Category Archives: Steven’s posts

Book Review: “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All Time”


Beginning with Harold Solomon’s foreword, the “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All Time” reminded me that the pro tennis  circuit has predominantly been, in Harold’s elegant words, “color blind and religiously accepting”.  As a long, blonde-haired teenage player from Harold’s era, I often experienced impressions of being different and I remember that same feeling of acceptance when I first walked onto a tennis court. It was “all about that game” – no matter who was on the other side of the net.

I picked up this publication because I wanted to read about some of the Jewish players who were at the top of the game during my early days as an aspiring player. Many of those players are covered in this book and I was pleasantly surprised as I thumbed through the pages – influenced by all of them, the gamestyles and personalities of Tom Okker, Brian Gottfried, Brian Teacher, and Harold Solomon came to mind when I first saw the title.

As a lover of history, I was impressed by the author’s use of genealogy in the weaving of the players’ accounts – in Umberto De Morpurgo’s chronicle, dating all the way back to 1390. I was particularly drawn in by Daniel Prenn’s story . Daniel was the #1 ranked player in 1932 but was denied, beginning in 1933, the right to play Davis Cup for Germany because he was of Jewish origin. He was needed but not wanted. Ironically in 1938,  the Nazis, not knowing Ladislav Hecht was Jewish, tried to recruit the Czech Davis Cupper to play for Germany. “Not surprisingly, he passed on their offer,” Harwitt writes.

I could easily share a little something from all the wonderful stories in this book, but that’s the author’s job.  As promised in her introduction, Sandra Harwitt truely does highlight and blend the best of very different Jewish players in an informative and entertaing way. Transported in time, I so enjoyed the read.

Steven R. White

Author, Certified Tennis Instructor (Professional Tennis Registry)


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PTR, USTA, USPTA Raise The Level Of Coaching

Hilton Head Island, SC – – Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) announced that beginning today, it will adopt parameters set by USTA’s Coach Youth Tennis, which will be required as a prerequisite to certification.

The USTA announced the launch of an educational curriculum program, Coach Youth Tennis to improve the quality and standards of teaching tennis to kids and enhance the long term development of children in the sport.  The program consists of a series of online courses and a hands-on workshop introducing participants to the fundamentals required for success in working with children ages 10 and under.

“Elevating the quality and standards of teaching tennis to our youth will have lasting impact on our sport for years to come,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe. “Coach Youth Tennis provides tennis teachers of all levels with the tools necessary to teach the sport to children.”

The USTA worked in collaboration with the PTR, USPTA and the USOC, in developing the curriculum, which serves as a pathway to Tennis Professional Certification through the PTR and USPTA certification programs.  Beginning in 2014, all individuals who want to become a certified teaching professional will need to complete the Coach Youth Tennis curriculum.

All involved associations will utilize their partnership to effectively raise the level of coaching in the U.S., and enhance the teaching process to create an early positive experience for kids.

“This partnership is part of the USTA’s continuing effort to bring more children into the sport,” said Kurt Kamperman, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis.  “These educational resources will impact tennis teachers and coaches throughout the country, with information on how to best deliver the sport to kids, as well as on maximizing their business.”

The educational curriculum establishes a set of standards for tennis teachers and coaches, ensuring that children will be taught the proper essentials of the game.  The combined resources and industry support serves as a tremendous opportunity for tennis in the USA.

The program consists of two stages of course work, which will include six interactive and engaging online courses and knowledge checks.  The curriculum covers several important topics, including appropriate methods on how to communicate, understanding characteristics of children, tennis activities suited for young children, effective ways to transition children through ability progressions, and group management.  In addition, the program includes a face-to-face workshop that will provide proper fundamentals and skill development progressions for coaches of young players.

“In providing 10 and under education for the last three years, PTR has been supportive of 10 and Under Tennis from its very beginning,” said Dan Santorum, CEO of PTR.  “We are excited about the collaborative effort the USTA organized to expand 10 and under education for tennis teachers, and PTR looks forward to supporting the USTA’s efforts to enhance 10 and Under education that can lead to PTR certification.”

“Our stated mission as an association is to elevate the standards of tennis teaching professionals and coaches,” said USPTA CEO John Embree.  “It is not too much to ask professionals who wish to become certified to take seven hours of education prior to certification that addresses our most important initiative, which is to grow our base of players starting with kids 6 to 10 years old.”

For more information on Coach Youth Tennis, please visit

PTR is the largest global organization of tennis teaching professionals with more than14,800 members in 121 countries.  It has the greatest percentage of multicultural and women members of any such organization.  PTR is dedicated to educating, certifying and servicing tennis teachers and coaches around the world in order to grow the game.

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Lleyton “Rusty” Hewitt Uncovered


Lleyton Glynn Hewitt (born 24 February 1981) is an Australian professional tennis player and former World No. 1. Hewitt is the youngest male ever to be ranked number one in the world, at the age of 20. His most notable career achievements include winning the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon men’s singles titles, the 2000 US Open men’s doubles title, and back-to-back Tennis Masters Cup (now called the ATP World Tour Finals) titles in 2001 and 2002.

Hewitt is a defensive counterpuncher. He typically likes to play near the baseline during a rally and will usually approach the net only to catch a short reply or drop shot from his opponent. Hewitt’s lack of penetration in his groundstokes, most notably in his forehand, a typically dominant shot in most male players, forces him to rely on placement rather than simply “dominating” the point. At the 2004 Cincinnati Masters Final, commentator MaliVai Washington said that Hewitt was even more difficult to “ace” than Agassi because he gets more returns in play. Hewitt’s tactics typically involve putting difficult service returns in play, consistently chasing down attempted winning shots from his opponent while keeping the ball deep until he feels he can hit a winner.

Although he is known primarily as a baseliner, Hewitt is a skilled volleyer and is known for having one of the best overhead smashes in the game. His signature shot, however, is the offensive topspin lob, a shot that he executes efficiently off both wings when his opponent approaches the net. US Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, Jim Courier and Tim Henman have all described Hewitt’s lob as being the best in the world (although Henman has since declared Andy Murray to have succeeded him). In Andre Agassi’s book “Open”, Hewitt is described as one of the best shot selectors in the history of Men’s Tennis.

Today, Hewitt still brings a lot to the game whenever he walks onto a court. After fourteen years on the ATP Tour, he still plays the game with the same grit and heart he has always played with. Now entering his fifteenth season on tour, he continues to wear his heart on his sleeve while hoisting the flag for Australia – especially when he plays in his own backyard.

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Isner and Roddick Face Off For Ebix Charity Challenge

Two-time Winston-Salem Open champion John Isner will return to his hometown of Greensboro on Dec. 7 to host the Ebix Charity Challenge, which benefits the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 Isner will be joined by former World No. 1 Andy Roddick as well as Justin Gimelstob for an entertaining exhitbition at UNCG’s Fleming Gymnasium. The pros will also hold a youth clinic in conjunction with the event.
Click here to get your tickets.

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The Rafa Serve: An Illustrated Commentary


Rafa is a fierce competitor. Just before he serves, he often gives his opponent a look reminiscent of a snarl. But contrary to what some of us might be thinking, that doesn’t mean he’s about to try to serve that opponent off the court. More often than not, he’s just looking for an effective serve that’s going to set up an awesome reply to an average return. That’s something I’m a big fan of – percentage tennis.

I’m also a fan of Rafa’s serving technique. He doesn’t toss the ball up any higher than it needs to be to make contact. And it’s very compact…very little can go wrong with it. The name of the game is effective consistency.

But that consistency didn’t come easy or cheap. Over the years, Nadal has tinkered with various grips and stances to improve his serve. But inevitably (because it works), he keeps relying on what basically is a clay court serve. The difference is he has power whenever he chooses to use it. And to compound the effectiveness, he also mixes up his serves beautifully, changing the speeds and placement with pinpoint accuracy – especially on the big points. Another thing that makes Rafa so hard to break is that when he finds a winning pattern he doesn’t stray away from it.

This can work for you too. To improve your chances of winning, be like Nadal and try using more spin on your serve.  Don’t worry if you get broken a few times at first. The accuracy and placement we all desire will come with practice.

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Venus, Bouchard, and Caro Advance at Pan Pacific Open


TOKYO — Venus Williams rallied from a set down on Wednesday to defeat Simona Halep of Romania 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and reach the quarterfinals of the Pan Pacific Open.

Williams, making her first appearance in the Tokyo tournament since 2009, broke serve to go up 5-3 in the second set at Ariake Colosseum and then won with a crosscourt forehand that Halep hit into the net.

“It was a very tough match,” Williams said. “She played very well. I don’t know how I was able to win the match. I just wanted to stay in Japan longer.”

Williams, who ousted top-seeded Victoria Azarenka on Tuesday, will face Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the quarterfinals.

Bouchard upset sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-2.

Making her debut in the Tokyo tournament, Bouchard broke Jankovic to go up 5-2 in the second set and then held serve to win.

Jankovic had a 5-4 lead in the first set but Bouchard won the last three games after a talk with her coach.

“I felt like I wasn’t playing my best in the first set,” Bouchard said. “But I stayed with her and started to get a lot more aggressive near the end of the first set and that was the turning point.”

Bouchard, who is 46th in the world rankings, said winning last year’s junior Wimbledon title has given her confidence to compete at a higher level.

“That gave me a lot of confidence to play in the pros,” Bouchard said. “Playing week in, week out against the top players has made me a better player.”

In another third-round match, fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, defeated Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 6-1, 6-1.


Illustrations by Steven White

Text via Associated Press

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Tennis Power Ranking 2013: Wimbledon and Murray’s Ascent

The Changing of the Guard

Tennis Abides: Dan Martin on Tennis and Life

Power Ranking 2013 #8

Wimbledon Shakes up the Power Rankings 

#1 vs. #2 and Murray vs. History/Expectations

1.  Andy Murray – Murray broke a 77 year slump for men from the UK at All England.  Over the past 52 weeks, Murray has won 2 slams, produced 1 slam runner-up finish and won a gold medal.  His back-to-back titles at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon have him looking toward #1 in the ATP computers  Change since last ranking +3

2.  Novak Djokovic – Tennis is cruel.  Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray each won 7 matches total between Roland Garros and Wimbledon.  Nole won 11 matches and has zero trophies.  They each have 1 trophy.

3.  Rafael Nadal – 7 titles in 10 events is enough to keep Rafa from falling too far from a first round upset.  Change since last ranking -1

4.  David Ferrer – It is hard…

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