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Frank Silbermann
03-27-2007, 08:48 PM
Two things bug me about most tennis texts. Either they show you the strokes with a collection of unrealistic still poses, or they take their photographs from video of people whose strokes aren't all that good. I always wonder, "Can't they find anybody with picture-perfect strokes to film in action for this book?"

From the Wikipedia:
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Frank Kovacs (1919 - 1990) was an American tennis player in the 1940s; he was known as the "Clown Prince of Tennis" for his on-court antics but was a good enough player to be the number 3-ranked American in 1940 and the number 2 in 1941.
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Although he showed flashes of brilliance (it was said of him that on the right days, when he was briefly "in the zone", he could be unbeatable), his career results were relatively mundane. His best amateur result was a second-place finish in the U.S. National Singles Championship in 1941, losing to Bobby Riggs; he also had a second-place finish in the United States Pro Championship in 1950, losing to Pancho Segura in the finals. As tennis great Jack Kramer, and Kovacs' near contemporary, has written: "Kovacs had picture strokes, but the reason he could never win anything is because he didn't have any idea how to go about winning. He never had a set plan for a match. Hell, he never had a set plan for a shot. He could sort of decide what to do with it halfway through the stroke."

Kovacs' best shot, says Kramer, was "a hard, angled backhand crosscourt, but he could never figure out how to set it up so he could take advantage of it." As Riggs said to Kramer one day: "...don't worry about Frankie.... He looks great, but give him long enough and he'll find some way to keep you in the match, and give him a little longer and he'll find a way to beat himself."
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OK, so this guy sounds like a good model (at least for people who still want to learn the classical style). Where do I go about finding video clips (or even still photos) of Frank Kovacs' forehand and backhand? Forget the fact that he wasn't a smart competitor; if his strokes were so perfect then _someone_ ought to have recorded them for posterity.