The Education of a Tennis Player

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by urban, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Just received the new 2009 edition of Rod Laver's memoir from 1971. I will send some more comments after reading the whole book, especially the new added parts. Maybe some of the poster already have read it, and can make some comments. For now i noticed, that the book added 196 titles won by Laver in the appendix list. Especially to Carlo, Jeffrey and Andrew Tas: At last our groundwork at wikipedia seems to go into the written books and records. That's very gratefying to see. I always found the title very good, because it shows the eternal development process, which characterizised Laver's career and life, even the recovery period after his stroke.
     
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  2. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    This book was one of the things that made me realize that it was a lie when people said, "The backhand is the more natural shot; most good players have better backhands than forehands." They were talking about one-handed backhands, and yes, many tennis teachers really said this.

    But in Laver's book he admits that he began working on his topspin backhand as a young boy and by his "last years as an amateur had learned to control it."

    My God! In Laver's last years as an amateur he was playing Grand Slam tournaments, and winning them! It wasn't until _then_ that he could control the basic backhand drive??? So much for it being a natural shot. So much for it being better than his forehand, which I'm sure he learned to control much earlier than that.
     
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  3. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Um...a lot of pros have said this as well. Just because Laver struggled with his (and believe me, he's exaggerating a bit there....it's all relative), doesn't mean this isnt' true.
     
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  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think it depends a lot on the person. I know a number of people with one handed backhands who are so natural and smooth with the shot.

    I also recall Ivan Lendl stating clearly that he felt there is no way the one handed backhand is a more natural shot than the forehand. His logic was if you push on the back of the hand which is obviously the way you would hit a one handed backhand, the hand is weaker and cannot push back as easily. But if you do it on the other side as if you're hitting a forehand, well the hand has more strength to push back.

    Lendl used to practice a lot with Laver (who was Lendl's idol) in the mid to late 1980's and he admitted that Laver was more talented than him and that he (Lendl) wished he had the mid to late 1980's Laver's volley. So Lendl admitted that a Laver in his late forties to early fifties had a better volley than a Lendl at his peak.

    In those practice matches the announcers on television mentioned that Lendl used to break Laver about 1 out of every three service games. They figured that Lendl used to beat Laver with an average set score of around 6-3. I wonder if Laver won any sets from Lendl at that time. I would guess he must have won an occasional set.
     
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  5. AndrewTas

    AndrewTas Rookie

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    I had also recently got a copy of the book and read the new chapters. There is insight in his career after winning the second GS and also his stroke. It was a good followup. Betty Laver's (Laver's sister-in-law) has also written a book about Laver's life and career which is very good.

    The tournaments won (197) listed and the matches won-lost at the end of the updated version of The Education of a Tennis Player was supplied by me to the publisher. I did mention to him that the tournament list was compiled using resources such as this site, various annuals and books and my own research. I only put in tournaments where I have verified, so a couple of tournaments mentioned in Wikipedia I have not included. People are working on verifying others.
     
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  6. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Andrew, as i said, i am very glad, that those tournaments won list is included now on the written record. When i started out on the internet around 2005, Laver still was credited with 39 wins (following the incomplete ATP side) or 47 titles won, a list, which refered only to the open era, but was often falsely seen as his absolute numbers, even by members of the tennis media. Even the Bud Collins encyclopedias gave only selective numbers of the pro period. On the basis of the McCauley and Sutter books we got a clearer picture, and Your, Andrew's, fantastic stats made the picture even clearer. Betty Laver's book i read, too, it gives worthful information, but there a complete list is missing. I also noticed, that this year some newspaper articles on Laver, at New York Times by Dave Anderson or at the The Independent, were using the wikipedia numbers, in regard of Laver's head to heads with Hoad and Gonzales or Emerson, or his overall wins. That's a good sign.
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Here at least, is one example of Wikipedia serving as a good source and being put to good use.
     
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  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I have the new edition too, and I was hoping to be able to replace the old version, but some old text has been cut out, not just new text added. I've read all the new text added from the point where the last edition ended, and I've scanned some of the earlier chapters to see what else might have changed. So it's a little difficult to know exactly where all the changes are, without reading the whole thing again.

    One example I found of lost text is the statement in the old editions that he wanted to break Roy Emerson's record of 12 Slams. In the new edition the perspective is the present day, not the 1970s, so there is a new passage about Sampras breaking a record which everyone had forgotten was owned by Emerson.

    I miss some more of the old thoughts in the book, that are no longer there. The old edition ended with Laver saying, to the tennis reader, that nobody wants to hear your excuses, or mine. I loved that. And of course it makes sense back then for him to say it, because he was a top player, just having finished his Grand Slam. That was the theme of the book -- a recent achievement just completed. Now there are some generalized words about how he's loved the sport for decades. It's fine, but I feel I need to keep the old edition, for the old words and the flavor of that moment in time.

    Everything is now in the past tense. About Arthur Ashe, "I can't imagine how it would be to walk in his shoes" now becomes, "I can't imagine what it would have been like to walk in his shoes." I must admit it's a little disjointed to read thoughts that were penned back then, as if they were penned today. And the words meant something different back then. Now it sounds like a generalized compliment to Ashe, looking back at his whole life, but in their own context Laver was appreciating a man whose career and difficulties were just beginning. So again I prefer the old words and context, and might have preferred, in a new edition, for everything to remain the same, with new chapters simply added at the end.
     
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  9. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I haven't read all the parts yet nor compared it with the old edition (i have one from 1971, there was another one in 1973 with already added chapters). I remember, that Laver in 1969 was quite critical of Ashe. In the way, that he should more focus on his tennis game. Ashe had needled Laver a bit by saying that the new generation 'after Laver' had arrived and taken over.
    On the other hand, Ashe at that time was more of media star and only just had begun his social activities. Laver did some of social work himself: I have read in a Jesse Owens book, that Laver in 1969 replaced Ashe, who had suddenly cancelled the invitation, in a social event, held by Owens for the black community in New York. And in Ashe's book Days of Grace one can read, that when his HIV infection was announced, Laver was the first, who sent him a message. Laver was also the first at hand, who attended the funerals of Hoad and, more surprsing, of Gonzalez (he was the only player present at Pancho's funeral besides Pasarell and Moore).
     
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  10. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's hard for Laver and Bud to discuss the past in that manner since they are discussing it from present times.

    I don't have the new edition yet but I should be getting it soon. Does Laver discuss some of the recent players like Sampras and Federer?
     
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  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Not a whole lot, the new text at the end is not that extensive. There are new passages in the earlier chapters, so there may be more in there, but just looking at the index, Pete and Roger are mentioned briefly just a few times.
     
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  12. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Too bad. I would have been curious about what Rod thought of the players of the last 35 or so years like Nastase, Smith, Federer, Agassi, Sampras, Becker Borg and Connors for example.
     
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  13. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Urban,

    You still need to read that book very carefully because the voice that is genuinely Laver's is obscured to a great extent by the voice that belongs to Collins. I can say that there are lot of people here (family and former players - I do live in their neck of the woods), who read it as a Bud Collins book about Rod Laver with some input from the man himself.

    On another note, have you read the book about Ken Fletcher (The Great Fletch - The Dazzling Life of Wimbledon Aussie Larrikin Ken Fletcher). A light but interesting read about someone who has been mostly forgotten by the historians.
     
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  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    AndrewD,

    How did you like the book on Fletcher? It seems like many of the Aussies used to say he had the best forehand of all of them. I never see any video of him but if he had the best forehand of the Aussies, it much have been incredible considering the great forehands many of the Aussies had.
     
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  15. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Of course, Andrew D, there was/is more Bud in this book than Laver. The often "flowery" style is certainly not Laver's. But many books of players were collaborated. Laver's first book Winning Tennis was (co-)written by Jack Pollard, who did the same for Lew Hoad. And the Sampras and Agassi books are certainly not O-tone.
    No, i haven't got the Fletch book. Its on Thetennisgallery.co.uk
     
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  16. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    When I first read the book, I felt that I could pick out Bud's voice quite easily, especially the "jokey" lines. But it's something I'm always forgetting, of course Bud's voice must be in there too in the serious parts. I think that the dual authorship may well have something to do with the contradictory statements about Emerson's record.
     
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  17. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    earlier: This book was one of the things that made me realize that it was a lie when people said, "The backhand is the more natural shot; most good players have better backhands than forehands." They were talking about one-handed backhands, and yes, many tennis teachers really said this.

    But in Laver's book he admits that he began working on his topspin backhand as a young boy and by his "last years as an amateur had learned to control it."

    My God! In Laver's last years as an amateur he was playing Grand Slam tournaments, and winning them! It wasn't until _then_ that he could control the basic backhand drive??? So much for it being a natural shot. So much for it being better than his forehand, which I'm sure he learned to control much earlier than that.
    I suspect the pros who said this were talking about their slice backhands. Otherwise, why is it that in Laver's day everyone (including Laver himself) hit almost nothing but slice backhands in baseline-to-baseline rallies?
     
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