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 town of Wilson, North Carolina buried a time yesterday.  The time’s name was Lee Gliarmis and he ran the hot dog stand.

The Greek service was impressive.  The eulogy nailed it.  The party at  the Elks Club –spot on.  His obit tells the story, his picture glowed.  Still everyone wanted to tell “their story”.  Me too.  Just one.

In the 80’s, now married with kids, ordinary evenings included getting the boys in the bed, and by 8:15 pm,  without even telling my wife where I was headed, I was off to the floor show at the hot dog stand.

The floor show was Lee’s sons, Lee John and Socrates (Soc).    Like all family and half the town, the boys not only worked,  but grew up behind the counter.  Teenagers now,  they spent their lives up to this point, observing the local characters.  And both had  the gift  of mime.

By 8:20 I was settled in with a coffee and an ice cream sandwich.  Closing time (8:30 till 9:00) was cleanup and recap of the day.    Those of the few there, the ones  finishing their fries and paying the bill, and us regulars, began to hear voices from behind the counter .    Lee John had more variety, but sooner or later Soc would do Judge John Webb ordering a hot dog and a chocolate milk.  Sid, Bud, Bobby Brooks, coaches, politicians – local and national, Russell Rawlings was one of the cast, the old man (Lee senior) ,with a ring finger missing (“things got tough during the depression, and I sold it for a hot dog”).   Mayor Ralph El Ramey never failed to issue a complaint, via the show’s stars.  If you were there, they nailed you.  I responded in the voice of Dr. Jack Sanford, the college’s baseball coach (“holy hemlock, son–have an idea!”)

Like all youngsters, Lee John and Soc were ready to get off work.  But encores and personal requests demanded staying till 9:30 or 10:00.   Local cops wandered in after lights were lowered.  Senior Lee would progressively let his guard down and just grin at the scene.  Eventually we put the town to bed.

In high school I worked the counter in a small town drug store.  Every where I have lived I looked for that community feeling.   Only at the hot stand did I find it.

I’ve never felt so at home.

POSSUM( 351)


Found this old e-mail to my friend , Watson  “Possum” Hale.   Watson is one of eastern North Carolina’s great story tellers:
Dr. Dick Pittman JR.’s wife’s obit is in todays paper. Perhaps the most revered property in the history of Wilson for a college student was the downstairs apartment at Dr. Pittman Sr.’s home on Raleigh Road. Some how you and Smithwick got the apartment for one of your record setting summer school re-admission requirements.
Visiting my teammates John Eskew and Jack Boyd, fellow ACC summer school sweethearts, they led me to the first MAN CAVE, aka the Pittman apartment.
We could hardly find a place to park.  The “Firedome” was in slot one, with two tickets on the windshield.  Upon entering the cave and the party I thought,  “…the fire department doesn’t know about this. Nor the college or the Pittmans. Later on the bar scene from STAR WARS reminded me of that evening.
On a subsequent occasion I asked you guys if the Pittmans had any idea what was going  on down there?  “Hell they joined in.  Dr. Pittman was worse than any of us!”
Tales about Wilson  and the Pittman crowd flowed, followed by fact that you had to watch them,  rather than the other way around.
One scene had you guys outside the door when Lula Norris  (Senior’s wife) was too drunk to get through the door.  Dr. Pittman:  “God dammit, Lula Norris, get you ass inside and up to the bedroom!”
Later I lived in Wilson 25 years.  Got to know Dick Jr. pretty well.  Also a character of note.  Jimmy Pittman just watched and laughed them.
I hope this is about right.  I can’t do justice to you, Wilson, Kinston, story tellers  Later Earl I joined the Elk’s Club.  The Pittman legacy was widespread.  Everyone had  Doctor Pittman story.
Glad I was a witness.   a friend to you,  POSS.
ps.  Russell Rawlings added that later a younger Bert Wiggins sort of ended things by setting off a cherry bomb in  their kitchen.

POX (349)

A statement by author Hal Crowther seems too accurate.  His contention being that if one  read CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY  they would not remain a racist.  Sadly he adds the corollary: “But most people who would save their souls with such a book will never read one.  Racism is a strict religion, and ignorance is its first commandment.”


My advice to young coaches is to recruit good kids who are good players who can function academically and be happy in your school.
Perhaps the two biggest errors I see the “young ones” (coaches) make are (1) They insist on recruiting some borderline jerk who is talented. Eventually that star throws the team and the coach “under the bus.” Don’t bet on that guy, Coach! Get you some good people. You’ll win your share and have a fair chance of staying sane in the crazy world of athletics. 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.”
Above —Excerpt From: Tom Parham. “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” Apple Books.
Twenty years ago I received one of a few “hate letters”.  I was published in a major tennis magazine suggesting a shortened format for college tennis.  The response was a very strong suggestion thatI had no idea what I was talking about.  In fairness the staff writer thought I was talking about professional tennis, whose crowds were  setting records.
In the next twenty years college tennis made major changes to shorten the matches, individual and team.  Doubles  first,  pro-sets for doubles points, then standard sets only.  Tiebreakers instead of third sets in singles, and others.  The Australian open, a pro event, shortened its format this year.  Touche!
Things change.  I never had assistant.  taught classes, sold tickets, ran intramurals.  Over forty years I taught over twenty different college courses.  Two teams I coached had only six players.  No subs.  One year  I played the same lineup, singles and doubles, for all twenty three matches.   Now the majors programs have any number helping do the growing number of duties.  And, while the NCAA places a limit on squad numbers, teams carry large rosters. And they need them and the accompanying  trainers and managers because of injury.
In short, all sports are changing due to many factors.  Certainly football is in crisis due to injury all over, but mostly head injury.  Duke basketball got the snake bite this season.  Zion Williamson and “Shoegate” followed by last night’s UNC game and the eerily similar early game injury to  Marques Bolden.
Each sport and level of play might be advised to reconsider how to keep injuries down :  1. For the sake of players and 2. To combat the attrition of team members that cause coaches having to play with “…them who is left standing.”
And there is the third reason of winning.   Players win games, but coaches and administrators make the rules.  Coaches can do a lot by designing programs that yield the best chance of having a full roster when crunch time comes at the end of the season.


I remember when the .99 cent sandals called flip-flops came out.  In my old age the term is used widely to disparage politicians of all denominations.

Perhaps  George H. W. bush brought it to a boil with the infamous “Read my lips, no new taxes!”

This guy now will unabashedly praise his picks for office in a glorious press briefing and then damn them flamboyantly, while throwing  them under the bus.

Sessions, Tilllerson, McCabe,Bannon, Cohen, the Mooch, Priebus, Comey, Flynn, and a hundred more.  All sugar to shinola in a heartbeat.

TOASTS (346)

Picked up TOASTS FOR EVERY OCCASION at the local library. As usual my “smart-ass” gene kicked in.  Here’s a few:

  • “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu toast.”  Mark Twain
  • May you two grow old on one pillow.
  • May you live a hundred years with one extra year to repent.
  • Here’s to a friend who knows you well and likes you just the same.
  • When I read about the evils of drinking,  I gave up reading.
  • What would you like to drink too?  To about three in the morning.
  • In heaven there is no beer so we better drink it here.
  • Here’s to the good time I must have had.
  • “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker”  Ogden Nash.
  • To man.  Give him an inch and he thinks he is a ruler.
  • Here’s to our  coach –a man who will lay down our lives for his school.
  • Here’s to the honest politician.  Who when bought stays bought.
  • To the big-bellied bottle.