The Little Green Book of Tennis


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.

The tennis book is NOW arranged from beginner to intermediate to advanced players. Then specific attempts to help coaches, teams, fans, parents, and tennis organizations.   Tennis people can more  logically access the proper tennis lessons

The other categories the book appears in thirds:  A. TENNIS, B.  TOWNS AND PEOPLE,  C. SUBJECTS DARK AND LIGHT.


Light at the end of the tunnel? Check the article below. American men’s tennis players finally make a dent.

Half played college tennis. How many internationals in the draw also honed their skills at our colleges and universities?

One mo time: Reserve half of American tennis scholarship money for American players.



Bryce Holmes is professionally a chemist.  He works now for North Carolina A&T University, but his heart is on a tennis court.  Many small towns have special “tennis angels” who nurture youngsters in the game.  Lexington, N.C. had some angels and the town was one of the best “tennis towns” anywhere.  Bryce Holmes was the first black high school player at an integrated high school in North Carolina, and a good one.  I answered Bryce’s phone call one day at Elon.  He wanted to get into college coaching.  Shortened story finds Bryce helping us at Elon. He and I talked incessantly and about all kinds of things. Bryce not only was a natural coach but was and is a friend.  

But had his trepidations.  A fine college tennis player at Livingston College, he was to be inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame.  Bryce had heard me speak a few times and wanted some advice.  “What in the world do I talk about?”  The cat was scared!

Not quickly sure what to advise Coach Holmes to speak about, the subject was dropped.  Pretty soon the subject of playing on the high school team came up again.  Bryce remembered during that period  coming home after school and finding a  rumpled paper bag on the porch. Opened he found tennis balls. All varieties of brands, colors, and ages, and wear.  “My dad gathered some old balls,”  Only Mr. Holmes denied the act.  No one could tell where they came from.  Next day, more  similar balls.   Only a neighbor has witnessed the donor this time.  

“Jake left the balls!”

Jake Braddley was the garbage man.  Everyone knew him.  Quiet, limited in some ways.  Certainly no tennis hero.

The neighbor said he asked Jake about his gifts.   Jake said he had heard about that young man wanting to make the team and Jake wanted to help.

I advised Bryce then. “Tell that at the banquet.  There won’t be a dry eye.”

Still coaching my buddy.


Tom Parham <ethomasparham@gmail.com>10:32 AM (0 minutes ago)
to me

from Ezra Klein podcast:
“Here is what this movement of millions should do, for a start,” Malm writes. “Announce and enforce the prohibition. Damage and destroy new CO2-emitting devices. Put them out of commission, pick them apart, demolish them, burn them, blow them up. Let the capitalists who keep on investing in the fire know that their properties will be trashed.

” …three blind mice. See how they run.”



Wilson Gym was named for  the townspeople. Our biggest battle was fighting local kids, who constantly tried to sneak in, or fought to stay in. 

Early on it was used for concerts. College campuses were the scenes of some great shows in the ‘70s. We had the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Earl Scruggs, and the J. Geils Band, and many more. 

It wore thin quickly. Outsiders wrecked our new home. The “Tams” shined their shoes on my new Fred Perry tennis shorts (from my locker) Booze, dope, hell, copulating was commonplace. 

The staff objected, but we were over run. My final straw was the night of the great Eagles show. 

My volleyball class had been assured the gym was ours until the piano player took over at 3:00 pm to tune. As we entered the gym the tour manager said no, the piano player was tuning now, at 1:00 p.m. 

The manager and I argued briefly and he stated, “Man do you realize you are messing with the Eagles?” 

My class applauded my response: “The Eagles can fly in ever diminishing circles until they fly up their own assholes, we are having class.” (A la Paul Newman’s description of the Poona Lagoona bird.) We pushed in. 

***The text is from PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS (t. parham )


When I really wanted to learn about coaching tennis I began to read a lot of tennis books, and I decided that if I could get one point for my team it was worth reading the book. There are all kinds of ways to learn. Coach Leighton used to say there are vast levels of play. My arena was not Wimbledon or Division 1 but small college tennis (NAIA, Division 2). My first yers in the NAIA I was introduced to players and coaches from all over the world. The Texas and Oklahoma guys seemed to be the closest to us (North Carolinians).

On one of the first days I watched the tournament a big Texas kid made a comment to himself about an errant shot. “Aw birdshit”. I laughed. One kid receiving serve looked long and hard at the mark, looked at his opponent waved him on saying “naw- keep ‘em coming”. Another perplexed Okie making a line call examined the mark closely and said “I’m calling that good but keep it in mind and after the match is over let me know whether it was in or out. i want to know”. Certainly a unique level.

The French Open is just around the corner. The tennis channel allows viewing high level matches on any surface all week long.I think I like the French because you can see the game within the game. 

Many college baseball players used to elect my beginning tennis class. One player said “I love it.  You get to hit all you want to’.

I have watched a lot of tennis in this year of world wide health concern. After 40 years of college coaching I think I can see things that could be improved even among the pros. Ten years ago I predicted the dropshot would more and more exhibit its’ “shattering effect” even on the pro game. Maybe Djokovic confirmed this prediction most impressively. Charlie Owens shattered multitudes in our area with this tactic. Not long ago another time honored skill, the top spin lob was about to become more readily used. I think you’re seeing that now. Watch and see if I’m right. My prediction for 2021 and later comes from the college game. “Before long the best top level women’s doubles players will come from women who have played American college doubles.

One all International college team dominated tennis for years. If you check the scores of their matches very often the final team score would be 4-1. Their coach explained “they have never played doubles, they don’t know how to play doubles, and they don’t want to play doubles. They would just give the doubles point away if I would let them.” In 1965 I was given the job of coaching small college tennis. I did well because so many of the coaches had never been involved in sports and were mainly librarians, financial officers or such. 

That is not the case today. There are now women teams. Both women and men now have excellent coaches and assistants. Many of whom are former fine level college players or even professionals. 

Nobody gives the doubles point away now.

Impressively the tennis channel and NCAA have done a masterful job of filming the NCAA National Championships. Watching the women play I’m more and more impressed with their improving abilities,  particularly in doubles. With great coaching and avid concentration on the all important doubles point women in this arena not only care more about doubles, they practice those unique doubles skills with intense effort. You will never see in any match a player that tries harder than a college player trying to win their match for their team.Thus my 2021 prediction.

Watching the college tournament this year I could see the women utilizing new unique formations and tactics that did not exist when I was coaching. The new coaches are making the players better and better. Teammates will not allow anything different. Enthusiasm is glorious, unmatched at any level. 


Counting flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do

(The Statlers)

One of my grandsons told my wife, “…Pop has a lot of words.”

Al Rehm once told me “…shut up and let us talk some, we’re drunk too.”

My brother-in-law once rolled the van window down in the freezing cold.


I had to let some words out of the van! ”

My 80th year (2020) will be known as Covid year. Lots of terrible things went on. Many changes were mundane, boring, lengthly adjustments. Not easy to adjust at eighty.

I had already changed some things in preparation for simple retirement. And, while for many Covid was retirement on steroids, that preparation was useful this year.

DIE BROKE had four basic suggestions: 1. Have only one emergency credit Pay cash. 2. Quit now. limit what you will do 3. Don’t retire. (I will come back to this one), 4. Die broke. “Your last check should bounce!”

President Fred Young of Elon had suggested “…always have a plan for the next day. It can be painting a chair or just about anything. But have something planned”. (#3)

What was left? Had to give up drinking, luckies, corinthians girls already. Can you imagine giving up smoking, booze, BBQ, and double scoops of ice cream while living in Wilson, NC? Even the healthy ones gave out. Tennis, Jogging, Hard to get out of a sand trap dragging a bad leg.

Got a new book on the way. That will be seven that look like books anyway. And where ever prayers of thanks go, some how I began to write. Just for me. For me—it has worked.

*Just wondering what percentage of couples create this scenario:

Spouse one interjects a new dinner table topic for conversation.

Spouse two pounces on the topic and their version overrides.


One coaching friend said when his uncle ordered any meal at any resturant, the next voice came immediately

from his Aunt, the wife: “Naw–he don’t want that, he had that last week. Give him #4 with mashed potatoes

and green beans!”


We haven’t had many house guests during Covid. Our firsts lately, Brothers Bill and Wootie Steed, came for a visit this week. As we talked, a local coastal camp for kids was mentioned, CampSeagull. Wootie suddenly blurted out: “…I went to that camp.!” Slowly he shared a largely undisturbed memory of a 12 year old . “What I remember most is my widowed Mom enrolled me for a whole summer month! Oh. And they wouldn’t let me play golf. Silence.

You could see smokey memories creeping back. His face changed. “They distributed the mail daily. I went to mail-call every day. I only got one postcard . It was signed by my mom and 18 year old sister, and it was postmarked BERMUDA.”

Women can be crafty.

And tough. For years some old basketball players gathered annually at teammate Rocky Covington’s Myrtle Beach condo. The late Larry Schwab never missed. We told the same stories every year. A 6ft. 240lb. grizzled Navy vet, Larry always told about going back home hungover, only to find out his wife had given his dog away. He could always shed a tear with the last lines: “What kind of wife gives her husband’s dog away? What kind of man stays married to such a woman?”

And these bad luck women stick like glue
It's either one or the other or neither of the two

(NETTIE MOORE" by Bob Dylan 

Still one wonders?