister Ann supported whatever I did and read my columns even if they had little interest in the subject. My wife Janice was a bit more discriminating. She preferred the good ones or the unusual ones, like that one about the alleged intelligence of the elusive largemouth bass. Janice reinforced the importance of intellectual honesty in everyone around her. She carried on cheerfully whenever I took off across the country to cover another story, and she traveled with me far and wide, especially after Jennifer and Barak grew up.

All of them sacrificed something for my freedom of movement.

So did my editors and publishers at the Winston-Salem Journal and other newspapers. They gave me freedom of expression. They defended my freedom of speech whenever they had to, which required more spine than you find in fair-weather guardians of the First Amendment. Fortunately, most of my interview subjects were civilized and cooperative. Many of the people I’ve written about and many of the writers I’ve worked beside are loyal friends. I’ve been lucky that way – in so many ways, really.

From elementary school through college, certain teachers recognized my affinity for descriptive writing and reacted positively. This happens every day in every school around the state, so it galls me when I hear politicians lump all teachers together and criticize them for failing to fix every breakdown in our society.

I’ll admit to an inherent bias. My other grandfather was a high school teacher and football coach before he became the town manager of Wendell. And, for half a century, I have watched teachers and coaches help young folks change their lives for the better. I’ve seen the modest home where my high school teammate Carlester Crumpler lived, raised by his loving grandmother. I’ve seen the neighborhood where Rodney Rogers grew up. I’ve seen the backyard goal where Kay Yow and her sisters and brother learned to shoot, long before women had a tangible future in basketball.

The beauty of sports – the democratic essence of sports, really – is that everyone stands on his or her own merits. Success depends on talent and work and persistence and passion, not privilege. These are basic values that endure long after the cheering fades. I’m more impressed with Carlester as an adviser to college students than Carlester the teenage legend. I’m more impressed with how Rodney has handled personal tragedy than how he handled basketball glory. I’m more impressed with Kay’s legacy as a cancer pioneer than her record as a pioneering coach.

They represent the best among us, but they aren’t alone. This room is full of people whose formal educations began in North Carolina’s public schools, people who developed a love for fair competition and helping teammates reach their potential, people who can look back through the clutter and clatter of modern times and recognize the wisdom of these simple ideas. When I was young, North Carolina was a leader in public education, but we’ve slipped. We should vastly improve the public schools for a future beyond our time – not because it’s the liberal or conservative thing to do, or the black or white thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do. And because out there tonight in North Carolina, other kids are sitting in cars reading their electronic devices – maybe even reading the New York papers – and wondering how their stories will turn out. They deserve a fair chance, too.