The Little Green Book of Tennis (2nd edition)

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] 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).


Wayne Bryan, Father of the tennis twins, wrote a long, thoughtful letter to the USTA some while ago. My blog 117 condenses a  few points from the letter. My blog 169 calls for a powerful “Gorilla Bureaucrat” to throw appropriate light on the exit of college tennis scholarships  to international players. And to the link between no scholarships for American players and no quality American players winning slams or even getting close. For years no one has done much to confront this cocktail of demise for American tennis. Contrarily, Coach Bryan may now have hit a major nerve with American parents.
Google Wayne Bryan’s letter to the USTA, circa 2012. Then follow the link to Patrick McEnroe’s response.  Along with both long letters, it is essential to read the attached comments.

My gratitude to Coach Bryan includes appreciation for his effort to change the situation.  Having similar feelings for over 40 years of coaching college tennis, I am also aware of the need for powerful leadership capable of rattling the cage of tennis people in America.  (See blog 169, again.)

Having read Mr. Bryan’s letter and Mr. McEnroe’s response, I then tallied the comments  about Internationals in American college tennis.  These represent about 30% of the total comments on the letter.

Summarizing the pros and cons these main  themes showed up:

NO CHANGE NEEDED.  1.  Internationals add diversity to our school.  Better players, better attitudes.   2.  Our school’s tennis team quality would be drastically reduced with US only, or limited rosters.  3.  The USTA doesn’t govern college tennis,  the NCAA does.  4.  Limitation   is  unconstitutional.

I  don’t disagree with 1 or 2.  Number 3 needs some comment.  While the NCAA governs Divisions 1,2,3  the INTERCOLLEGIATE TENNIS ASSOCIATION   is an affiliate of the NCAA. It’s predominate membership is made up of college coaches.  Historically there was a serious move to have a 50/50  limit,  or half of scholarships allotted  to be reserved for Americans.  And, in fact, the voting college coaches approved this “quota” by a substantial margin.  While this recommendation passed, it was never implemented.   Why?   Number 4 or legality.   While the precedent for legal concern only has a  1970 track case as the law on this question,  there  were also  many behind the scene concerns  by the ITA.  Mainly there was the fear of a threat to withdraw from the ITA by many of large and successful schools and their coaches.  MY guess is COLD FEET stopped this effort.

Some are rethinking #4.  With only the 1970 track precedent, is it not possible to reserve  American monies for American young people?   Would the NCAA go to court on the issue? Is it true the NCAA is not a “state actor”, i.e, able to make decisions in the best interest of the organization?

Coach Bryan’s letter elicited  many strong comments from  American parents.  One included a similar core belief that I have been convinced  of, more so lately.  That being there is a direct correlation between very limited good scholarship availability equals very few high  quality American players.  In affect the NCAA having given not only American college tennis to internationals, but the opportunity to strive for scholarships and perhaps development into the high level players that are so missing at the upper level.

Here a  few comments and thoughts:


My guess an American on a tennis would  aid roster diversity.  One coach said “…quotas would bring back discrimination against Jewish and African American kids (This concern was expressed in  the 80’s at an NAIA  national tournament with a draw of 256 players.  There were no Jewish entries,  and one black player,  Wayman Tisdale’s nephew).   I don’t think there was a Klan entry.   28 of the 32  seeds were international.

My team played one of the top teams in the nation that year at their place.  Match started  at 1pm on a beautiful Sunday.  Their coach stated half way through the match, that it was the best match they’d played at home.  Near the end of the match I asked if he’d consider recruiting a player from this state?  It was a state funded university, yet with a typical all international roster.  His response was “…Oh no! Our fans wouldn’t  tolerate a lesser quality of team!”   I couldn’t resist noting that there were three non-players in attendance–me, him, and his school’s financial aid officer.

I saw several schools who fit this description:   (a)  a very talented men’s all foreign team (b) a much lesser skilled all girls team with American players.  The girls stands were full, the men’s stands empty.  I am convinced that , other than at the top level of college tennis the only  American players  would draw any fans.  Parents, students, townspeople will follow familiar players.  On the flip side the parents are now very well aware of what’s going on  (“My kids have changed to Lacrosse” is typical commentary.)

Americans have proved the Academy System isn’t for them.  And there is evidence Americans especially don’t want to give up their kids.  No one cares about a player more than parents, coach or not./  Our great success has, in fact, come from a FAMILY model consisting of parental oversight, local pros, free play, tournament play, high school tennis, and college play  (witness Evert and Father, Connors and Mother,  Agassi, Chang, and on and on.  With 17 million USTA dollars producing very little,  Our recent best, John Isner and  Steve Johnson, came from the college/family development process.  The Bryans are similar family/college products.   Our colleges and universities spend 600 million dollars annually on tennis.  And we give that in foreign  to other’s children.  Fifty internationals with American college involvement  played Davis Cup this year for another country.  We lost to Croatia.

We are literally paying to train them, to beat us.

The USTA spent over half a million to enhance the US OPEN.  We may soon have no one to qualify to play under the roof.

Physical size and speed and cultural changes have created a “blow back” from our two big money makers, Football and Basketball.  Bouncing off that wall ,where do our talented kids go?  Are we not in a position to get them to select tennis?  I can tell you it won’t be without college scholarships available.  Witness soccer, baseball, and now Lacrosse.  Or skiing, or worse–extreme sports.  The worst emerging choice is video games.

Being the proverbial  small fish in a small pond, I decided to direct my efforts to helping high school tennis coaches, players and teams.  See THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS.

With more scholarships available, more kids selecting tennis, there would be tremendous  benefit from improving high school tennis.  If nothing else, simply playing some twenty matches per season guided by a competent coach and enthusiastic teammates with the carrot of a possible grant-in-aid would help.

Other sports are following the same route or recruiting internationals.  Basketball for both men and women take away from our poorest population   Fourteen top NBA draft picks were international.  Any international sport (golf, volleyball, cross country/ track and field,  soccer, etc ) will attract coaches and schools only interested in winning.  Coaches can’t be blamed, or entrusted to make change given the threat of being fired.

In 1970 Title 1x became a deserved godsend to our women.  Soccer is the most widespread international sport, yet American men have never won the world cup.  Our women, since 1970, have won three times.  This year’s women’s roster included 23 Americans all of whom played college soccer on soccer scholarships.  Duke’s women’s golf team has finished first and second in NCAA GOLF, the last two years.  Neither year was there an American girl on the roster.  Was this the purpose of title 1x?

It is indefensible to give grants to international without admitting you just bumped an American.



I attended the NC High School’ s tennis coaches clinic in Greensboro last week. This is held and hosted on the UNC-Greensboro campus with Coach Jeff Trivette as chairman. This is the first time in a while I had attended and was impressed as Coach Michael Leonard of Elon University put on a superb doubles clinic for some 150 high school coaches from our state. I attended the first tennis clinic the North Carolina High School Athletic Association held. Wake Forest coach, Jim Leighton was the clinician and there were four coaches at the Latham Park courts. That clinic was the beginning of a different level of desire to be a good coach, for me personally. In 1985 I put on that clinic.

I watched the progress that has been made in high school tennis in our state. The Burlington Tennis Center was and is the site of many state championship tournaments so it was easy to watch many of these.

As I watched the clinic this year I told some one “…there is a lot more CARE in that group than knowledge. Granted several of the coaches demonstrated good skill on the court. I have said all along that a high school coach who cares and drives the van properly is all parents can hope for. Now I think it time to help them. They , by virtue of their attendance and willingness to coach our children, have earned our assistance.


Much is already being done. The NCTA , The USTA, The NCHSAA, The North Carolina High School’s Coaches Association are going hard to help. Where help is needed comes from several sources:

**** Pay for these jobs is meager compared to what is asked and expected.
****The pay will not attract top notch tennis coaches in most instances. Most of the very good ones are volunteers, or close.
*** The typical “assigned” staffer is often a football coach, one who knows nothing about tennis. Or some similar scenario.
****More and more are “adjunct”, or part time coaches, who don’t have even the academic background that teacher/coaches have.

One way to start is a “THINK TANK” or committee to examine what is possible. We have a tremendous group of fine players throughout the state. We have in place an organization of teaching professionals in NC. Many times the best source is a “tennis angel” who silently plays with youngsters. No one gives more than parents. The club pro benefits from high school families.

There is another largely untapped source in our state. The NC TENNIS HALL OF FAME members. There seems to me to be a group of old pros and young turks in our select group who could also help the coaches in their area. Many of the hall of famers and pros are the same people. Many already give or have given to tennis in many ways. There are so many ways these people could enhance the knowledge, confidence, and performance of particularly the beginning coaches. I can’t list them all. Believe me, you can help.

I would also suggest to these coaches to look for the local angels. My experience is these are great people who only need to be asked. It may be one afternoon a week, It may be a helpful phone call. Showing a drill, filling in for an emergency, play an exhibition, take them to a college match, gift of equipment—old or new, simply attend matches, etc.

I think a good place to start “thinking” would be the coaches, the Pros, the angels ,and the organizations to brain storm the how. The why is obvious. And I think there is ample evidence that this help is available. And I am convinced the link between high school and juniors and parents and these volunteers can thrive.
The first place to start is knowledge plus need. Our hall of famers and our professional tennis teachers are where to start.




Not long ago I received a call from a man named John Ormsby from Southern Pines , NC, once a hotbed of Six Man Football. I had played this game designed for small schools and told him what I knew. His book entitled THE HISTORY OF NORTH CAROLINA 6-MAN FOOTBALL is quite detailed. Completing our interview I asked John if he had played the game. No. Why then did he do this detailed work on a seemingly obscure topic? He replied, “… I wanted to be more knowledgeable than anyone on one subject.
One tennis player comes to mind when I ask “who was the most unique player I saw play”: Charlie Owens. The South , and North Carolina specifically, had some great “post-boom” open tennis greats. And great players to copy. Allen Morris had a backhand we marveled at. Tim Wilkison was a boy genius no one could out work. John Sadri’s serve stunned everyone, including McEnroe. But, Charlie.
Allen Morris recently told me “…Charlie beat me one time in a close match, but playing him was so much fun, I really did mind losing. Much. “
Maybe fun is the operative word for Charlie. Personally I never saw anyone close who could play as well while entertaining every one. It wasn’t clowning. Charlie was a world class player that simply had a bag of tricks. Mostly defensive tools, such as a deathly placed lob. Chips and angles, changes of pace and strategy. “WHERE DID THAT COME FROM”?
Satchel Paige said he called his money pitch his “BE BALL”, because it “always be where I want it to be.” Charlie’s ace was that drop shot.
Now a fine teaching pro at Landfall Country Club in close by Wilmington, NC, Charlie granted me some old coach conversation time. Below I have copied writings I have done related to the modern day need to add this tool to American games. The first is from about 2010 until this article. Please excuse the repetition, but I became more convinced of the need to cope with this tactic in American tennis.
The more I wrote the more I thought, I wonder what Charlie would say about this?
Here are some thoughts the “master” shared:
1. The most adamant statement contradicted that this was pure talent. That those great hands were simply heaven sent. No way. He cited several older men from his local club who spent the time beating him with lobs, drop shot, and guile. As a small youngster, one older “wizard “beat me 100 times before I beat him at his own game. He never beat me again”. No, those “tools” were hard earned, no short cuts, but a lifetime of fun and victory.
2. He agreed with the special qualities of this game. It tires opponents at a whole new level. It frustrates and angers even high quality players. It is an option and is capable of making an opponent play in an new and unpracticed game
3. Mini-tennis is the best way to practice the skills needed. Plus play practice.
4. He shared names to remain unspoken who, some world class players, could not adjust to this game.
5. He agreed there are four corners on each side of the court.
6. He agreed women are included in the use and defense of this tactic.
7. “There is no graceful way to run up and dig it out. That’s hard.”
8. “Every one needs plan B”.
9. Families have to support the hard work and discipline required of the student by the pro.
10. It has to be hit “up some’



2. In pro tennis both men and women have learned the virtues of the drop-shot. One–it tires opponents quickly.
Secondly, it has a subtle psychological effect that discourages opponents. Years back I suggested Djokavic and Murray
were the most diligent in pursuing it’s perfection. Didn’t the 2016 French Open prove that. American juniors: Take
heed. Develop your drop-shot. And your DEFENSE AGAINST THE DROP SHOT. That starts with conditioning and footwork/posture.

June 6, 2016 by ethomasparham
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BLOG #10–THE NEXT LEVEL OF TENNIS (December 20, 2010).
BLOG #132 —THE FRENCH OPEN 2015 (June 5, 2015)
The theme of blog #10 predicts the increased use of the drop shot at the high levels of the game. The French Open 2015 doubles down on this idea.
The Men’s singles finals yesterday was Andy vs the Joker. Since 2010 my strong feeling has been that these two had realized the value of the offensive and defensive demands of great drop shots, and worked the hardest at developing the necessary skills.
Yesterday’s rain delay and other duties caused me to abandon my drop shot chart. Over the first several games Novak won 5 of 6 drop shot attempts. He had a wide open down the line pass on the one point he lost. Andy tried two and won both points when I had to miss a lot of the match.
I would love to know the feeling of these two champions as to 1. doesn’t an effective drop-shot have a particularly tiring or fatigue potential 2. as well as a psychological damage that is a corollary weapon.
I don’t think this is going to “back off” any. And I would remind all players that you have to develop defensive quickness, and movement patterns and postures that offset this demon.

June 5, 2015 by ethomasparham
THE FRENCH OPEN 2015 (132)
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The quote below is from a blog article I wrote in 2010 (#10 THE NEXT LEVEL):
“This also makes me wonder about the upward evolution of the game, and who will achieve the next level. Djokovic has almost perfected “corner to corner” baseline strategy. One thing that does seem to be growing in effectiveness is the drop shot. The old adage that “you can’t drop shot on a hard court” is being tested more at the top level.
There are four corners on each side of the court. Two are up at the net. The only player I have seen who could hit a un-returnable drop-shot from the base line was Charlie Owens. Many watched Charlie dismantle quality players with a disguised, feather like drop shot that confounded even great players. Maybe there is someone coming along with this unique touch, who combined with the other tennis skills needed will produce the next level in the never ending evolution of tennis.
Women players might be well advised to note this possibility. And to be aware that not only should she be able to hit drop shots, she must be able to defend against them. My guess is that many players and teachers have realized there are four corners on each side of a tennis court.”

July 6, 2012 by ethomasparham
Moving Along (37)
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I just watched the Wimbledon men’s single semi-finals. If you go to these three strategy articles in review, I think you will find I was pretty close: (1) Basic Tennis Strategy (2) The Circle Stinger and (3) Rafa vs. The Joker.
In the latter, I predicted this season would feature a lot more drop shots (Andy Murray vs. Baghdadis for example). To follow up, or evolve, as a teacher/coach, it then seems we must learn defense against the drop shot. In addition to the basic strokes of tennis there are auxiliary shots (returns, approaches, passing shots, etc. ) with different techniques to be mastered. Drop shots are one of these now more than ever. There are also an unlimited “awkward” shots in tennis (for example a backhand overhead, or running down a “shanked shot”).
These shots, including defending against drop-shots, must be identified, the proper techniques practiced, and implementation mastered. Please remember, players and parents, that this isn’t easy work. Don’t abandon the insightful pro who pushes this mastery, for a guy who simply moves you left and right.
****But the number one rule (I suspect for many women) is…I won’t make you hit awkward balls (up and back movement) if you won’t make me. Deal, left and right only. This one puzzled me. And I tried to develop “Plan B.” Simply stated, “Plan A,” or rallying corner to corner, is okay as long as you can win this way. Once you realize she’s better at this, then we’d better modify.


I have a golf acquaintance that is almost 90 years old. Still plays from the regulation tees and shoots well below his age. He is 6’3″, weighs about 240lbs and looks like he could play tight end in college right now. I asked him what sports he played in high school? I didn’t PLAY anything. I had to work. Tobacco was the worst. (fault line 1).
At 76 (born 1940) my generation was allowed to play. I could be in school, church, working, or on the team. My guess is post WWII boys had fathers who were more willing and able to loosen strings on the family workforce.
The next sports fault line, I think, was that parent who clawed his way to the top through hard work and wanted to give their kids “opportunities I didn’t have!” Admirable but sometimes flawed thinking. Some of these went overboard, giving the kid unlimited time and money for play. Often the youngster began to believe school, work, discipline, were for others. These “pros to come” wound up wondering what happened when the inevitable (for most) work, was unavoidable. “There are two kinds of golf(or tennis) pros: The workers and the players, and all the players are looking for a job!”
One college president said, “…the worst thing for a golfer is to be able to shoot par!” Planning to play for a living is indeed a bad bet.
I don’t want to discourage youngsters from trying their best at sports. Handled right there are great hard work and life lessons in sports. What I am seeing too much of is a more frightening fault line.
A recent beach visit by his grandchildren had an “old coach” friend excited. “I may want you to help with these two on their tennis.” Ready to help, I waited to no avail. I asked Grandpa what happened? “I asked the two of them to go hit four days in a row. Each time they barely looked up from their video games, thumbs twitching, to mumble “Maybe tomorrow, Pop.”
Double fault.



“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (JAWS)

To change an organization you need someone powerful within the organization to champion your cause.
My “cause” is American children and college tennis.
The problem is the decline of high quality players in America.
I am not alone. It is commonly discussed, but “… the wind is blowing but the trees ain’t moving.”
I was advised long ago, but the CEO of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS, having lost my argument, “,,,you are right, don’t quit!”
My guess is the missing link to convincing the “Gorilla Bureaucrat” is data.
To survey the issue of change someone has to collect the data (it is certainly there) which would take passion and funding.
Here is what I speculate and how I would begin to collect the data:
PRIMISE: American tennis players would improve drastically if college tennis scholarships were not given predominantly to internationals.

1. Collect data (where, what, how?)
2. Where? The major divisions in college athletics are NCAA, 1,11,111, and NAIA (smaller colleges), men and women. Coaches, Athletic Administrators, Sports Information Departments, Conferences and National offices, local media, the USTA, The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), tennis publications, the players themselves.
***Rosters from the past. Top eight teams, top eight players’ homes. How many scholarships were awarded and to whom. Percentage of allotment awarded to internationals? State or private institutions.? How much to in-state players.
****Conference and National records: Who won the team titles and how many starters were American. Singles winners? Doubles winners. How many all conference selections went to Americans? How many All -Americans were American, year by year. Rankings year by year by the ITA (Their homes towns), Seeded players in National tournaments (homes).
4. How? The rub lies herein. Someone has to do the work. Someone is going to have to pay the bills. Who should? The NCAA and the USTA for sure. Private money from those who love tennis and our kids.

1. The first question is, is it legal to reserve a % of scholarships “off the top” for our kids? This will likely have to be litigated. Care enough about your children, to risk court action and expense, tennis?
2. You would eliminate some great international people and players. Them or us?
3. The quality college of tennis players would go down for a period of time. However my belief is the quality of American college players, juniors, and pros would eventually improve. And I am almost positive attendance at college matches would grow rapidly.


The NAIA had a 1 foreign player limit in 1970. Once the door was opened wide it spread to all levels, men and women. And with other sports joining in, men and women.
Between 1970 and 2016 there have two stark developments. Scholarships for Americans have plummeted and American player quality has done the same. My chart on the issue would look somewhat like this. Facts would confirm nearly on the button (MY GUESS).

*****CHART (reflects two variables for the years from 1970 to 2016: (1) Scholarships to Americans at top tennis schools and (2) the quality of America’s top pros.

The tennis “boom” began in 1968 (“Open” tennis”). There were several nations that produced many great players in the next 30 years. The Australians, the Swedes, Spain, and certainly America. I have two blog articles posted on, , that roughly lists Americans who were in some way influenced by American college tennis (blog 114), and year by year listings of the top ten pros (blog 113 ).

The other dramatic chart would be to compare top ten ranked American pros annually from 1970 until now. Name the top ten women today?
In the 70’s and 80’s the men’s number 6, 7,8 etc. featured names like Connors, McEnroe, Ashe, Tanner, Ralston, Riessen. Our top eight would have a shot at every major. For the last 5 years no American man has made it to round 3 in any slam. ***(Sam Querry just made Round 4 at Wimbledon).

Where are these guys? Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Jay Berger, Harold Solomon, David Wheaton, Patrick McEnroe, Todd Martin, John Sadri, Bob Mckinley, Brad Gilbert, Michael Pernfors, Peter Fleming, Clark Graebner, Brian Gottfreid, Dick Stockton, Charles Pasarell, Jack Kramer, Chuck McKinley, Bob Lutz, Rafael Osuna, Tony Trabert, Barry McKay, Frank Froehling, Vic Seixias . Cliff Richey, Brian Teacher, Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein, Paul Annacone, Elliot Telscher, Tim Wilkison, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Malavai Washington, Vince Spadea, plus many others.
***These people have had close ties to American college tennis. Some went on to coach in America and at American colleges. Many of these were internationals who came to American college tennis and honed their skills to the professional level. Most would not have done so without scholarships and the collegiate experience. Our Davis Cup team just lost to Croatia! There were fifty men who played on this year’s international Davis Cup zonal teams who were, or currently are, on American Collegiate rosters. No doubt with grants we subsidized. More clearly: We are paying them and training them to beat us. Reminds me of POGO (…we have seen the enemy and it is us!)

***My career began before Title IX and women’s intercollegiate tennis. As late as 1970 there were some women on men’s teams. The women followed suit as far as recruiting internationals. My knowledge of their players is limited, thus the article above comes from the men’s teams.

Conclusion: Is there a “Big Gorilla” who shares these concerns?
1. THE USTA? They have the money to go to court. Their mission is heavily oriented to our young people. It is the “United States” Tennis Association.
2. THE NCAA? They have money too, but their real efforts are toward big money sports. Would they risk a lawsuit? Are they “actors of the state?” The “National” Collegiate Athletic Association?
3. THE ITA? Would most of their members vote for American inclusion? They did one time!
4. MONEY? What if major private money wanted more Americans, Ameican quality players? Example? Oracle is now sponsoring college tennis. What if the CEO (Larry Ellison) felt strongly his funding should include significantly more American support?
5. TAXPAYERS? Nationally, state, local? Just another form of foreign aid, not trade?
6. INSTITUTIONS? Why is my donor money paying for them and not my kids. Isn’t this an unnecessary add-on to runaway tuition?
7. PARENTS? You wouldn’t offer my kid any help, yet your roster is totally international. And you often lose.
8. SMALLER SCHOOLS? When will Presidents, Athletics Directors, Trustees realize “we are just giving our product away”. The “arms race” in minor sports yields little, costs tons.
9. STUDENTS: My athletic fees are supporting those people? Are they helping with my student loan?
10. TEACHING PROS AND HIGH SCHOOL COACHES: No more kids taking lessons, buying products. No more kids going out for my team. Better kids electing other sports.

I also hope The National Federation of High School Athletics would weigh in with their concerns and data for not only tennis but all sports.


Bryce Holmes was my assistant coach. A fine player and coach, he did cause a problem. He Black, me white, both southern, and we both loved to talk. Bryce is funny and we did laugh a lot. And during practice.

A friend once admonished me, “…Parham, shut up and let us talk some; we’re drunk too.”
I never met Bryce’s friend, Ted, but he was one of Bryce’s favorite topics. What made him interesting was ” he would accept any challenge.” I remember two Ted Tales from Bryce.  A $200 prize was offered to anyone who could survive 2 minutes in the ring (cage) with a the county fair’s “gorilla”. After watching several failed attempts, Ted collected the entry from the gang. The gorilla had a plan.  Above the entrance to the ring, he observed from a platform. As his unwitting opponents entered the ring, Mighty Joe would pounce on him from above and pin him immediately. At this point in the tale Bryce would interject that Ted took pride in his own guile in  these ventures.   So, upon entering the ring our hero gave a mighty fake step in, then backed up as the gorilla landed on the ground in front of 260lb Ted, now the new king of the ring and two hundred bucks richer.
Branching out,  our Lexington, NC  adventurers find themselves international.  At a bullfight in Mexico.   Ante is upped to $500 , as well as the risks.  To win, the entrant must tie a pink ribbon on the bull’s horn.  What’s the plan?

Bryce said to everyone’s amazement Ted simply walked straight at the bull.  Half way there the bull began to paw the ground viciously.  Still Ted stared him down.   Ten yards to the bull.  Ted stoops into a lineman’s stance and began an even more pronounced pawing, all the while staring into the bull’s eyes.

The bull, as well as the crowd, only looked puzzled as Ted tied the ribbon around the bull’s horn.  Ted turned and walked back to get his money, as the bull ambled in the other direction.  Though delayed, there was then a standing ovation.  OLE.

I was begin to wonder about these accounts.  Players who listened in would say out of earshot, “Coach –you don’t really buy that do you?

Then the call.

Primetime and the phone rings.  Bryce:  “Coach, channel 5, a program called SURVIVOR, turn it on”.  Honest Injun—there is Ted on Survivor.  From Thailand.

How in the hell, Bryce?   My buddy said Ted told his wife he had to go to Thailand on business.  Told his bosses he and his wife were on vacation to Thailand.  Hopped a plane, applied to try out for the show and qualified.

That night Ted won.   Go back and check it out!  Not only that he won twice more.  We were collecting quite a Ted following.  The teams spread the word to ELON, then to nearby Greensboro, and growing.  Semi-finals next, we think Ted is the best choice.  However the gamblers asked for inside help.  Bryce called Ten in Thailand.

Ted told Bryce, “…Hommie, don’t let the boys put any money on the semis.  You know ain’t no prime time American TV network, gonna miss a chance to show a black man getting his ass whipped.’

Lots of complaints about TV nowadays.  My wife says can’t believe you watch that mess.

“Wicked Tuna”, alligators and crocs, shark shows, even Duck Dynasty.  Maybe, maybe, Ted will strike again.