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).


The movie, GENIUS , is the story of author, Thomas Wolfe and his editor,  Max Perkins of Shribner’s Publishing.

One scene’s set is a speak easy in Harlem.  Wolfe, exasperated at Perkins  lack of vices, finally tries music?

Wolfe:  What kind of music?

After a long pause and thought,   the famous editor ventures  “…well, I like FLOW GENTLY  SWEET AFTON!”  Of course the lyrics of this song are from a poem by  Robert Burns.  Known  widely almost hymn-like.  And done in somber fashion.

Wolfe responds by going to the band’s director, putting a bill in his hand as  requests the song.



ON FINDING ROCK AND ROLL   (From Play is Where Life Is by tp-page 40-41)

(with a nod to Jack Hussey)

Jack had migrated to Robbins having attended “rural” Westmoore until his junior year. Jack was a whole new story. His grandfather, with whom he lived, was a chicken farmer and did well. Plus Jack would work hard. He was always working wide open and making money. We called him “nickels and dimes” later in college, as he played every jukebox he passed (six songs for a quarter).

Jack also liked girl children, sports, and cars, anything that went fast. We played all sports together in high school, plus college basketball.

Jack always had a handful of money. One trip he and I made featured me getting off work at 9:30 pm, riding 157 miles to the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Jack told me “I’m going down there and play every pinball game they have until I beat each one.” My allowance went fast but I watched the sun rise at the same time I watched Jack complete the whole Pavilion circuit. We rode back to Robbins.

The beach was magic. We’d sneak into El’s Pad at Ocean Drive and watch the big kids. I remember hearing “Don’t Be Cruel” continuously for three hours at the outdoor jukebox and dance floor across from El’s, next to the ocean. We had a white guy who could rock. Actually, Jack was more like Jerry Lee Lewis and all those songs remind me of Jack today. I sent him the Jerry Lee CD last year (2006). “Great Balls of Fire”.

I owe Jack. He hauled me everywhere, caught my passes, lent me money, and took me to the Rock and Roll Shows.

Sure enough, if you watched the Raleigh News and Observer in the mid to late fifties soon you’d see an ad for a show at Memorial Auditorium in our capitol.

This wouldn’t be one act. Sure there were “head liners.” Mostly “Fats” Dom ino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Sherelles, Ruth Brown, and on and on. All the great ones and they’d come in bus loads. Sometimes as many as a dozen different performances or groups. We’d go early and watch them pile out of the buses. Occasionally Jackie found a glass jar full of quarters and half-dollars, his grandfather had buried on the farm. The old man didn’t trust banks because of “The Depression”. Upon finding one of their treasures we were apt to follow the shows from Raleigh to Greensboro or Winston-Salem, over to Charlotte on consecutive nights.

This was pre-integration. The blacks sat in the balcony and fought with the cops who wouldn’t let them dance in the aisles. One night the ruckus got so bad they dropped the stage curtain on “Fats” as he sung “Blueberry Hill”. Another highlight featured a golden suited Marvin Gaye, who while singing a medley, began to discard garments of gold. First, a coat, then shoes, a golden tie and shirt. Finally, as he revealed golden boxer shorts, Marvin and the band switched to “I’ll be doggone.” Classic!

Jack had a “56 black and white befender- skirted Mercury and it would fly. And he’d let it. Minimum 80 mph. The route to Raleigh featured a long sharp curve that Jackie had set the record on while rounding it, and he’d try to top his “personal best” every trip.




UPHEAVAL by Jared Diamond deals with several different nations and crises they confront.  Chapter 9 deals with the USA and asks “What lies ahead for the US?  Strengths, and the biggest problem.”

*Wealth-Geography-Advantages of democracy-Other advantages-Political polarization-Why?  Other polarization.


Below are notes I took for myself as reminders from the text:


  1.  Wealth- size and resources.  2.  Military -10 Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.  France has the only other.  3. “Wedge shaped” geography and temperate zones for agriculture.  4.  Waterways —shipping by water 10-30 times cheaper.  Rivers plus great lakes.  Plus  Atlantic on one side, Pacific on other is unique, and with barrier islands also to protect us.  4.  Advantages of democracy (Churchill’s quote–worst form of government except for everything else tried.  Citizens can propose, and debate. (Vietnam, Germany/Hitler), Less civil violence.  5. Compromise.  6.  Federal govt. 50 states differ (turning right on red – Calif, assisted suicide, pot, tax rates, ) 7. Citizens control the military.  8.  Limited overt corruption, but covert is bad i.e. the influence of wall street, lobbyists, illegal contributions. 8. Public investment in education, technology, research (half of major top 10 scientific univ in U.S.), Infrastructure. inventions. 11. Immigration.  surprise!  1 of 3 nobel prize winners from U.S. are foreign  born.


“The first, and I feel the most ominous, of fundamental problems now threatening American democracy is our accelerating deteriorating of political COMPROMISE.”

2.  ELECTIONS:  Diamond quote:  “If a country has a constitution or laws specifying democratic government but the country’s citizens don’t or can’t vote, such a country doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy.”

3.  INEQUALITY:  Again, a quote from the book: “Sadly the problem is making itself worse; economic inequality has been increasing, and socio-economic mobility has been decreasing, in the U.S. over the course of recent decades.”

4.  INVESTMENT:  Education/more on prisons.  Declining performance of students.   Working two jobs.

“The result  is that the U.S. is losing its former competitive advantage that rested on an educated workforce, and on science and technology.”

Page 379

QUESTION:  When will the U.S. take its problems seriously?

ANSWER:  When powerful rich Americans begin to feel physically unsafe.





Jared Diamond’s new book (May 2019) dealS with crisis.  His chapter on his fears about the United States includes this sentence:

“The first, and I feel the most ominous, of fundamental problems now threatening American democracy is our accelerating deteriorating of political compromise.”




On decency (384)

Perhaps  the moment  most remembered from the McCarthy hearings was the  question “have you no decency, sir?”

Having rerun the tape of Eric Swalwell supposedly farting during the impeachment hearing,  I wonder how low current politics will dip.

I drove a van full of college male athletes for forty years of fart and giggle.  No one ever admitted to farting.

The ability to edit tapings now days and the lack of decency concerns me.  Eric said “…it wasn’t me, as they all do.   Still my finely tuned ear and experience with farters, coupled with technology, makes me wonder.  When they slow down the speed juxtaposing sound with facial expression (he sort of smiles with a sigh of relief that  is damning),  they are close to reality.

If they photo-shopped the whole deal why pick on Swalwell?  My choice would be  Gordon Sondland,  whose face looks like he just farted all the time.  How about Fiona Hill.  Was it a male only sounding fart?

Two certainties:   The current government knows the arena of dirty (excuse the pun) tricks.  They do get a kick out of juvenile behavior.

Were Trump and Giuliani off somewhere giggling together, when the bomb exploded?  Who provided the original soundtrack– Chris Christie?





“…get all the good players  you can get in legally.  After recruiting is complete coach the hell out of those you wound up with.”   Macky Carden, football coach, Elon College, circa 1985.

and, same source, “…  em ole coaches will find some loopholes. boy.  Let me tell you!”

College football bowl game profits go to the schools and bowls.

The NCAA makes tons on March Madness basketball.  They have loosened  some transfer rules.  It remains to be seen how this works out.  Certainly how to properly govern the “paying of the players” will merit attention.

Some recent ploys include 1. one and  done . 2. International  athletes.  3. Finding high profile substitutes willing  to transfer to a “lesser” school.  4. Mid year recruits. 5. More red-shirting.

I could not believe it when a division 1 basketball team  openly played an ineligible player in this early season.

A large number of players, great students, graduate from one school early, and with a year of eligibility remaining.  Transferring after graduation they can go to a different school, get an advanced degree and continue to play.

Should we label them DONE AND ONE?



Anyone else fed up with panels of all the same ilk trashing  the absent opponents?

How  about the admonishments of “…don’t anyone say anything about politics!”


Our 17 year “longest war”seems to have no ending?  It had a beginning!  It got vitriolic

when ‘W”and his gang burned up a budget surplus by writing their war “off the books”.

Speaking of admonishments, how about “…don’t go in there (the mid-east.)  You will own it!”  —PoppaBush and Scocroft.

Six trillion in deficit spending jump started the hemorrhaging of cash that is now 22 trillion of national debt.  (no blood mentioned).

Soon the lines were drawn.

Being from the sports world, we settled it head on.  Coaching tennis for forty years, the format we used  was 6-3.  Six singles matches, three doubles matches. Match wins count one point. Lineups in order of ability.

Example:  One head to head would look something like this:


FOX TEAM           VS                CNN

#1 male player from Fox  vs  #1male  player from CNN

#1 woman player from Fox vs   #1woman player from  CNN

#2 Male  Fox VS # 2 male player from CNN


#3 Males

#3 Women

These are your six singles matches or points. now


#1 twosome men from fox  vs  #1  twosome men from CNN.

#1 or best women’s doubles from fox, vs same from CNN

Note the next match often determines the winner in tight matches.

This match then will be a mixed doubles match (one man plays with one woman).

This could get messy.  Mixed doubles is a lot like warfare.  So be it.

George Carlin on changing the rules of football:  LEAVE  THE WOUNDED ON THE FIELD.