May 18, 2009

Tennis and the Meaning of Life

Are all of your tennis books about perfecting your shots or applying the winning strategy? Do you occasionally want to read about tennis without intensely analyzing the faults of your own game? Isn't there a tennis book out there that is just fun?

Yes! Tennis and the Meaning of Life, edited by Jay Jennings, isn't going to change your tennis game or reveal the meaning of life. But it collects some great literature all focused on our favorite game. There are excerpts of works from many well-known authors, including J. P. Donleavy, W. Somerset Maugham, A. A. Milne, Vladimir Nabakov.

And it turns out that there are lots and lots of poems reflecting on tennis, many collected here. A favorite excerpt from "Tennis" by Robert Pinsky:
IV. Strategy

Hit to the weakness. All things being equal
Hit crosscourt rather than down the line, because
If you hit crosscourt back to him, then he

Can only hit back either towards you (crosscourt)
Or parallel to you (down the line), but never
Away from you, the way that you can hit

Away from him if he hits down the line.
Besides, the net is lowest in the middle,
The court itself is longest corner-to-corner,

So that a crosscourt stroke is the most secure,
And that should be your plan, the plan you need
For winning--though only when hitting from the baseline:

From closer up, hit straight ahead, to follow
The ball to net; and from the net hit shrewdly,
To get him into trouble so he will hit

An error, or a cripple you can kill.
If he gets you in trouble, hit a lob,
and make it towering to make it hard

For him to smash from overhead and easy
For you to have the time to range the backcourt,
Bouncing in rhythm like a dog or seal

Ready to catch an object in mid-air
and rocking its head--as with your plan in mind
You arrange yourself to lob it back, and win.
Sounds like a pretty good singles strategy.Or how about this one:
"Clobber the Lobber" by Felicia Lamport

O spare us from the need to play
with tennis slobs
who have the urge to lengthen points
with lofty lobs!
Short, to the point and a sentiment with which I totally agree.

Tennis and the Meaning of Life won't be a revelation, but it is an enjoyable read and would make a great gift to your favorite captain.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

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