From Publishers Weekly
Scanlon, a top 10–ranked tennis player in the 1980s, wrote this book partly as a retort to John McEnroe's 2002 autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious
. While he deftly depicts "brat-packers" like Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase and, above all, Mac, his attitude toward the successful McEnroe—whom he played on numerous occasions—might strike some as a severe case of sour grapes. McEnroe's antics were "an act, a contrived tactic of someone who would do anything to escape losing," Scanlon writes. But the book isn't all gripes. Scanlon discusses the impact new technologies had on tennis in the '80s and pays homage to the unsung heroes behind the scenes: the coaches, officials, tournament directors and even sports psychologists who try to keep the players mentally stable. What Scanlon does best, however, is dish. The in-fighting among the athletes is reminiscent of cartoon characters going at it, blowing each other up and coming back in the next episode to start all over. Happily for readers, Scanlon is no reformer, just a not-so-humble former player turned writer.
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Scanlon was a top-10 tennis player in the 1980s and can claim victories over eight number-one-ranked players. His career encompassed tennis' golden age, when talented personalities took the game from back-page summaries to headline fare. The sport quickly became a big-money entertainment venue with intense press scrutiny, and charismatic bad boy McEnroe was always in the middle of it. Scanlon's title may have readers thinking the book is designed as a response to McEnroe's entertaining but self-serving You Cannot Be Serious
(2002), but it's more than that. Jibes toward McEnroe may outnumber those directed at anyone else, but Scanlon's larger purpose is to offer an insider's view of the tennis explosion and the volatile, larger-than-life personalities who fueled it. He describes the increased public recognition, the ever-growing prize money, and the changes in equipment, training methods, court strategy, and coaching. Typically, the enduring appeal of the game itself outlasts the popularity of its stars, but Scanlon describes an era when a sport was eclipsed by its stars. Great reading for tennis fans. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved