“Recently, I read an intriguing book called “101 Incredible Moments In Tennis” (“The Good, The Bad And The Infamous”), authored by a teaching pro and tennis coach named Joshua Shifrin…his boundless enthusiasm for tennis is evident across every page of his book, and he has chosen a wide range of remarkable moments and packaged these pieces of history well. In the process, he has taken us back to some historic landmarks and allowed us to relive or recapture those times of consequence.
At no stage is this book monotonous. The 101 most incredible moments are an eclectic collection. It is a fine mixture of the game at it once was long ago along with the modern world of tennis we know so well. We venture back to Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon in 1977, to “Big Bill” Tilden’s “triumphs and tragedies”, to Fred Perry becoming the first man to record a career Grand Slam in the 1930’s. We travel to Roland Garros, where the young American Kathleen Horvath becomes the one and only player to topple Martina Navratilova in 1983, to the overpowering serving excellence of Ellsworth Vines, who releases 30 aces in only 12 service games against Bunny Austin in the 1932 Wimbledon final.
There is more. We return to the scene of John McEnroe’s disqualification against Mikael Pernfors at the 1990 Australian Open, to “Little Mo” Connolly’s Grand Slam in 1953, to Suzanne Lenglen’s one and only meeting against Helen Wills in 1926. On these pages, Arthur Ashe is producing a strategic masterpiece to strike down defending champion Jimmy Connors in the1975 Wimbledon. Michael Chang is serving under-handed on a crucial point against Ivan Lendl during a stunning upset at the 1989 French Open, the pivotal moment for Chang en route to taking his only career major title. We follow the exploits of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and marvel once more at the greatness of these two towering champions.
Yet all is not joyous in this book. The reader is taken back to the spring of 1993 in Hamburg, when19-year-old Monica Seles was stabbed in the back at a changeover when she was at the height of her powers. Seles had won eight Grand Slam singles championships, and was seemingly on her way to the double digits, but after the tragedy in Hamburg she took only one more major. Another Shifrin moment occurred in 1983 during a U.S. Open junior match. Stefan Edberg hit a serve down the T, and center service linesman Dick Wertheim got hit in the head. As Shifrin writes, “Wertheim, reeling from the blow, fell forward and struck his head on the court. Although he was rushed to a nearby Flushing Meadow, New York hospital, he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. In a devastating turn of events, Wertheim died at the age of 61.”
Each story resides in a separate chapter. Some are amusing and irreverent. Others are monumentally important. A few are relatively obscure but still enjoyable. All are worthy of inclusion. The reader is free to bounce back and forth throughout. Shifrin deliberately does not move chronologically through these vignettes, knowing that his audience would surely like the freedom to move from era to era and story to story without any constraints. On the whole, his formula works. The author is to be commended for sharing his passion with a segment of the public who are similarly devoted to tennis. As he writes, “From playing to watching I am truly consumed by every aspect of the game.”
Anyone who picks up this enjoyable book will recognize that the author is unabashedly a tennis enthusiast. He is to be commended for the originality of his work and his deep appreciation of those who play the game for a living.” – Steve Flink, The Tennis Channel --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.