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The Tennis Book: A Young Player's Guide to Tennis    by Tom Kern & Gillian Kern order for
Tennis Book
by Tom Kern
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I remember school tennis lessons as a child in Ireland, though I was never very good. Maybe I needed The Tennis Book. It begins with a history of the sport, which started as 'le jeu de paume' in 13th century France, and spread to England three centuries later. The book is full of fascinating tennis tidbits, including the fact that (dried) cow dung 'is an official surface on some courts in India.' It's also interspersed with color photos of some of today's great players. At the back is a tennis glossary and a list of resources.

Tools of the sport are introduced - rackets (which have changed big time in both look and technology since I started playing), balls, shoes and clothing with big pockets. The court is explained in detail, including the fact that balls touching lines are always in. A set of warm-up exercises is recommended before starting. Next come drills to get comfortable with your racket, to start hitting against a wall (both forehand and backhand), to play 'Mini-tennis', and rally with a partner. Different styles of forehand and backhand grips are shown, and explanations and photos make clear how to hit the ball, how to spin it, how to serve (something I never mastered), and how to volley.

There's a section on specialty shots - lob, overhead smash (love that one!), and drop shot. Another explains strategy and tactics - this is covered for both Singles and Doubles games. And of course, we need to know about Rules and Etiquette, from basic scoring and tiebreaking, to changing ends, shaking hands after a match, and leaving the court tidy. Tournament competition is covered (with a sample draw sheet) and advice provided on Nutrition. The latter, relevant to any serious workout (not only to tennis), explains the length of time needed to digest meals and snacks, and also discusses the need to drink water and avoid dehydration.

The Tennis Book gives a comprehensive introduction to the sport, of interest to young players, their parents and their coaches. It provides material (drills explained clearly, with accompanying photos) for a great deal of practice on your own or with friends. Wish I'd had it when I first learned the game!

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