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What are the components necessary to build a tennis champion? How old should a player be before turning pro? Does college tennis help or hinder when you get onto the professional tour? When is it time to quit? These questions, particularly the first, are the themes of Berry's follow-up to his acclaimed Tough Draw. The focus of this volume is on three players: Jonathan Stark, a 23-year-old with a monster serve; Ania Bleszynski, a 17-year-old junior player with a taste for science; and Stefan Edberg, a former number one who, at 28, is struggling to stay in the top ten. Topspin follows them from the 1993 US Open through the aftermath of the '94 Open. Stark will move up the rankings ladder as far as 36, only to slip back to 67 by the end of the year. Bleszynski is that rarity, a young female player who is interested in schoolwork; she will eventually accept a full scholarship to Stanford. Only Edberg's story has an inevitable ending; he falls out of the top 15 in the men's rankings, no longer able to beat the very top players in the world or, occasionally, even players of the next caliber. Along the way, Berry meets and chats with numerous tennis legends, as well as coaches, parents, and other tennis journalists, seeking the answers to his key questions.
Berry's unique combination of an ex-player's perspective blended with the literary intelligence of a former Fulbright professor makes him an unusually perceptive observer of the sport, even for the hard-core fan. But his insight into the mind of young players, combined with his considerable interviewing skills and charm, will draw in the more casual tennis fan as well.
|Serve and Volley||1|
|The Orange Bowl||24|
|The Shadow Line||60|
|A Late Night in Philadelphia||78|
|The Paddock Area||109|
|Pride - Ania Bleszynski and Lynne Rolley||222|
|Laver and Rosewall Together||228|
|Afterword: Farther Down the Tennis Highway||295|