Two Good Tennis Books

pancho bookIf you are a reader and enjoy books about tennis players, here are two that are worth adding to your reading pile…

“Man With a Racket” The autobiography of Pancho Gonzales (as told to Cy Rice). (1959 A.S. Barnes & co).

Thanks to Willy Hoffmann for the loan of this old classic. I prefer “life stories” that are just that… how the player began and developed; not “life through a series of tennis matches” (as is the case in the Pete Sampras autobiography).

According to the book jacket, “The tale Pancho has to tell is a very human one. It is one of a great athlete fiercely dedicated to his sport, who treads the road to success in his own way and at his own breakneck pace. Always the incorrigible iconoclast, Gonzales has had only one supreme ambition – to play tennis and to play it better than anyone else in the world.”

Golden Boy: The Life and Times of Lew Hoad, a Tennis Legend Paperback – June 16, 2001 by Larry Hodgson (Author), Dudley Jones (Author), Pete Sampras (Foreword)

Thanks to Hank Irvine for the loan of this book chronicling the life of one of Australia’s greatest ever players. I especially enjoyed the sections of the book that talked about our Newk Camp Legends in their early days with Hoad on the tour. How Roy Emerson and doubles partner Fred Stolle would take turns staying out late during a tournament – so that at least ONE of them wasn’t hung over during the match.

Lew Hoad’s progress is traced from humble beginnings in a Sydney suburb to becoming one of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen. Often referred to as the “Golden Boy” of tennis, blond, good-looking Hoad was probably the first ever tennis superstar. In this book, his incredible feats “on court” as well as the colorful and dramatic events “off court”, are unfurled against a backdrop of major changes in the sport.

His early tussles with life-long friend and rival, Ken Rosewall, are described – the diminutive Rosewall who was three months his senior and thrashed him 6-0, 6-0 in their first four matches.

What tennis books are in your reading pile?

This week’s Florida Super Senior Grand Prix tournament (without me and recovering Hank Irvine) is at The Meadows in Sarasota. For yesterday’s results and draws, click HERE

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9 thoughts on “Two Good Tennis Books

  1. George

    I read the “The Lew Hoad Story” by Jack Pollard in 1963. The book was written in 1958 and was essentially a book about how great Ken Rosewall was. In the mid 70’s, when Ken Rosewall played for the Pittsburgh Triangles”, I ran into him in a small cramped bathroom at a restaurant and told him that I loved reading the book primarily because it was all about him rather than Lew! he chuckled.

    Jim, this biography was very similar in its praise for Rosewall. thanks, george

  2. “A handful of Summers” by Gordon Forbes. Best tennis book that I have read.

    Chuck, i have heard several people say the same. i must get it. thanks, george

  3. Thanks for those suggestions, George. A good book that I read recently is “Ashe vs Connors: Wimbledon 1975” a match that is considered to be one of the greatest upsets of all time, in any sport.

    Bill, thanks! george

  4. The single greatest book on tennis I’ve ever read was Tim Gallway’s. “Inner Game of Tennis…Playing the game” This was the follow-up book to “Inner Game of Tennis” where Gallway details drills to improve consistency and ball watching ability. To this day I “follow the trajectory ” which was one the exercises in the book.

    Jim, strangely, those are two I have not read, but will add to my list. Thanks. George

  5. and believe it or not
    Double Fault , My Rise and Fall / Roscoe Tanner by Mike Yorkey

    Willy, if that was the same Tanner book i read, i thought it was “ok”. george

  6. This post brings to mind the story that I believe John Newcombe has told several times, Pancho certainly had an irascible enough personality (some have even said mean and nasty) and he was big and strong enough probably to have taken out some of the other guys, especially physically smaller guys like Muscles, with a punch or two.

    Anyway, the story involves Lew Hoad, who if my memory serves me had a background as a boxer in Australia and was a pretty tough and physically dominant guy himself. As I remember Newk telling it, Hoad did not suffer Pancho’s bad behavior well and eventually he had gotten tired enough of Gonzales and his nonsense. So he grabbed Pancho by the neck with his one hand, literally lifting Pancho up so his feet no longer touched the ground, and brandishing his other hand with a fist basically told Pancho how he was going to pulverize him if he ever did whatever he was doing again. Reportedly, Gonzales was terrified of Hoad after this and gave him a very wide berth.

    I have not read either of these two books but I wonder if there is any reference to the above incident in either of them. My guess is Pancho would never have mentioned this in his own autobiography and, as for Hoad, it is unclear whether a biography about him would have gotten into a story like this that might paint him in a less than “golden boy” light.

    Marty, i remember hearing the story; but i do not believe it is in either book. george

  7. Also, I agree with Chuck Kinyon to get and read Gordon Forbes’ excellent autobiographical book, “A Handful of Summers.” It is absolutely one of the funniest and most entertaining books around about what being a touring tennis player was really like in the late 50’s/ early 60’s. Forbes’ various escapades with his sometimes doubles partner and friend, Abe Segal, are to cherish. Also, the story about Rod Laver, the bed and the ghost is probably worth the price of the book alone. And some of the stories about Cliff Drysdale (who was Forbes’ brother in law) when he was young are quite entertaining, especially for those of us who know Cliffie from Tennis Fantasies and have seen the less public side of his personality. Definitely worth reading, and probably reading again.

    However, you may need to special order the book, borrow it or get it from a library. A few years ago it was out of print in the US, Amazon did not carry it, and I think my wife had to order it online from a publisher in Europe (and pay in Euros) to get the book for my birthday. It was definitely worth the hassle to get it.

    Marty, my library doesn’t have it either; so i ordered from Amazon yesterday! thanks, george

  8. Completely agree with prior comments about both of Gordon Forbes’ jewels. I can’t get enough about reading of that era and have reread both of them several times. For a memorable week of tennis with one of the great all time legends, I highly recommend Roy Emerson’s summer tennis weeks at the Gstaad Palace in Gstaad Switzerland—an unforgettable experience.

    John, I have been wanting to go to Emmo’s summer camp for years! Maybe someday… George

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