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).


Early beach fashion seems to suggest thongs are to be more prevalent this season. Even with the virus rules and cool March weather a lot have been “popping out”.
However something has to be done. We go to the shore quite often. My grandson and I like to throw stale bread to the seagulls. With none is sight, a throng of fowls will somehow gather instantly.
Today the weather is really nice. A group of young girls descended locally.
Much like the seagulls, a group young men appeared almost instantly. There was blatant violation of the social distance requlations.
Plus they blocked the view.


Let’s Make American Tennis Great Again
(Dan Parham)

– 5 minute overview, 10 minutes questions after my overview
– Today I will focus on a proposed solution … if anyone would like to talk more about how we ended up in this position, I’m happy to answer those questions over a beer after my allotted time today.

Over the past 35 years, the number of top ranked US players has declined drastically. For example, right now there are zero top 10 ranked men in the ATP, and two in the WTA. By comparison, in 1970, there were x men and x women in the top 10. Additionally, we’re giving approximately 7,000 scholarships a year (~$200m/year) to international players. In comparison, the USTA spends $18m/year on player development.

What if we invested these resources into American tennis players? Would we see a dramatic increase in top ranked players in the next 10 years? Either way, we will have allocated tens of thousands of scholarships to young Americans, investing over $250m in educational resources into the US economy. Let’s build a coalition of supporters of American tennis to test this theory. Our goal is the adoption of a new policy by the NCAA that requires 70% of men’s and women’s scholarships to be allocated to US citizens over the next 10 years.

Measuring success
We expect to see a 300% increase in Americans in the top ten men’s and women’s worldwide rankings by 2027 (ten years).

Accomplishing our goal
Today we are all here as leaders in the American college tennis community. We have the potential to build a grassroots coalition of likeminded supporters of American tennis. Once we determine our strategy, we can leverage our collective relationships to determine the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of our campaign. We’ll start by privately approaching Tim Russell, CEO of the ITA privately, and understand the ITA Board’s concerns with our proposal. Once we have their support (or opposition), we will reach out to the ITA coaches to help us demonstrate their support for our proposal. We’ll state the potential benefits and consequences of this policy shift, and petition the NCAA to make the changes. If they refuse to consider our proposal, we’ll explore a legal approach.

The first question is, is it legally possible to reserve a percentage of scholarships for US citizens? We may need to hire a legal expert to determine the complexity of our proposal if necessary. We need to understand the incentives of the ITA Board, the ITA members, NCAA, or USTA have an incentive to incur the cost of fighting this proposal. We should address any negative consequences in our proposal. For example, we understand that we would eliminate some great international players (and scholars) from our institutions. It is also probable that the overall quality of competition would decrease in the near term, and that this could put some smaller college programs at risk. Finally, there would be a decrease in the “diversity” of students in our higher education institutions. We are willing to take these risks.

Next Steps
Determine the right legal and financial structure to support this campaign. Is there an existing non-profit that we could leverage as a fiscal sponsor to move more quickly?
Start a coalition of supporters to staff and fund this campaign. Establish a working leadership council with clear roles and responsibilities, and a decision making process.
Identify an internal or external program manager with campaign experience and strong relationships in the ITA to plan, manage, and execute our campaign.
If we face resistance from the ITA or NCAA, we will need to hire a legal team experienced in NCAA policy and laws to litigate this proposed change.
Identify the ideal leader for the campaign coach.


Years back my wife wanted to white water raft “the Gauley” in West Virginia. I watched.
Afterwards we decided to ride down in the valley. We came upon a trailer park which we rode through. Gotta say there were some rough looking abodes. Near the end one stood out as the absolute worst. A sign nailed on a tree explained: GROUND UNDER REPAIR.
I am working on rearranging these blogs. Hopefully they will be organized in a better order. Could take a while.

PS? Remember Jesco, “The Dancing Outlaw”. Summer home?
Keep Boone County Clean.


The Browns were famous in Robbins. Frank, Cotton, Bobby, Charlie, and of course, the youngest Leon, were pretty damned formidable in 1952. There was another uncle and cousin I never met. They had then been gunned down earlier on the main street of Robbins. My future brother-in-law, Harold Ritter, gave me a firsthand eyewitness account of the event, having been in the general store where it occurred at the time.
Harold recounted the fact that the town policeman, a man named Moxley, tried to arrest the father-son combination within the store. They gunned Moxley down, and he fell behind the counter. As they drew a breath and relaxed, Moxley rose with two bullets in him, and put one each of his own in each Brown. The Browns never moved, one hit between the eyes. Moxley died in the street on the way to the doctor. The building later became the town’s water plant office. The front windowpane, shattered by one of their stray bullets, was bound and boarded and bolted back together. You were thus reminded of town lore as you walked past the water plant and Frye’s Store, one of the town hubs. Frye’s Store, at that time, was a simple shot-gun general store and shoe store. It endeared itself to me first for its outside sign: “Frye’s Shoes. Boys, we got’em.”


The Ritters were the real deal for a boy. Their garage housed possums, shot guns, dead squirrels, a “telephone” for electrifying scale-less river critters, and boundless fire crackers (near dynamite).
And they were adventuresome. Both Harold and Paul joined the Marines and served in Korea. Pete and Otis were Navy.
Amazing all survived although Paul, later died of Agent Orange.
Wednesday night was a big night later at the Ritters. Gillette’s Calascade of Sports (Boxing on TV). Remember the big parrot carrying the round numbers?
Walt, the old man was a big burly, funny guy. And sober he was a treat. Sober didn’t happen with a lot of mill workers, but on Wednesday night we watched the fights. Walt pulled for whoever the white guy was. For me, Kid Gavilan, Jersey Joe Walcott, Joe Louis, and Rocky Marciano, were the gods.
Once the boys built a tree house nailing wooden refrigerator boxes stacked on one another, nailed only to the pine tree with a 10-penny nail or two.
To test the safety of the ascent, Otis, at 70 lbs. and 10 years, was comman- deered to climb the boxes. Things went well til the sixth and highest box, where the angle of Otis’ weight, such as it was, caved in the architecture.
The gash in Otis’ head caused concern only because Ruth was due in soon, and Mother Ruth was tough. Harold, who had always been able to fix anything, was nearly through sewing up the wound with Ruth’s needle and thread when she walked in on everyone’s observation of Harold’s needlework.
Hell to pay. Otis didn’t really care.
There was safely in being a Ritter boy. Plus I got first access to all the stories about Walt and his brother, Uncle Harvey.
Walt and Harvey bought some Moore County farmland and called their spread he “Ponderosa”.
The Ponderosa provided a weekend respite from the grind of mill work. White liquor was the catalyst for brotherly love.
Once Harold and Paul were dispatched to retrieve Walt and Uncle Harvey. It was Tuesday and they’d “laid out” of work for two days. Enough Ruth decided. Go get ‘em.
It was a hot sand hills day in northern Moore County. No Yankees at the end of the county. As the sons rounded the dirt road to the Ponderosa gate Uncle
Harvey was seen driving the John Deere tractor calmly dragging Walt, who was unconscious and tied to the tractor by a ten foot chain.
“Uncle Harvey, what are you doing to Dad?”
“Well boys, he’s been so drunk I couldn’t move him out of the sun, and damn, it’s hot. I was afraid he might have a heat stroke, so I’m moving him over into the shade.”
There were periods of sobriety. But there were times when one simply needed a drink. Once, Walt, the needy, arranged a deal with Uncle Harvey who was “on the wagon”.
Harvey needed a difficult bull loaded on to “Old Dodgey” his pick up truck. The deal was Walt would use an electric prod on the bull’s rear end as Harvey backed “Old Dodgey” to the bull. For his part Walt would be driven to the booze store and given a pint of WRL (Walk, Run and Lay Down) liquor. Otherwise, known as cheap stuff. Walt, already considerably tight, miscalculated and prodded the bull’s testicles. The bull leaped over the bed of the truck on to the top of the cab, crushing it down. Old Dodgey on Harvey.
The bull fell back into the bed, winning the argument for Walt over Harvey, contending the bull was in the truck, and that was the deal.
The boys recall seeing the bull tied in the back of Old Dodgey, both 300 pound Harvey and Walt squatted low in the crushed cab, on the way to deliver the bull with a brief stop at the ABC store.


There was another church character that demanded attention. Fremont Yow was a retarded man who looked like “Crazy Guggenhiem” from the Red Skelton Show. He was harmless but quite dirty and tough to understand. Fremont rarely missed church and sat on the front row, which pushed the Baptists even further back in the pews. Often unsuspecting newcomers would locate near him. He would soon get their attention by groaning, making unrelated audible comments, or rolling and flipping a booger across several aisles. Again I lived for these moments.
My dad would drive him home after church. In 1957 my dad, for some unknown reason bought a ’57 Chevy, the classic aquamarine and white one. Gorgeous. And it had two four barrel carburetors. Why he selected this creature for our family who knows, but I was the envy of the neighborhood NASCAR wannabees. Stock car racing was growing and we were twenty miles from Randleman, Level Cross, and the Petty family. Once I could drive that beast Dad was fairly free with it. He began to ask me to drive Fremont home. Here’s the scene; after church mom sat shotgun by me, I’d drop them at the parsonage, and drive Fremont – seated in the back – to his home.
Once out of sight, and on and the “straight” to the crossroads, Fremont and I would roll the windows down and I’d floor it. I can see him now; hand on his cruddy man’s hat, laughing toothlessly as we roared upwards of 100 MPH.
When I’d Blues Brothers the newfound jet into his dirt yard, he’d giggle and waddle up to the front porch, where from behind a screen door his mom in flour sack dress peered suspiciously at me.
I never went in.


There were periods of sobriety. But there were times when one simply needed a drink. Once, Walt, the needy, arranged a deal with Uncle Harvey who was “on the wagon”.
Harvey needed a difficult bull loaded on to “Old Dodgey” his pick up truck. The deal was Walt would use an electric prod on the bull’s rear end as Harvey backed “Old Dodgey” to the bull. For his part Walt would be driven to the booze store and given a pint of WRL (Walk, Run and Lay Down) liquor. Otherwise, known as cheap stuff. Walt, already considerably tight, miscalculated and prodded the bull’s testicles. The bull leaped over the bed of the truck on to the top of the cab, crushing it down. Old Dodgey on Harvey.
The bull fell back into the bed, winning the argument for Walt over Harvey, contending the bull was in the truck, and that was the deal.
The boys recall seeing the bull tied in the back of Old Dodgey, both 300 pound Harvey and Walt squatted low in the crushed cab, on the way to deliver the bull with a brief stop at the ABC store.