What They Are Saying About...
Tennis Confidential II:
Paul Fein is one of the best and intellectually sound tennis writers today. As in his previous two books, he has proven this again in his latest, Tennis Confidential II. The player profiles are both intimate and informative, his analyses of the great players' records and achievements are based on thorough research, his discussion of the hottest topics of the day is provocative, and the player interviews are revealing. By frequently quoting leading players, journalists, and officials, Fein makes the various articles much more interesting and buttresses their objectivity. The sidebars "Fascinating Facts" offer numerous, previously little-known tennis tidbits. While many of the articles appeared in tennis publications several years ago, they are not only timeless, but actually rekindle wonderful memories.
Fein does not shy away from expressing firm opinions. However, rather than simply imposing his views in a dogmatic fashion, he challenges the re ader to at least reexamine preconceived positions. Have you been wondering how to improve line calling? Read this book. Are you opposed to no-ad scoring? Fein will tell you why you are right. Do you need to convince your golfing buddy that his hobby is less of a sport than yours? You will find help in this book.
As far as the numerous profiles of people who have made their important mark on the tennis landscape, it would be difficult to point to any one as being superior. Having always been impressed by Andre Agassi, -- the man, my admiration was strengthened after reading Fein's wonderful piece. And what about the stories of the great bunch of Aussies, their sportsmanship and camaraderie during those simpler amateur days. Also, Fein's descriptions of the sports most enduring characters Nastase, Tiriac, Connors, McEnroe, Gerulaitis, and others -- evoke a nostalgia for the "good old days."
As an interviewer, Fein has few equals. The questions he poses reflect his sound judgement and great knowledge of the game. He obviously makes his subjects comfortable so that their responses are both honest and revealing, thus enabling the reader to gain a new perspective on these stars. I enjoyed these interviews so much that singling any one out would not be fair. However, having said that, I did find the Noah and Wilander interviews particularly insightful.
To the tennis nut, the book offers an enjoyable trip down memory lane, to the casual fan it illuminates previously unseen vistas. I truly believe that anyone even remotely interested in the game of tennis will enjoy reading this book.
Tennis Life Magazine, July 2008
Subtitled ‘More of Today’s Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies’, this is a wonderful follow-up to Fein’s Tennis Confidential (2002).
The book is in three sections,
the first of which comprises a set of essays looking at controversial issues facing those who administer the world game of tennis in the 21st century. Topics covered include
on-court coaching, Hawk-Eye, the ATP doubles reforms, and whether the interests of TV run counter to the long-term interests of the sport.
Part two looks at people and trends that have changed the face of tennis, opening up with a powerful argument for the importance and influence of top women players on society as a whole, and going on to cover such topics as the emergence of Russian women players.
Other subjects addressed with wit and insight include famous tennis feuds and the parallels between tennis and rock music, and there are also articles about Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and Pete Sampras.
Add interviews with leading players past and present including Yannick Noah, Amelie Mauresmo, Stefan Edberg and Martina Hingis, and
the late Gene Scott (founder and publisher of Tennis Week), and you have a stimulating and enjoyable read for the tennis enthusiast.
Richard Jones, who owns the Tennis Gallery in Wimbledon
View the PDF file as the review appeared in the April 2008 issue of ACE Tennis Magazine
Any exciting and fulfilling tennis match includes a broad mix of awe-inspiring shots thrown at the opponent, as well as a variety of pacing from the start to the final point. Tennis Confidential II offers all of these things. Readers will enjoy several biographical chapters about many recent, celebrated tennis greats and revealing Q&A interviews with innovators of the game who have influenced and moved the sport forward.
A substantial amount of space is devoted to "the great debates," which address thought-provoking questions, such as whether tennis or golf is the tougher sport, if on-court coaching should be allowed, and the reasons for the disappearance of fast-paced serve-and-volley games.
The author draws from a wealth of research and personal experience on many levels. He is an award-winning author of numerous magazine articles on tennis, as well as two books on the subject: Tennis Confidential: Today's Greatest Players, Matches and Controversies and You Can Quote Me on That: Greatest Tennis Quips, Insights and Zingers. He has also been a tennis instructor, college referee, tournament consultant, and a committee chairperson for establishing player rankings. The author isn't above stirring up the pot with his opinions. Russian women, he says for example, have come on strong in the pro ranks in recent years. Their dominance, with hard-hitting beauties like Anna Kournikova, can be traced to the winning-is-everything mentality fostered at Russian training centers, the lure of big money, and an opening of borders, says the author. "Many of the current crop are also blessed with superb athletic genes," he adds, noting that many of today's women prodigies are the offspring of Olympians of several sports.
Some American tennis greats, particularly the men, have, embarrassingly enough, achieved the reputation of being super brats. Jimmy Connors, with his obscene gestures to the spectators, was usually evenly matched in crudeness with John McEnroe and his infamous childish rantings.
Like a game of tennis, the book has something for everyone. Recreational players will likely read it cover-to-cover. Personality watchers can be more than content to limit themselves to the chapters on the colorful characters, skipping the section on rule changes and scoring systems. And the book might be just the impetus couch potatoes need for digging their rackets out of the closet and donning their whites for a few sets. (April)
Review by: Karl Kunkel for Foreword magazine
- Nick Bollettieri once said of his former pupil Andre Agassi, “When I had Andre for six and one-half years, my main job was to keep him out of jail.”
- Thomas Muster once grabbed a banana out of his opponent Felix Mantilla’s hands during a changeover and ate it.
- Boris Becker once asked his wife to shoot him.
- Tim Henman once told British reporters, “Why on Earth would I be interested in what you are saying about my game?”
These are just a few of the many tidbits revealed by award-winning writer Paul Fein in his book, Tennis Confidential II: More of Today’s Greatest Players, Matches and Controversies, an updated-and-enhanced accompaniment to his must-read ‘02 release.
In tackling everything from the interminable tennis vs. golf debate to the death of the serve-and-volley game, longtime Inside Tennis contributor Fein shares his insightful and thought-provoking opinions on a myriad of hot-button topics. Who’s the greatest player ever? (Pete, Tilden and Laver get high marks.) Is it counterproductive to allow players to challenge line calls? How about on-court coaching? Scoring system changes? The networks and tennis’ governing bodies push these reforms, but do they benefit the game?
“Whether you agree or disagree with my analyses, I guarantee you’ll think about these controversies in new ways,” says Fein. “Perhaps you will even change some of your staunchly held positions.”
A tennis wonk extraordinaire, Fein also shares his thoughts on today’s headliners, including Federer, Sharapova, Roddick and the Williams sisters, plus former champions such as Agassi, Noah, Courier, Hingis and Edberg. He chronicles the evolution of the women’s game, and includes a dozen in-depth Q&As. Confidentially speaking, if you love tennis, you’ll love this Tennis Confidential sequel.
-- INSIDE TENNIS Magazine
When it comes to colorful characters, spectacular incidents, unending controversies and startling quotes, no sport can hold a candle to tennis. Football and cricket are dull by comparison, golf positively staid. Men’s tennis has produced such lovable rogues as Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe, shining knights like Rod Laver and Roger Federer, and showmen Yannick Noah and Andre Agassi. Women’s tennis has given us the provocative Williams sisters, a series of precocious teenagers, and feisty Dads from Jim Pierce to Yuri Sharapov and Damir Dokic.
Paul Fein, an American freelance tennis writer, chronicled many of the most bizarre happenings in tennis in Tennis Confidential: Today’s Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies. Now comes a sequel, Tennis Confidential II. Other, similar books may be in the pipeline, for Fein is insatiable in his hunger for detail, and knows exactly where to look and who to ask for information about life on the tour and behind it.
Some of Fein’s snippets are found in his interviews with some of the game’s smartest performers on and off the court – personalities as diverse as Martina Hingis and Jelena Jankovic,
Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras, and Todd Woodbridge. More knowledgeable on tennis than most tennis writers, Fein knows that the key to a productive interview lies in the research that’s done beforehand. He knows his subject and succeeds sometimes with disconcerting directness, at others with clever subtlety.
On Mats Wilander: “Women [players] dress a lot better than men,” according to the Swede. “I would be nice if the men got some of the old-fashioned, tight, good-looking stuff back. The men have great physiques, but with the baggy clothing you can’t see it. You should show off your physical strength and muscles. A match between two well-dressed guys makes tennis a lot more interesting because it’s one-on-one and basically you’re on a stage.”
On Amelie Mauresmo: Mauresmo told Fein the commercial world hadn’t shunned her for admitting she was gay. “I think people are getting more open-minded, which is good…I have
three or four major endorsements.” After winning Wimbledon, Mauresmo donned a sponsor’s T-shirt that carried the message, “2006 Wimbledon Champion. I am what I am.”
On nice guy Stefan Edberg: “Having only nice guys may have worked 30, 40 years ago,” said the Swede, “but we live in a different society today. It’s almost abnormal to be normal today. If you are normal today, you don’t get any attention. You need to be really good or really bad.”
Fein divides his book into three parts The Great Debates (Is On-Court Coaching Good for Tennis? Where Have all the Serve and Volleyers Gone? Etc); People and Trends that Changed the Sport (Famous Feuds in Tennis History, From Russia with Love. Etc); and Compelling Characters Hold Court (Inside the Mind of Mats Wilander. Etc). Although it highlights the tennis glitterati, the book is aimed more at the true aficionado rather than groupies. It makes a worthy addition to any tennis library.
Alan Trengove, Australian Tennis Magazine
Tennis Confidential II gives tennis players and fans more of what they liked in the first edition by Paul Fein: insights into the game with both today’s players and yesterday’s legends. If you’re a player, there are cogent interviews and discussions with players about the game, their games and the burning issues. If you’re an armchair enthusiast, the features and Q & A’s take you inside the heads of the top stars and stars-to-be. A fun read with serious commentary and historical perspective.
Donna Doherty, former editor of Tennis magazine
If you liked Tennis Confidential, you'll love this sequel. CollegeandJuniorTennis.com
There’s a severe shortage of intelligent writing about tennis. Fortunately, Paul Fein is trying to compensate, releasing his latest book, Tennis Confidential II. Mary Carillo writes the foreword and she presents Fein as a tennis version of baseball’s Bill James. Someone bright enough to address the game’s crucial debates and figures without being trapped in other eras; forward thinking, what a concept in tennisworld! I look forward to a good summer read.
Ted Robinson, USA Network Tennis Commentator
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone, anywhere in the world, as passionate about tennis as Paul Fein of Agawam.
The evidence is neatly contained in Fein's third book, "Tennis Confidential II - More of Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies" (Potomac Books, 288 pages, hard-cover, $27.50), published last month. The book is a compilation of 32 essays, features and interviews on a wide range of tennis topics Fein has written since his successful first "Tennis Confidential" was published in 2002.
In each chapter, it's easy to glean Fein's love and knowledge of the sport. The pieces are well written, thought-provoking and loaded with details about players, disputes, rules, history and more. For tennis players and fans, "Tennis Confidential II" and the original book indeed live up to the "something for everyone" axiom.
For example, Part 1 "The Great Debates" opens with chapters discussing the greatest men's and women's tennis players ever. That discussion came up just the other day in a local newspaper sports department after Rafael Nadal drubbed a contender for greatest ever, Roger Federer, in the French Open final. In a 2007 postscript to his 2005 piece, Fein asserts, "Federer's competition among elite players has been relatively weak and shallow." But Fein hints that Nadal and others would improve and the level of elite players would rise.
Another topic for any player is "Should Tiebreakers Replace Deciding Sets?" The tentacles of this heinous rules change reached the USTA Adult League Tennis' Valley League this year. Some of us hate it; maybe some love it. Fein's essay concerns the pro game, but club players can relate to his worries about the attack on the game's scoring system.
Meanwhile, Part 3, "Compelling Characters Hold Court," is a set of 12 Q&A interviews that are purely enjoyable to read for players and just plain fans alike. The interviews with Yannick Noah and the late Tennis Week publisher Gene Scott are highlights.
"The typical fan may lean toward the human side with the interviews, but the hardcore fan may go toward the part of the book with the essays," Fein said. Fein wasn't planning to do the book, but received "a surprise request" from his publisher to do a book similar to the first. While the first book culled about 25 years worth of material, a second book would have a far shorter span of work available. But that's where Fein's intense passion for the game comes in handy.
"As you know, I feel very strong about several issues. I may be the only person who writes full-length essays on tennis issues, at least in English," Fein said. The essays are indeed long - the text alone from a typical Fein piece would fill a newspaper page - and are loaded with a combination of history, quotes from the game's top personalities and Fein's perspective.
"I care very deeply about tennis issues because of my various involvements in the sport," said Fein, who grew up in Springfield and Longmeadow in the 1950s and '60s and has been involved in all aspects of tennis through the years - from top-ranked player to linesman, tournament director, teaching pro and writer.
That deep involvement resulted in a wonderful dedication: "To the unsung heroes in tennis: Tennis moms and dads, racket stringers, court maintenance workers, tournament volunteers, high school coaches, community organizers, TV camera operators, association and club committee members, and all those who work so others can play. Without them, where would we be?"
Fein added, "I gave a lot of thought to that. It's an amateur sport, and I want those people to be recognized and appreciated. I wanted to pay tribute to them."
The book's foreword is a tribute to Fein from TV commentator Mary Carillo. "I am indebted to Paul for contributing so much intelligence, common sense, and uncommon sense to the dialogue of the sport," she writes.
In sum, Fein feels he has a worthy followup to the original "Tennis Confidential."
"I think really it's just as good as the other book. I think the essays are better, but that's in the eyes of the reader," he said.
Joe Deburro, Sunday Republican (Springfield, Mass.)
After reading Paul Fein's newest compilation of tennis insights, "Tennis Confidential II," it's easy to see why Mary Carillo wrote in her Foreword that "in a perfect world, this book would be required reading for the game's leaders and its followers."
The subtitle of the book is "More of Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies," and it includes plenty of captivat ing substance and thought stimulators. The first of three sections entitled "The Great Debates" explores such ongoing topics as: the greatest players ever, doubles reforms, dwindling serve and vollyers, tennis vs. golf, player challenges, and what's wrong with American tennis. Fein uses relevant quotes from past and current tennis leaders to present all sides, then proposes intelligent solutions and analyses.
In discussing the greatest players, Grand Slam wins were just one of eight criteria Fein used to come up with his all-time list. On the Player Challenge system for line calls, we learn that a Vic Braden study once found that "...the human eye is not able to see the actual landing spot." We discover how many of the top doubles teams got together, what attributes some players like in a partner; and how other countries are producing so many champions.
In Tennis Confidential II's second section, Fein also takes an in-depth look on "People and Trends Who Changed the Sport" and the last section is a series of revealing interviews. I was surprised to learn that no-ad scoring, which is often used in area leagues and tournaments to end matches quicker, helps the underdog and makes matches only four minutes shorter on average. And did you know that in 1973 three of the four Grand Slams were contested on grass?
Whatever you take away from this book, it surely gives you new and different perspectives on the game's history and its many complexities. I recommend it.
Ann LoPrinzi, Tennis Writer, Trenton Times
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