Topspin: The Ups and Downs in Big-Time Tennis

Overview

Author of the acclaimed Tough Draw which Arthur Ashe called "one of the best books on professional tennis I've ever read", Eliot Berry returns to the graceful, high-stakes game of world-class tennis to share his insights on what it takes to be a winner. Berry follows today's top players, as well as a select few juniors on the rise, through the major worldwide tournaments on all surfaces - from the clay courts of the Orange Bowl to the grass of Wimbledon to the hardcourts of the U.S. Open and beyond. The author's ...
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Overview

Author of the acclaimed Tough Draw which Arthur Ashe called "one of the best books on professional tennis I've ever read", Eliot Berry returns to the graceful, high-stakes game of world-class tennis to share his insights on what it takes to be a winner. Berry follows today's top players, as well as a select few juniors on the rise, through the major worldwide tournaments on all surfaces - from the clay courts of the Orange Bowl to the grass of Wimbledon to the hardcourts of the U.S. Open and beyond. The author's talent for finding the most exciting battles, often far from the glare of center court, is evident in gripping play-by-play descriptions. Berry also reexamines yesterday's stars - Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, and other greats of the game, including a fascinating portrait of the late Fred Perry that stands as a poignant testament to a vanished era. Eliot Berry, dubbed "a jock with a brain" by Inside Tennis magazine, views the sport within the context of its unique history to show why certain athletes succeed, how to identify tomorrow's winners, and why time at the top is fleeting, even for today's greatest champions. The author's trademark blend of insightful interviews and vivid courtside commentary opens the door to a world most tennis enthusiasts can never enter; his privileged access to the stars and their coaches and familiesearned through the critical success of Tough Draw - yields a rare glimpse of world-class professional tennis as it is really lived and played.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Berry (Tough Draw), a child star of the sport during the 1970s, shows himself a subtle observer of tennis and its participants as he analyzes key games and looks into the personalities of the players. He concentrates on two athletes, Ania Bleszynski, the daughter of Polish immigrant parents, both physicists, and herself a brilliant student as well as a fine performer on the court; and Jonathan Stark, whose world ranking yo-yos from 1007th to 36th then to 73rd as his drive to win waxes and wanes. Berry interviews ex-stars like Fred Perry, 85, who tells what it was like to play Bill Tilden (Perry has since died), and Rod Laver, who talks of the time the Australians ruled the tennis world. Citing the case of Jennifer Capriati, a millionaire at 13 from her earnings and a has-been at 18, he blasts parents who take their children out of school, leaving them uneducated. This perceptive study verifies an observation made by Stark's ex-coach Larry Stefanski: "Tennis hurts." (May)
Library Journal
As demonstrated in his work Tough Draw (LJ 8/92), Berry is less interested in exposing the flaws of the professional tennis circuit (which are well documented by Peter Bodo in The Courts of Babylon, LJ 7/95, and others) than in defining the factors that ensure a player's success on the court. His intent is to look beyond individual skills and strategies to the qualities of balance, passion, and state of mind that ultimately determine the winners and losers. In doing so, he posits a relationship between the exteriors of a person's game and his or her interior. Interviews with Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall on the current crop of stars round out the text. On the whole, this is a worthy successor to the author's earlier work and recommended for most sports collections.-William H. Hoffman, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., Fla.
Kirkus Reviews
A former ranked junior player, Berry (Tough Draw: The Path to Tennis Glory, 1992) again brings his expertise to bear on the pro tennis circuit.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805035438
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 89
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Serve and Volley 1
The Orange Bowl 24
The Shadow Line 60
A Late Night in Philadelphia 78
The Paddock Area 109
Ania Bleszynski 122
Wimbledon 149
Pride - Ania Bleszynski and Lynne Rolley 222
Laver and Rosewall Together 228
Reckonings 245
Afterword: Farther Down the Tennis Highway 295
Index 321
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