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.

If you would like to purchase a printed copy of the book ($28/book), email me at ethomasparham [at] gmail.com. If you’d like to purchase a digital copy, they are available on Amazon here.

Here are 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).


My wife says I don’t like criticism.  Lots of it on social media now and coaches get their share.   Once, reading a major tennis magazine,  I saw my name in an article by a major tennis writer.   He chastised me for proposing a shortening of the scoring format for college tennis.   Somehow he missed that the proposal was for college tennis, not pro tennis.  Since that time college (and numerous other tennis bodies) have indeed realized the need to make these suitable changes in length.

The Australian Open starts the 2019 pro season today.   And with a shortened format.   People have, via common sense,

realized “Isner-like” five setters may end the careers of modern pros by injury, or causes starvation from a fan.   TOUCHE.

“Nothing remains the same but change.”

My first job was at a small college.   While in high school I played what many did:  Football, basketball, and baseball.   Now,  in addition to coaching varsity tennis, and running  the intramural program, I was assigned eight different courses to teach.  One was for physical education majors entitled TEACHING VOLLEYBALL AND SOCCER.  At that time no one knew what a soccer ball looked like.  Volleyball was at best a backyard game.

Now that school features sixteen varsity sports, Soccer and Volleyball for men and women included.

(Wait a minute.  Mistake.  There are no men’s collegiate volleyball teams  in the southeast.  Only the west coast and northern US field teams.)

WRONGY DONGY!   The North State Conference was originally an NAIA member.  After about fifty years and innumerable name changes, this league is now CONFERENCE CAROLINAS, members of NCAA Division 11.   All of its eleven members field a varsity men’s volleyball team.

Why all this change?   Ask anybody in the small college business in recent history.  Clients!  Numbers!  You can have a “college”  only if you have students.  North Carolina may have too many small colleges.  And while I believe small colleges may be the best way to become educated, two main factors compound their  dilemma:  They are expensive.  There  are 16  fine state institutions  of higher learning and tons of Community colleges.

Back to volleyball and male children.  Karch Kiraly led the USA in the Olympics in the 1980’s.   These California boys captured sports imaginations, including mine.  Why not play college men’s volleyball on the east coast.  We’ve got gyms too.  Courts are already lined.  No brainer.  The more I thought, taught, and played volleyball –the more I pushed the notion.  And, while our girls slipped seamlessly into varsity play, only club, class, intramurals,  and recreation  were it for high school boys and college men at a varsity level.

About five years ago I heard Conference Carolinas was to become the first conference to sponsor Collegiate varsity volleyball for men in the southeast.  The first match our school played in was an hour away and I was there.   Upon entering the gym I was struck by the kids and families and fans.  Eleven teams were entered.  And while our team featured some “beginning” players who rarely scored a point,  I inwardly beamed.  I WAS RIGHT.

January 11, 2019 we (BARTON COLLEGE) hosted the NCAA DIVISION 1 2018 champions, Long Beach State from California.  Several “old timers” came to me and asked Coach, what do you think of this?  Wow – and proud of pushing the game.

I studied the roster sheets and the players.  Long Beach featured 21 players.  Seventeen were from California.  Four were international.  Fourteen players were 6’5″ or taller.

Barton had quite a different mixture of their 13 players.   Seven were internationals from five different countries.  Twelve were 6’3″ or better.  I can tell you that to recruit that many internationals is a lot of work.

There was a good crowd who were enthusiastic and encouraged by the performance of this small school against the nation’s best.  Me too.

There were several others impressions:

****American college rosters can become international very fast.  This too is an evolving process.

****American coaches have to win.  This puts pressure on them  to find any good player.

****Basketball is also “going after internationals”.  Some are concerned (see blog 337 ).

****All college sports that are played internationally  will recruit more and more internationals  (Volleyball, tennis, golf, soccer, swimming, basketball, etc.)

****Tennis began this kudzu like spread in the 1970’s.  The top six ranked men’s tennis teams in NCAA Division two  combined featured 63 roster members.  Sixty two of them  were international.

I still believe scholarship control, with “our kids first, is RIGHT for American college sports.


RIGHT—since 1970 about football and head injuries.  To be continued.

1998 RIGHT —-International basketball players are coming.   And they want  your scholarship.







“Golf is like faith:  it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”  (Arnold Haultain quoted in GOLFIRMATIONS– a book by Hugh O’Neil).

‘”…new putters have a way of quickly finding out who’s holding them.”

“…never bet anyone with a deep tan but whose left hand is  the color of mayonnaise.”


I never knew about the tricky putt Jack Nicklaus gave Tony Jacklin in the1969 Ryder Cup. Or WHY?


Or about why Curtis Strange played at the Inverrary Classic with only four clubs (page 41).



“Mine eyes have seen the glory of some drive so straight and true,

And I’ve endured a botched up bunker-shot

that stopped atop my shoe.

I have triumphed.  I have staggered.  I have foozled quite a few.

My handicap won’t go down.”   ****VERSES FOLLOW (pages 14, 15)





“It won’t happened to us” just happened to us.   It was named FLORENCE, and she roared through our neighborhood Sept. 18, 2018.   In the 1950’s movie THE RAINMAKER, Burt Lancaster’s character, STARBUCK warns “…don’t ask for deluge”!  Somebody didn’t get the memo.

Trying to find some good out of all this, I make this observation and suggestion.

Our community of some 400 lots and houses is fairly new.  The codes from day one prohibited metal roofs.  This was a decision made with aesthetics a major guideline.

Coastal people described Florence as “once in five hundred years” storm.  Yet the description was applied a week later to storm MICHAEL, that literally blew a Florida town off the map.   While Florence was  evaluated as “…” the most expensive storm in North Carolina history” by Governor Roy  Cooper,  Water–not wind was –the problem:  Unlike 2018’s Michael, or the 1954 monster Hazel.

The water, in flood-like fashion came from down  to up in homes and businesses.  More  often it came down, through  roofs with shingles.  Our house tops turned “tarp blue”.  We travelled eastern NC several different routes,  to Wilmington, who got it the worst, to Raleigh via 24/40 west or 58/70.  To Beaufort by 24/70 or down the island’s 58.

SAME STORY EACH WAY!  While shingled roofs allowed water into the buildings,  most metal roofs remained intact.  NO INTERNAL DAMAGE.  I asked my  insurance adjustor if my observations were accurate?  I guessed a 50-1 ratio between shingled or metal.  He said “…you are no where close”.

Lots of bad weather lately.  Hard to work outside.  Today and yesterday it has been nice.   Roof work every where.   Our people voted to allow metal roofs now.  But—they are more expensive.

CUT TO THE CHASE.  Shouldn’t replacement and new roofs in certain coastal and suspect geographical areas be metal?  Is a study worthwhile considering how to make metal roofs more accessible?   Should governments from local to federal  be concerned about not going through this nightmare again.  Insurance companies?   Certainly homeowners and businesses who are rebuilding.  New ones?

Our people know the scoop now.  Still pricing has people rebuilding with shingles.  While “I won’t be around for the next one” may be true, don’t you want your heirs to avoid this trauma?  Will the extra cost of metal now yield higher resale?

Time for some thought.  Action.  Do your own survey.  How many tarps on shingles roofs.  Metal?  Best evidence?   Check the old tobacco barns with intact metal tops!

If, in fact, the next FLORENCE styled storm is 100 years away –newly added metal roofs will join the tobacco barns as survivors.



I thought Jeff Bridges stole the Golden Globe 2019 show.  Tis good to be here NOW.   Maybe we all can become “trim tabs”:

 Trim tabs are little rudders on big ocean tankers, and that piece of information may not seem relevant in the context of a glitzy award show, but let Jeff explain:

“I like to think of myself as a trim tab and all of us are trim tabs,” he said. “It may seem that we’re not up to the task,  but we are, man. We’re alive. We can make a difference. We can turn this ship in the way we want to go, man! Towards love, to creating a healthy planet for all of us.”

Lots of stuff I  haven’t seen, but I did see VICE.  Breaths there a soul so dead that hasn’t realized what a mistake going into Iraq was, and remains.  Check VICE!

“…we have seen the enemy and it is us”  (POGO).

ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA a great series with best actress  Patricia Arquette winning the golden globe.

Continuing with my recents reviews and recommendations, next on my list is “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”.   Haven’t even seen the film but the various trailers on you tube guarantee my attendance.  The Coens strike again.  And, while checking on Buster I found an all time best short film.  THE GUNFIGHTER (WITH THE “VOICE”)  lasts ten minutes.  Check it out .  “…but he was!”


The other night I was thinking about the college professor who guided me from a major in business to majoring in English and following my passion. Her name was Dr. Mildred Hartsock and she was the head of the English Department at Atlantic Christian College. My googling revealed the attached article your brother Tom wrote that mentioned Dr. Hartsock. As I read his article I was struck by his wisdom about racism and his declarations strongly opposing it. Bold words especially years ago when he took his stand and spoke the truth. And now, knowing you and recognizing your dedication to equality and justice what he writes so honestly is a strong tribute to your parents and the Parham family.
I’m sure you read this article back when it was written but I thought you might enjoy reading it again. Everything he says is relevant still today…racism must always be denounced and led by people like Coach Tom Parham…and you.
Enjoy your day…this made mine brighter!
The note above was sent to  me by my sister, Gerry Ritter.  Thanks to Gerry and Rick Chappell , the note’s author.
    The link attached will access my book, ALOT (a level of thinking),  through the first 100 of 225 pages.  This section is now free.  Also linkage to 337 articles is listed (www.tomparham.wordpress.com)

My father, E.T. Parham and wife, Geneva, were kind people.  I think my Sister has done more  like–kindness than  I.  Bob Dylan,  asked about doing it all over responded, “…I would be more kind.”
Again, to access the free 100 pages of ALOT, scroll down to  “selected pages”.  The first picture is of four women, my Mom and her sisters.  Punch it and scroll backwards to the blue cover and book’s page 1.
A cover of THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS  is also posted.  These two and PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS are the best of my seven .   All now can be accessed freely, as well as the aforementioned blog.  Other books include, 1. HELPING,  2. THANKSGIVING  3. NEARLY  FIFTY  and  “COUNTRY”.
(“… that’s all she wrote, the pencil broke”).  tp


Tom Parham <ethomasparham@gmail.com>


The Raleigh News and Observer published an article by Barry Jacobs on November 30, 2018.   Mr. Jacobs made particular note of the increasing percentage of international collegiate basketball players in the United States. He also pointed out the history of this issue with other sports in the USA.

American college tennis, men and women’s, has struggled with this issue for more than fifty years. Any sport that is played internationally

( basketball, soccer, track and field, golf, and others) will have people who will want the education we offer. Often via scholarships funded by state tax revenues. The tennis tsunami is expanding.

The IntercollegiateTennis Association is the NCAA affiliate that manages college tennis in large part. Periodically they rank the teams, and singles and doubles

They rank men and women in NCAA Divisions 1,11, and 111, the NAIA, and Junior colleges. Having just read these 2018 fall rankings (google ITA TENNIS) and anyone can see the listing of the top players) my observations of these current lists reflect the long time history of college tennis:

  1. I once asked a player of mine who had just won, who he played next? Another “strom” he said. Lots of Ovas in women’s tennis now.   Lots of oriental names in women’s LPGA?   Don’t see as many Reggie Williams or Sol Epsteins. It is not the Smiths and Jones who are on the lists. And taking the scholarships.
  2. Sure, Americans are great mixture of people and names, but believe me, I have studied the lists a lot, and the rosters that reflect their nationality . Pick a school, google men’s tennis . Tag the roster and see for yourself. Just recently I researched the total rosters of Division 11’s top six mens teams. Of 63 players on the combined rosters, 62 were international. Six schools, one American. When I saw the USTA figure of some 25% of college tennis players being internationals, I cringed.   TRY 80% of top players.
  3. No scholarships for American kids, no elite players. Our great players, past and current, come from parents, high school and college tennis. Not Academies or the USTA.
  4. Is diversity our goal, or winning, or our children? Scholarships are the answer. Should our kids get the lion’s share.?
  5. Is this spreading? Like kudzu !!! And the most cruel sport is basketball, given the need of the players.

In 1998 I wrote the BLACK BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (BCA) acknowledging this change. A copy is enclosed. Twenty years! Who will be playing on our collegiate teams twenty years from now.

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