From 1973 until 2000 the Governor of North Carolina’s first name was Jim ( HOLSHOUSER, HUNT, MARTIN, HUNT).

One of our football coaches laughingly told me of his eccentric Uncle. Uncle fashioned himself a powerful local politico. He dressed the part (pocket watch, cigar, authentic “harmuph” when speaking (loud, often and detached. ).

Coach said that his Uncle’s opening declaration was “… I was talking with Jim yesterday…”

If lucky,

some unsuspecting local would ask “Jim who”?

Jim Martin the Governor, you dumb son of a bitch! Harumph—the standard reply.

Three “JIMS ” were so helpful to my tennis experiences:




Thanks, Jims


The April 20th NCAA Division 1 Women’s college team tennis rankings impressed me in several ways.

  1. It is already tournament time!
  2. Three North Carolina teams are ranked in the top 5 (North Carolina-1, NC State-3, and Duke-5.)
  3. Newspapers haven’t mentioned anything about this rare fact.

Also ACC league members Virginia (#7,) and Wake Forest (#23 ) aren’t too bad either.


Recently I saw the Will Smith portrayal of Mr. Williams and family.  Below are articles iI have written, the first in 2007:


Another factor in American tennis can’t be overlooked. The role of parents. Connors (mother ), McEnroe (father), Evert (father), Aggassi (father, brother), and the Williams’ sisters, are ample proof that the tremendous role of parents in the development of Championship level American players. 

Mr. Williams certainly gets the award for “out of the box” results. To train one child to be #1 in the world is amazing, but #1 and #2 at the same time is un- precedented. And done without normal routes of American Junior play and USTA super-support says a lot. I have to say I was disappointed by the way the Williams sisters were often treated by many in American tennis. 


FEB. 2022

Being a tennis teacher/coach,  the film’s depiction of how this happened was both interesting and historical.    Much theory about tennis has evolved in the last fifty years.  Mr. Williams taught himself from this explosion.   Pronation of the wrist when serving,  open stance forehands,  maximum number of hits and drilling, throwing the racket in service motion, ball can serve targets, etc.

The names of Braden, Macci. many players, country clubs to ghetto,  spot on.

Many have noted tennis at high level is like fighting with rackets  rather than gloves.  How the trainers brought along young boxers was a common part of understanding that losing (particularly singularly ) is tough.  The choice to skip junior tournaments was maybe the most important and unique choice made.  

There was a more important lesson made in the film and in reality.  A bigger lesson.  Richard Williams showed the route to success in American tennis.  Families are our best teachers and coaches and academies.  No one cares like good parents.

Whatever sport , or whether sports, parental leadership works best.

 The Williams family taught a big lesson.  Richards’ father ran from danger.  When Venus was in her darkest moment he ran to her (‘ I have never been more proud of you”).

He risked his life.  He gave his life.  Give him credit.


Patrick Mouratoglon,  Serena Williams’ tennis coach, said it.  The commentators missed a great chance.  Was the USTA listening closely?  His point about Co Co Gault’s win over Venus Williams was, here is another example of where great American tennis players have come from, then and now.  What better example could you want:  From Richard Williams and Venus and Serena, to 2019 Wimbledon and Co Co and her parents.   The Bryan brothers and their dad,  Isner and his mom, all the  way back to Chris Evert and her father.  Connors and mom.  McEnroe/Father.  No one gives their attention to a child like  parents.   There were five American men entered in the 2019 French Open.  Tiafoe, at #32, was the only seeded American male.  Taylor  Fritz won a first round match.  The rest lost.

For the umpteenth time,  all entities sincerely interested in developing quality American tennis players, should demand a reasonable slice of college tennis scholarships for American students.  Parents need help, a carrot at the end.

Former college tennis players
Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Bob and Mike Bryant, Jim Courier, Brad Gilbert, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner, Jimmy Connors, Dennis Ralston, Dick Stockton, Vitas Gerulaitis, Michael Chang, Malavai Washington, Todd Martin, Bob Lutz, Bill Talbert, Tony Trabert,, Vince Spadea, John Isner, Steve Johnson, MANY MORE.


The blog on “The Circle stinger” received more hits than any tennis advice I have written.  I certainly didn’t design the strategy itself (see Mr. Nadal )!

As stated in the article, it’s real effect has been to change the first choice of getting to the net  from serving and volleying, or attacking the short ball down the line. 

It also provided the tactic to make the “swinging volley” a better first choice. 

The complete play that has evolved so effectively follows:

  1. Identify the ball to come in on.  Nadal’s lefty stinger crosscourt to the “weaker” backhand pass is so far the best approach.
  2. Any weak, short or floating return is now a common place for talented, new pros to attack with a full bore swinging volley. Directed away from the opponent.

***3.  I caution teachers and coaches to remember there are levels of ability throughout the whole process.  Beginners of average ability, most high school players, average club and recreational level players should first perfect the standard volley fundamentals, adding the swinger when level and talent make it an advanced, effective tool.

Even at the highest level of pro doubles,  classic volleys are most often best.


Ron Smarr is a life-time coach and a life-friend. I asked him to “coach” me on this chapter on coaching. Coach Smarr has coached many players and fellow coaches. Me included. Recently he was a major help in providing “THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of TENNIS for every high school coach and player in North Carolina.

Currently we are picking the best of the past instruction, and new and additional worthwhile suggestions since the earlier book. Below are shortened comments Ron offered having read this chapter.

  1. Never serve at your opponent’s strength on big points.
  2. Drop shots and topspin lobs are old shots that modern players are revisiting.
  3. Other than football, basketball and perhaps baseball-other college sports may become “club sports”!
  4. Serves and groundstrokes up the middle can take angle away from your opponent. And you run less.
  5. High school coaches and players and teams often are aided greatly by college coaches and local pros and players.
  6. Coaching is not just about winning.
  7. Many players are returning serve from way back. Enter the drop shot?
  8. The closer you are to the net the more you keep the racket head out in front.
  9. Over- night camps make directors much more exposed to liability.
  10. One Jerk will and can make things bad for the whole program.
  11. Movement can make2/3 of the court available to a powerful shot. And avoid weak shots !

******Comment to Coach Smarr: Guess we are now the “old timers”. We should accept improved good changes.

You and I began when the Australians and Californians were the classic models. Borg and other Europeans’ and South Americans added extreme western grips and open footwork. As good or better. Another thing I hear from young pros is the term “swinging volleys”. Maybe they are talking about very high level players. and while these shot are much more powerful, I would suggest that a volley fundamental is placement, or “spot specificity”. And that doubles at any level call for classic styled shortened shots. Watch the pros. Club doubles players, high school kids, and even talented youngsters need fundamental volley technique.


Thanks to Facetime and Zoom grandparents can see more of theirs who have gotten far from the home. My Grandson in Boulder is 14 and played tennis tournaments this year. I offer my suggestions from time to time, having modern access to technology. A sample is below:


As mentioned earlier, the recent videos your Dad sent are great help for me.  And your improving and growing are impressive.   I have found many players learn quicker if they focus on one shot at a time.  Or a physical or mental shortcoming.

Some one said “… a tennis player is as strong or as weak as their weakest link, and the weakest link in tennis is the second serve.”  Ugh, double faults.  Your second serve is sound and getting better.  My guess is the second shot most vulnerable is the high forehand volley.  It looks so easy, then oops, in the net, etc.  There was a lot of times I heard some losing player say,  “… yea, I had that break point right here (mimics the hfv (high forehand volley) and blew it.

You like to play at the net and the last videos concentrate on volleys.  Your backhand volley is excellent.   You seem to PUSH the forehand.  And sometimes let the ball get in a less than PERFECT volley spot.  It should be “V” shaped.  Tighten your hand at hit moment.  The harder they hit it the easier you swing.   A lot of times you just “touch and tighten!”

Remember most volleys are hit with a continental  or even a backhand grip.   There are seven volley spots (see green book on volleys).  I do think the HFV is the only volley grip you change.  And  a clue or two ideas may be:

  1. Try more of a forehand grip on HFV.  This  is less awkward I believe. 
  2. Perfect volley spot is sometimes sloppy on the HFV because it looks so easy (like overheads).  Perfect movement and concentration to “…keep it in the perfect hit-spot.”
  3. Many fine players select to overplay, or chose the dependable backhand volley on marginal volleys.
  4. I agree swinging volleys are now in vogue and effective.  First develop a firm dependable “touch”, not power bomb.
  5. Lots of pros now use the “stinger strategy” that forces a weak return —-which is vulnerable to a swinging put-a-way.   Recall the stinger?  REMEMBER, TOO ,  VOLLEYING DOWN IS BETTER.  LOW ONES GO STRAIGHT AND DEEP AND THEY GET TO HIT THEM.  DOWN ONES WIN.  QUICK LEGWORK TO PERFECT VOLLEY SPOT.

Happy New Year.  Love, Pop


Tennis in 2020 has been “different”. The French Open was no exception, cold weather and no fans. Had to adapt to that tough wind.

Strategy—game plan. How you plan to win.

Tactics–the tools you use to carry out your strategy.

Jack Kramer said the fundamental strategy is to find what your opponent can’t handle. Drop shots have emerged as an evolving tennis tool. It follows that defending against drop shot has been taken to a new level. The Joker has mastered this. His extreme crosscourt off a dropshot may be the most improved shot of this year.

Dominic Theim gets the stamina award for recent play; (US Open) starts his marathon. Three backhand down the line passing shots were a tactic!

But he exhibited another passing tactic that impressed me more. When pressured by net play Theim has a low floating pass shot, not intended to win the point. but to make his opponent to volley up. Then comes the point winning pass. Not chip and charge, but chip and rip.

College players were allowed coaching between games about mid-career for me. Once I overhead an opposing player say about his coach, “…yeah, he talked but never gave me any help!”

I began to look harder for ways to help. The best person to know what needs to be done is the player on the court. Theim and Diego Schwartzman practice and play doubles. As defensive as clay is as a surface, Schwartzman’s tools at the net won the match for him. He knew of the chip and rip passing tactic of his friend, now opponent. With this knowledge and speed he closed in and took that away. Knowing also of the down the line bomb he used his speed cover that one too. Faultless volleying caused Theim to try a weak cross court to no avail. While these tools were few, they were flawlessly executed and timely. And kept the match go that long distance. In fairness to Dominic the final strategy may have been to use his fatigue to be a successful game plan. No one should have lost that one.

Did you get the real message? If you can outrun and outlast them, you have the best tools to win. Get in shape.

PS—Watch this shot emerge as the next emerging shot: THE TOPSPIN LOB.

CUTTING COLLEGE SPORTS from Sports Illustrated (June 11,2020)


It’s not getting any better. So far this spring, tennis has been the most popular choice to cut. Of the 30 teams eliminated, eight are either men’s or women’s tennis. Coincidentally or not, tennis is also responsible for having the largest foreign participation of any sport. About 60% of tennis rosters are not native to the U.S. “There’s somewhere around 7,000 scholarships available (inclusive of D-I, D-II, NAIA, and JUCO), and there are just not enough American juniors to fill the scholarships,” says Tim Russell, the CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. “There have been some schools where the coach only recruits internationally, and there have been some ADs saying, ‘Can’t have a program of all international students.’” There are other reasons tennis is targeted, Russell says. The most common are costs associated with an indoor and outdoor facility.