Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A First Review

A NEW YEAR'S SERVE is reviewed here by Tom Allsopp, an active teaching pro in Philadelphia.  His website,, where the review first appeared with wonderful formatting, is one of the best in the tennis world (in my biased view).

Tom's review, like the book reviewed, raises this question for me.  Do I want to be known as a tennis writer or a public affairs writer or a novelist?  Answer:  All three!
A New Year’s Serve – By John Escher
A NEW YEAR’S SERVE: PERSONALIZED TENNIS STROKE DESIGN by John Escher is a truly unique book. John is a 71 year old player who has an attitude to tennis and learning that very few people of any age seem to have.

As a coach I struggle to convince people to make changes to their game. Very few people are prepared to experiment and make changes for fear of failure, even if the supposed failure would only be for a month or a few matches. Many adults believe they are just too old to make changes. John shows that you are never too old to make adjustments and learn more about the game.

Whilst trying to master every shot John attempts to imitate and learn from the top professionals while applying it to his own game. At the same time he shares his findings with friends and like-minded tennis enthusiasts on blogs and chat forums and includes them in the book to make it a unique read.

John not only tries to find the players with the best technique for him to emulate but he describes the shots in incredible detail. It took me a long time to read the book because I had to pick up a racket and swing it to better help me understand what John was saying. This all adds to the reading experience.

However, more than swinging the racket around my living room while trying to figure out the nuances of Federer’s forehand, I like the example that John sets for other players, especially juniors. John points out that juniors “don’t go snarfing around every tennis court like the young Pancho Gonzalez looking for elements or strokes to emulate.” He also thinks that many young players don’t have an interest in being their own coach because a coach can only take you so far, the player must fill in the rest of the blanks. I totally agree!

John tells an interesting and all too familiar story in his book;

“The physician sister of a former number one in U.S. junior doubles told me at an oysterfest that her sister no longer plays tennis. Why? Because she can’t stand recreational tennis. To her, tennis is about a certain level of competition. Without that, there isn’t a thrill.”

John goes on to say, “If you won’t be a searcher in tennis and continue your search all through your life, you’ll reach your level of mediocrity breathtakingly soon. You won’t have enough interest in the game to continue with it every day.”

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