Sunday, November 12, 2006

Book Review: Tennis Beyond Big Shots by Greg Moran

I discovered Greg Moran's writing a few months ago via his monthly column on TheTennisServer.com. I checked out some of his past columns (here's one of my favorites), and was impressed with both his passion for the game and his writing prowess, a combination you don't often encounter in a teaching pro. (I believe any successful teaching pro with a several decades in the business could probably write a useful book based on their experiences, but it's rare when someone actually does it.) I was eager to read his book, Tennis Beyond Big Shots, and it didn't disappoint.

I think the "Big Shots" Moran refers to has a dual meaning. The primary one is big shots such as Andy Roddick's serve or Roger Federer's forehand. Moran makes the case throughout the book that consistency is more important than power, that one running forehand down-the-line winner doesn't make up for the six unforced errors on either side of it. Percentage tennis is what he preaches, and he makes a very convincing case for it. Roddick and Federer may be and have "Big Shots," but Moran isn't much interested in them. He's interested in the game as it is played for recreational players, not professionals.

The true heart of the book is, well, it's heart. The first half--Small Changes To Win Big, Retro Shots That Will Raise Your Game--is focused on playing better, and the advice is directed at the club-level player. The second half--Good Thinking Tops Great Strokes and Lighten Up, Be Happy--is about the mental, emotional, even spiritual, component of playing tennis. Moran uses anecdotes to maximum effect here, and his account of serving as a fourth for a Super Seniors doubles match and his story about what became of his tennis-playing high school buddies are two of the best.

There is plenty of solid advice on such topics as starting your child in tennis, what to look for in a pro, how to move to another pro without embarrassment, how to deal with cheaters, and how to avoid tennis snobs.

But most of all, Moran's love of the game makes you want to pick up your racquet and play. There isn't a much higher recommendation than that.


Anonymous said...

Random here, but is there any news on what Jesse Levine will be doing? Is he playing tournaments, challengers, is he injured, or going to college?

roGER said...

I thought it was a really good book, although Greg has changed the details of some of the stories - often to make them a bit more upbeat...

His basic message to us recreational and club level players makes a lot of sense; concentrate on consistency and placement first - only then attempt to add power.