Now Available: The Little Green Book of Tennis

Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book of Golf” is one of the best recent examples of coaching a sport. I have patterned my new book on tennis instruction using methods similar to Coach Penick. Drawing from fifty years of teaching and coaching, I share insights from my mentors who helped me craft repeatable techniques for winning. I also share our personal experiences and observations that have proven to be solid advice. Hopefully, you’ll find this book to be succinct and filled with gems for all levels of players and coaches.

You can order the Little Green Book of Tennis on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) or buy one directly from me by sending a check for $25 to: Tom Parham, 202 Blue Crab Court, Emerald Isle NC, 28594.

To download for your iPad or iPhone, use iBooks:
1) Open iBooks on your iPad or iPhone
2) In the Search box type “Little Green Book of Tennis”
3) Download it automatically to your iPad or iPhone

A few early reviews: 

“If you are looking for a tennis book that is both entertaining and thought provoking this is the book for you. Tom Parham’s insights and musings are both informative and entertaining. As a former college coach, I found it a great read! This Hall of Famer has the ability to think outside the box and you might just find yourself doing the same thing. Coaches will appreciate his originality and benefit from his years of experience.” (Coach Bob Bayliss, Notre Dame Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame)

“Coach Parham is a masterful teacher, southern humorist, and sports philosopher who explains tennis strategies and techniques in a way that anyone can “get it”. The wisdom gained in a brilliant career has been boiled down to  bite-sized pearls of wisdom in “The Little Green Book of Tennis” – a must-read for coaches, instructors, players, and parents.” (Ron Smarr, Rice University Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame, Winningest Coach in Men’s College Tennis upon retirement)

I played for Coach Parham during the late sixties at Atlantic Christian College. After graduation and entering a career in teaching and coaching, I was a member of the tennis camp staff at Atlantic Christian and Elon University. Much was learned during these twenty-five plus years from my mentor Tom Parham.  He had spent years talking with some of the top teaches and coaches including Jim Leighton at Wake Forest, Dennis Van Der Meer, Chet and Bill Murphy, Welby Van Horn, Wayne Sabin, Jim Verdieck, and others. What he did with all of this knowledge was to present it in such a manner that both young and old could understand it.  This is exactly what he has done with “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” He wrote it all down. The best book I have ever read on the game of tennis – from teaching techniques, to drills, to strategy. A must read for players and coaches. (Eddie Gwaltney, Retired Athletic Director, Teacher, Coach)

Coach Parham coached me at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College.  I was in the middle of some 30 Swedish youngsters who ventured into a new country, a new language, and new friends. This came largely at the time of ” the golden days of tennis in Sweden.” Bjorn Borg was our impetus.  Edberg, Wilander, Anders Jarryd, an on and on.  My father was the director of the Swedish Open in Stockholm.  I grew up watching these guys, their games, techniques, deportment. While Coach Parham recruited world-wide and very well, he had the Swedes at the core for 26 years. His Elon team had a Swede this year, 10 years after his retirement. He told us all,  “Do it right academically, personally, and on the court. This is not just about you.  You establish whether I can bring in one behind you.” It is hard to imagine how many good young Swedes there were, and how hard players and coaches attempted to learn and play the game. At one time there were about 300 Swedes playing college tennis in America. Quite frankly, most of us had been trained by more knowledgeable  teachers and pros. But Coach Parham had done HIS homework.  He had paid his dues.  Not only that, he was eager to absorb what we brought. I once heard him say “…the Swedes know things we don’t. And they know how to play as a team member.”  He was all about  the team.  We respected him, knowledge, effort, and leadership. And we held up our end of the bargain.”  (Johan Sturen, ACC ’83, two time first team All-American).

“Tom Parham and I are colleagues and friends.  We are a lot alike, because we could not have lived without coaching.  Both native North Carolinians,  we both played two varsity sports at small colleges in NC—me at Guilford, Tom at Barton. I have seen this man coach and teach. His words flow off the page much in the same manner as the great teachers and coaches I have known. Coach Parham concludes that “this material is, in large part, not mine.  I am only the messenger. I believed in it and benefitted from these masters. I did write it down.”  I don’t think anyone has done it better.” (David Odom, Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball Coach)


North Carolina has produced 3 real moneymakers from professional tennis. One,Tim Wilkison, turned pro at age 17. John Isner and John Sadri attended college 4 years on tennis scholarships before going pro. Sadri and Isner both credit college tennis for their success.
From the 1970’s until today, the number of scholarships awarded to internationals has spriraled upwards, as grants for Americans declined in response.
Within this same time period Americans among the upper tier of professional tennis has declined to the point of alarm. Obviously the two are connected.
Scholarships are the only reasonable financial reward for American athletes. Professional tennis as a possibility has proven a particularly unreasonable bet.
American women’s sports have produced two interesting related examples.
Our women just won their third soccer world cup since Title IX (1970). Of the 23 roster members on the USA squad this year, all 23 attended college. My guess is that all were on sizable soccer grants.
Duke University’s women’s golf team finished 2nd in NCAA this spring. There was not an American on the roster.

ON FLAGS (136)

CHICAGO (April 14, 2015, U.S. Soccer) – With 55 days until the USA’s opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the United States on women’s soccer’s grandest stage Tuesday. The roster will not become official until it is submitted to FIFA on May 25, which is the deadline for all teams to submit their final squads.

Six former University of North Carolina Tar Heels have been named to the team – the most from any university program. The Tar Heel contingent includes Heather O’Reilly, playing in her third World Cup, Lori Chalupny and Tobin Heath, playing in their second World Cups, and Ashlyn Harris, Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen all playing in their first World Cups. Chalupny is the most veteran Tar Heel in the group, having last competed at UNC in 2005. O’Reilly’s last season was 2006 while Engen, Harris and Heath finished in 2009 and Klingenberg in 2010.

Broken down by alma maters, the team includes six players from North Carolina, two each from UCLA, Stanford, Penn State and Virginia and one each from Washington, Santa Clara, Monmouth, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Portland, California, USC and Florida.

Stole the information above! Below, it’s mine.
* Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
* The USA men’s team has never won the World Cup.
* Title 1X became law in 1970. Most widely known beneficiary? Women’s sports.
* No other country enforces such a law.
* July 5, 2015, USA women win third World Cup title, since Title 1X.
* Now is the time to wave a flag. An American one.
We watched the game on TV. With pride. We were joined by guests from Burlington, NC, one of whom asked “… where is their national training center?”
My reply? The largest is thirty miles from you. UNC-AT Chapel Hill. Of the 23 roster members above, all 23 went to college. Anson Dorance, Coach at UNC is legend.
College athletics are the most productive training center for elite athletes and teams anywhere in the world.
Is tennis watching? All the soccer girls probably had sizable scholarships. And without the scholarships how many would been where they are now?
Tennis has cut this foundation off. Our funding is “foreign aid”, shipped all over the world, while we can’t seem to find a fair and legal way to reserve money for our own children.
Americans want top level players. People are searching for help. I repeat: Restore reasonable college scholarships funding for tennis. And the foundation for player development in our country.


Below is the text of the induction comments by Lenox Rawlings, upon his entrance as a member of THE NORTH CAROLINA SPORTS HALL OF FAME.
Lenox is a retired writer. This become obvious. What was equally impressive was the way he presented his insights.
lenox is a “homey” from Wilson,NC. A lot people were proud of Lenox, me certainly included. But none more than BROTHER RUSSELL

MAY 15, 2015

When I was a boy growing up in Wilson, my grandfather would pick me up on Sundays around lunchtime and drive downtown to the Cherry Hotel newsstand across the street from the train station. He would buy a New York newspaper, and then we’d ride over to Fleming Stadium and enjoy the lazy hour or so before a Carolina League baseball game. I’d lay across the back seat in his Buick Special and get lost in the sports pages of the Herald-Tribune or the Times. We’d ask each other questions and exchange opinions – none of which I remember specifically. But I do remember feeling completely at peace.

It’s impossible to say when my love of sports and my love of language met at the crossroads, but one thing led to another, and now that I’m my grandfather’s age, I’m somewhat astonished to find myself standing here tonight accepting this great honor. There are lots of people to thank, beginning with my family, who taught me the difference between right and wrong and encouraged me to be myself and to do whatever I wanted to do in life.

My parents read at the beginning and end of every day and took us to the library where my mother later worked. My father, Lenox Jr., was a masterful storyteller with a dancer’s fine sense of timing, and he could leave a room roaring with laughter. My mother, Gloria, had a dry wit and precise powers of observation and considerable insight into human character. When I was about 11, she handed me her new copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and said, maybe for the only time, “I think you should read this.” She was right, of course. My brothers John and Russell and my sister Ann supported whatever I did and read my columns even if they had little interest in the subject. My wife Janice was a bit more discriminating. She preferred the good ones or the unusual ones, like that one about the alleged intelligence of the elusive largemouth bass. Janice reinforced the importance of intellectual honesty in everyone around her. She carried on cheerfully whenever I took off across the country to cover another story, and she traveled with me far and wide, especially after Jennifer and Barak grew up.

All of them sacrificed something for my freedom of movement.

So did my editors and publishers at the Winston-Salem Journal and other newspapers. They gave me freedom of expression. They defended my freedom of speech whenever they had to, which required more spine than you find in fair-weather guardians of the First Amendment. Fortunately, most of my interview subjects were civilized and cooperative. Many of the people I’ve written about and many of the writers I’ve worked beside are loyal friends. I’ve been lucky that way – in so many ways, really.

From elementary school through college, certain teachers recognized my affinity for descriptive writing and reacted positively. This happens every day in every school around the state, so it galls me when I hear politicians lump all teachers together and criticize them for failing to fix every breakdown in our society.

I’ll admit to an inherent bias. My other grandfather was a high school teacher and football coach before he became the town manager of Wendell. And, for half a century, I have watched teachers and coaches help young folks change their lives for the better. I’ve seen the modest home where my high school teammate Carlester Crumpler lived, raised by his loving grandmother. I’ve seen the neighborhood where Rodney Rogers grew up. I’ve seen the backyard goal where Kay Yow and her sisters and brother learned to shoot, long before women had a tangible future in basketball.

The beauty of sports – the democratic essence of sports, really – is that everyone stands on his or her own merits. Success depends on talent and work and persistence and passion, not privilege. These are basic values that endure long after the cheering fades. I’m more impressed with Carlester as an adviser to college students than Carlester the teenage legend. I’m more impressed with how Rodney has handled personal tragedy than how he handled basketball glory. I’m more impressed with Kay’s legacy as a cancer pioneer than her record as a pioneering coach.

They represent the best among us, but they aren’t alone. This room is full of people whose formal educations began in North Carolina’s public schools, people who developed a love for fair competition and helping teammates reach their potential, people who can look back through the clutter and clatter of modern times and recognize the wisdom of these simple ideas. When I was young, North Carolina was a leader in public education, but we’ve slipped. We should vastly improve the public schools for a future beyond our time – not because it’s the liberal or conservative thing to do, or the black or white thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do. And because out there tonight in North Carolina, other kids are sitting in cars reading their electronic devices – maybe even reading the New York papers – and wondering how their stories will turn out. They deserve a fair chance, too.


This URL will connect you to some amazing North Carolina history:

Here you find a collection of film, most of which comes from North Carolina in the late 1930’s and early 40’s. The film is self explanatory, yet younger people might keep in mind it is “post-depression”, pre-World War 11, and pre-integration.
I lived in one of many small towns featured, Madison in Rockingham County, from 1943-1952. Now almost 75 years old, I was four when we moved there. As I viewed the film I realized that this was done before we moved there, and before I was old enough to remember much. School children, teachers, mill workers faces I didn’t know. Certainly I paid attention, remembering downtown stores, the town clock, and even horse drawn carts on the village main street. Occasionally a face would cause me to wonder, “…wasn’t that man a deacon in The First Baptist Church”, where my Dad was the minister. For the most part I hadn’t seen any of these faces since the 50’s.
And then “… DAMN! There is Ira”. A bolt of memory kicked in. There was Ira Paschal, with his satchel of GRIT newspapers. A nickel a copy. The USA TODAY in Madison.
Every village has them. Ira was a “not quite all there” riot, or one of”those guys” who joined Pompey Cardwell in entertaining the village at a high level. High level!
Certainly I had heard Dad’s lesson, pulpit and kitchen table, about the “less fortunate”, ah but fate enters the tale.
Fate was the fact that Billy Fulton lived only two houses away. And we were thick. Billy had at a remarkable early age diabolical outlook. Every thing from a pre-teen “pornagraphic memory” to “Uncle Louie”. “Uncle Louie” was just home from WW2, and taught us every dirty joke and limmerick the great war interchanged. I never saw him when he wasn’t bent over into the hood of his car, or talking about quail hunting. Or when Billy and I wandered up the hill for Billy to restock with xx rated material.
Free to roam it didn’t take Billy long to find Ira, and a whole new source of fun. “Get your ass over here. Bring Tuddy (Webster, one of many). Ira is selling GRITS, i just saw him.
Vee Bundy moved to Madison about the time we left. His Dad was the Superintendent of schools. Maybe Vee had a parental shove toward the fruits of sin as I did. Didn’t take Billy and Vee long to find each other. “Vee, there he is. The one and only, Ira Paschal. C’mon, I’ll show you.” Guess who.
Vee just sent me this tale:

Tom, how about sending me that information also.

I remember being in Sharpe’s Barber Shop and hearing a story about someone who had dropped a lighted cigarette in Ira’s coat pocket and the coat caught on fire. A week or so later, Ira returned the favor and burned up a new sport coat that the perpetrator was wearing. He was in the barber shop complaining about Ira messing up his expensive sport coat and Jack Carter told him that Ira probably felt the same was about the old leather coat that he was wearing. I remember thinking that the guy got what he deserved and my opinion of Jack Carter when up about tenfold because he obviously felt the same way.

This film is a godsend for us olders. While I can’t remember what happened on hole #7 on the golf course once getting to #9, I’ve still got some vivid memories of Madison, and my friend, Billy.

Want a treat? Find a family member or friend if you are fortunate to have one in their 80’s, from one of these North Carolina towns. Help them view their past. Comments I’ve heard go like this:
“Thanks for telling me about this. I saw my fifth grade teacher. I HATED HER GUTS, BUT SHE MADE ME WANT TO PROVE HER WRONG ABOUT ME.” DR. Tyson Jennette of Henderson
and,”…that boy right there–he was in the 8TH grade then. He didn’t make it back from the war. A lot didn’t”.

A belated thanks to Mr. H.Lee Waters.

A P.S. to Vee Bundy. I was angry at my Dad for a long time for taking me away from my buddies. And I some how resented you for a while, because you got my spot. In retrospect we all are probably better off. I mean mixing us in with Fulton, David Spear, Tuddy,Quate, Seele, and Ira?

NOTE: Should anyone have trouble finding the Water’s film, google 1. Duke University library 2. H. Lee Waters fim collection. 3. then call up the listed town(s) you wish to view. tp


I have written a lot about Coach Bill Miller, former basketball coach at Elon University. Even dared to use his language, which was rough. Here goes again: Elon established a FAMILY PASS issued to allow the holder and family members to all home athletic contests. Coach Miller noticed an older man who brought his grandson to a lot of home games. Miller gave him a pass. It wasn’t long before local feedback revealed the new recipient was badmouthing the coach, team, and school. Coach called “GRANDPA JOHN” in for an office visit. Conversation went like this: Miller: “John, you got that pass I gave you?” John: “Right here” and shows him the cardboard slip. Miller tears the pass into small pieces and hands to John. Miller growls: “That ought to be easier to stick up your ass. Now don’t come by my office again, or to one of my games.” A friend and I once visited a mutual friend who had some bad luck. As we left I told the troubled one something like this: “Well let us know if there is anything we can do to help”. Out of earshot, my accompanying friend said, “…if you really want to help someone, don’t do it that way”. Why? “Because, he is embarrassed. He’ll tell you no, no matter what. If you really are sincere take a generous cash gift and hand it to him. No questions, no restrictions. Walk away. You may lose some money, but more probably you will gain a lifetime friend.” He was so right. I wrote a self-published book in 2007. Wasn’t on a bucket list. My list included trying to learn about computers. Wasn’t long before I realized I’d have to type. Which was abandoned in 1955. The typing has been troublesome, but my 3rd and 4th books are done. Getting better each time (typing anyway). And I learned a little about how tough it is in the business world. When I first arrived at Elon I was used to access to the front offices or administration. Now I was quickly advised , “we don’t give our product away”. That was 1985.  Elon’s discount rate is about 11%. This year I watched as a fine area school had to shut the door. Not surprising was learning their discount rate was about 60%. Bad business. Still I give away books with abandon. The first book did teach me a little. I know who the GREENFLIES (baseball term) are. And I can tell quickly who read the book. Writing a book isn’t easy. I imagine writing a “good” book is even harder. I am 75 years old. Hard bark. Criticism is fine. But don’t bs an old guy. If you want to trash a book, or artwork, or musicians, at least pay the freight. Then you have the right. Some aren’t getting the comps they did in 2007. But please be kind to the young ones. 1. NEVER PASS A LEMONADE STAND. 2. EVER BEEN A WAITER? EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE, ONCE IN THEIR LIVES. BEATING UP ON A DEFENSELESS EMPLOYEE? NOT COOL. 3. TIP THE GOOD ONES GENEROUSLY. 4. SUPPORT ART, CREATIVITY, EFFORT. 5. PAY ANY AUTHOR FOR THE BOOK. HE/SHE HAS MUCH MORE IN IT THAN THE PRICE. 6. BE KINDER 7. TIP THE PAPER DELIVERY PERSON. 8. GARBAGE COLLECTOR. BE NICE TO THOSE GUYS. 9. “BUSINESS MEN THEY DRINK MY WINE, PLOW MEN DIG MY EARTH. NO ONE AMONG THEM KNOWS WHAT ANY OF IT IS WORTH”. 10. YOU ARE GOING TO WANT A “FAMILY PASS”.

THE FRENCH OPEN 2015 (132)

The quote below is from a blog article I wrote in 2010 (#10 THE NEXT LEVEL):

“This also makes me wonder about the upward evolution of the game, and who will achieve the next level. Djokovic has almost perfected “corner to corner” baseline strategy. One thing that does seem to be growing in effectiveness is the drop shot. The old adage that “you can’t drop shot on a hard court” is being tested more at the top level.

There are four corners on each side of the court. Two are up at the net. The only player I have seen who could hit a un-returnable drop-shot from the base line was Charlie Owens. Many watched Charlie dismantle quality players with a disguised, feather like drop shot that confounded even great players. Maybe there is someone coming along with this unique touch, who combined with the other tennis skills needed will produce the next level in the never ending evolution of tennis.

Women players might be well advised to note this possibility. And to be aware that not only should she be able to hit drop shots, she must be able to defend against them. My guess is that many players and teachers have realized there are four corners on each side of a tennis court.”

As I write this Andy Murray and Novak Djokavic are fighting it out in the 2015 semi-finals of the French Open. These two guys both have led the way in the predicted upsurge of the effective dropshot in modern tennis. The Joker was particularly adept in his quarters win over Rafa. Not only does the drop shot win points, it tires and discourages opponents. This ties to what seems obvious about the next “level of play” Nadel cited the Joker’s fitness level as being the back-breaker. The dropshot included in the wear and tear process.

Other observations from the French:
1. NOTHING has changed on the American front. Three men posted early tournament wins (Isner,Johnson,and Jack Sock), Again, all these guys had a college background and all have publicly said without college experience they would not be out there. Same story for doubles and the Bryans (College stars). None went without a scholarship. Serena is in the finals. She didn’t go to college, but neither did she go the USTA route. It seems to me the 17 MILLION USTA academy dollars produced little in our country. Or any “academy”. Unless you figure it this way: The academies housed,fed, coached and ostensibly schooled its clients. Isn’t this what a college program does. While Isner, our top ranked man, opted for college rather than turning pro, maybe the University of Georgia was a better “academy”. John thinks so. I do too.

P.S. A storm threat just halted the Joker and Andy. 3/3 in the fourth and while I wanted to see who would survive and win, I’m glad they stopped. One of these warriors may have died before quitting out there. What heart. And what a message to youngsters about the next level of play. You better be in shape. Agassi revived his career by getting super shape.
Be prepared to watch some dropshots and running. Borg had a one word explantion: “LEGS”.