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).


For anyone who is interested in my writing, here are links to my books:

  1. THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS is my opus.
  2. PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS. My first book.
  3. A LOT ( A Level of Thinking). A mixture of serious and fun items, collected by an old coach.
  4. HELPING.  This includes more tennis, much post-THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS.  Much is a repetition of blog articles.  Maybe more important is the back half of this book , as it chronicles a thorough collection of data on the issue (s) of international college tennis players in the USA.  The history of this ongoing  problem is here.
  5. THANKSGIVING.  This is a hard copy of selected blog articles, writings, family history.  Personal pictures in the back are beach and family/friend/fish oriented.
  6. NEARLY FIFTY.   My friend, Earl  (Country) Boykin of Rock Ridge, N.C,  hosted a  “duck hunting party” for fifty – one years continuously.   It started with the first super bowl. We moved to Back Creek near Bath, N.C.  and did run over a duck. From there to Emerald Isle, N.C. The book reviews, through print and pictures, the principal characters, and some of the events.


Someone once said of pro basketball, “…give them both 100 points and just play two minutes”!  Granted they play a season that is too demanding to play wide open for  90 games.  Many times I hear people say they won’t watch pro basketball. Still, if you haven’t watched the NBA playoffs, you have missed the greatest athletes since Samson.  The Final Four in college basketball is evidence of attrition in intense playoffs.  Duke and Zion and Shoegate caused pre- tournament pause.    Then Auburn and Texas Tech lose their top players.  Then Baylor’s MVP in the women’s final.
All knees,  and  tv showed they weren’t fake injuries.  Ouch!
Rules are changing to protect players.  Should we pay them? Insure them?  Deferred payment?  Lawsuits for head injuries?
In the early 70’s I asked an opposing basketball coach about the kind of kid one of his players was.  His response:  “Wasn’t nothing to him till I whipped him with a jump rope   I kept in my office!”  I was stunned and said “Coach, you didn’t really do that?” Meaning I didn’t think he would do it.  He took it all together differently.   He thought I meant he  wasn’t capable of doing that.  Thus he said  ” I stood in the doorway.  He couldn’t get out.  I did   (another of his star players) the same way!”
Lots of changes since those days when “mean man coaches” were the norm.  Almost had to be one to get a job.
Forty years ago my team won the NAIA men’s tennis title.  One of my players had congenital emphysema, yet won three,  three set matches in one day.  All coaches can remember those instances.  Athletics provides those moments and opportunities.  And we don’t want to lose that.   If there  is middle ground now is the time to find it.  But if players (and parents)  think the goals they dream of come easy,  those goals  will go un-scored.
-Excerpt From: Tom Parham. “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” Apple Books.
Secondly, I see the young coaches work the kids too much. Your players are not employees, or machines, and you can run them in the ground. Perhaps the biggest criticism I heard of my teams was that we didn’t work hard enough. But, at tournament time we were fresh, eager and goal oriented. Very often we waxed the “hard workers” whose coach had worn them beyond caring much.
I never had a team that wasn’t ready to put away the racket for a while at the end of the season. It’s call “periodization.”
Old football player–“Our coach is willing to lay down our lives for his school.”


Dr. Annand Jaggi, a full professor of our small college’s economics department, was state champion in his native India, and ranked 13th once in the world of badminton.  I was of  the few who would try to play with him.  I finally told him I wouldn’t  play with him anymore. WHY, quizzed the shuttlecock whiz?

Annand, I play as hard as I can.  I can play good or bad.  Doesn’t matter.  The score is 21-0, 21-0, maybe 21-1 regardless.  Being brahman, Annand didn’t think I had the right to quit.

I’m telling you–the guy’s backhand overhead was as good as his forehand smash.  In the state finals at Duke university he always won the men’s singles.  And the doubles and mixed doubles too, if his partner obeyed his single advice:  You just stay out my way.

As the college tennis coach he asked me to help him learn tennis.  Scary, I thought.  And I I did, as we were truly colleagues.  He got better. and better quickly.  “I think I will play on the town  tennis ladder.  I saw where you are #1 singles.”

Truly, not Wimbledon and not for long.   For one shining moment I clawed my way to the top, with many of the better players not competing that hot summer period.  Shortly and impressively Annand climbed the ladder.  15, 10, 5, 2, phone call.   “You may have noticed I am now #2 and thereby demand a challenge to you for #1!

No “fans” saw the match. Hot August day.  Grim.  Somehow I won 7/5, -7/5.  We shook hands. First there was no comment.   Then, our parting words.

Annand:  Well, Tom, you are the tennis coach,  you SHOULD be #1!

Coach:  Annand, you are a full professor of economics, and the head of the department.  You should be the richest son of a bitch in town.

I was amazed that someone picked the NCAA basketball final four bracket perfect, through  the first two rounds.  Fifty one games. One in a billion.  I you-tubed this guy.  Was it Michael Jordan or Coach K?  Red Auerbach?  Claire Bee from the grave?  Surely an athlete.  The Silver guy?   A savant?

Nope.  Plain as dirt.  So un-athletic  he couldn’t get the ear plug in for the interview.

I’m writing this and a poem (below) because my daughter in law, Angie, dissed me in family NCAA pool : ” Mom, I kicked Tom’s ass!”  So did your three year old son, Lennox.  and Charles BARKley.








Mull er, mule er, Ashtabula.

Daffy, Donald, rump and dump.

Hot dogs, French fries. Soc and Beulah.

Scandals, vandals, broken handles,

Use both hands and pump.


Throw out the life line,

Someone is sinking today.

Don’t think we can take much more?

Throw out the life line—

Throw out the life line,

We are drifting too far from shore


Waylon \Willie- Jimmy Carter Billy.

Dylan villain? Don’’t be silly,

Listen to the lines.

Girls are better. Ask Loretta. Emmy Lou and Dolly.

Music can save your very soul,

Forehand, backhand, serve and volley


(ALBERT JOE and the Billy Goat Dance)

Abba joe from balt e mo

Get your skinny tight pants.

Billy goats, nanny goats,

Evah body dance


Huey duey donald duck and daffy

Uncle looey’s dirty jokes,

Made evah body laffy


Looey looey barbequey,

Momma likes a toddy.

Legoes and pregoes,

Dinners get shoddy


Daddy cooks, momma looks,

Bubble gum and bumble bees,

Eat your greens , fart your beans

We all dance for honey.


In a well? Ring my bell!

Up a tree? Call on me.

Rodger lodger, dirty codger.

Roger dodger man to see.


Hootchie kootchie

Momma louchie—

Bobawhobahah, bobaloochie,

Evah body dance




With your hands in your pockets

And your pockets in your pants,

Watching all the fishees do

The hootchie kootchie dance.


Hootchie kootchie, Alabama

Marmalade and jelly.

Put your shoes back on,

Your feets are too smelly.


Rodger dodger, hootchie kootchie

Hokey pokey ants.

Come on down to pete’s

And watch the billy goat dance.


Hootchie kootchie james and lennox

Watching daddy dance.

They got their hands in their pockets

And their pockets in their pants.



Andre Parham

Mon, Mar 25, 10:49 PM (5 days ago)

Grand Babies

Today at 8:36 PM
With your feet in your socks
And your socks in your shoes,
Watching all the turtles do
The Grand Daddy blues.
Shimmy shimmy coco puffs
Partying with Mr. Diesel
Milk and ice cream sandwiches
It’s so fun, but not always legal.
Shimmy shimmy coco puffs
Shimmy shimmy pow!
Come on down to Bubbie’s house
The beach’ll make you say, “Wow!”
Playing fun games with Lennox and James
Watching Granddad  pose
They got their toes in the sand
And the sand in their toes.