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Tennis Confidential II (No. II) Hardcover – April 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"As accurate in his identification of the facts as a Ken Rosewall backhand, as ruthlessly logical in his evaluation of them as Ivan Lendl's approach to the game, and as passionately exuberant in his defense of tennis's heart and soul as Andre Agassi in full flight, Paul Fein is a brilliant tennis writer."

--Chris Lewis, 1983 Wimbledon finalist -- Chris Lewis, 1983 Wimbledon finalist

"Paul Fein is one of the most clear-eyed, passionate tennis authors, coaches, and players we have, and in a perfect world this book would be required reading for the game's leaders and its followers."

--From the foreword by Mary Carillo, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning TV analyst for ESPN, CBS, HBO, and NBC -- Mary Carillo, Peabody and Emmy-winning TV analyst for ESPN, CBS, HBO and NBC

"Paul Fein's books are a treasure, rich in historical perspective, humor, controversy, and in-depth analysis of the game's most sensitive issues. He absolutely belongs in the company of Bud Collins, John Barrett, and Steve Flink, and other leading historians of the game. If you sense a decline in your tennis passion, try Tennis Confidential II. The game comes splendidly to life."

--Bruce Jenkins, award-winning sportswriter for The San Francisco Chronicle -- Bruce Jenkins, award-winning sportswriter for The San Francisco Chronicle

* 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, July 2008

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. -- Foreword Magazine, April 2008

Tennis Confidential II ***** by Paul Fein Potomac Books, USA Hardback, £24

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. -- ACE Tennis Magazine (UK), May 2008

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 -- Australian Tennis Magazine, July 2008

About the Author

Paul Fein is a renowned tennis journalist and author of Tennis Confidential: Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies (Brassey's, Inc., 2002) and You Can Quote Me on That: Greatest Tennis Quips, Insights, and Zingers (Potomac Books, Inc., 2005). His articles have appeared in twenty-five foreign countries, and earned over twenty writing awards. Fein's diverse tennis background includes being a top-ten sectional tournament player, satellite tournament founder and director, USPTA teaching pro, New England tournament consultant, cable TV commentator, and tennis club and council president. He lives in Agawam, Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597971731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597971737
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,932,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Paul Fein has done it again. He has written an excellent sequel to his earlier tennis books. This new book provides both an insightful history of the game of tennis, from its origins to the present, as well as in-depth interviews with many of the game's luminaries. He rates both men and women champions,giving impeccable reasoning for his choices. (The only quibble this reviewer has with the list of male champions is Fein's exclusion of Lew Hoad among the top ten.) Bringing his analysis right up to the present, Fein asks the questions of Roger Federer's place among the tennis greats. The author will have to write Tennis Confidential III to address the issue of Raphael Nadal's place in history after the latter's stunning victory over Federer in the Wimbledon 2008 finals.

Among the many fascinating topics in the book, Fein covers the skills peculiar to doubles and the incongruity of doubles which is favored by recreational players, but relegated far below singles by tournament directors. Another interesting point is Fein's comparison of tennis to golf. Tennis, he asserts, requires a much higher degree of athleticism (hand speed, reaction time, conditioning), as evidenced by the fact that tennis players such as Althea Gibson and Ellsworth Vines have been successful at golf, while no golfers have been successful at tennis at the highest levels. The book is replete with fascinating details on such subjects as the history and progress of women in tennis, the decline of the serve and volley game, feuds between players, and the direction that the U.S. must take to produce the game's elite, as it has in the past. Even tennis fanatics will wonder where Paul Fein got all of his information, including the priceless anecdote of Art Larsen,U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
Paul Fein is nothing short of a master. His latest book, Tennis Confidential II, will make you chuckle at times (don't miss the Fascinating Facts at the end of most chapters), it'll make you cry at others (What! Get rid of player challenges? Let's talk about that!), but most of all it will fire you up and make you consider--and re-consider-- the great tennis issues.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Famous Feuds in Tennis History. Who knew that Renaissance painters even played tennis, let alone that one murdered his tennis opponent over a disputed score? I loved re-living those nasty McEnroe/Connors days. And, by the way, Anna Kournikova fairly drips acid. Oh, it's delicious!

Mostly, I learned a lot. Fein is as instructive as he is entertaining. I didn't know about the 13 factors that make line calling difficult. Even when I thought I understood an issue, Fein gave me more to think about. In my opinion, this book is one that will be enjoyed both by novices and seasoned players. You can check out stories about people who have changed the sport, Fein's list of top players of all time, and some intriguing ideas about how to fire up the game.

Fein says tennis players love to argue. Well . . . we agree on that!
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Format: Hardcover
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 reader 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.
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Format: Hardcover
In his inimitable style, Paul Fein analyzes the issues, arms himself with the facts, and then lets his opponents have it. Whether it's taking a sledgehammer to the misguided advocates of on-court coaching or exposing the flawed thinking that's given rise to the absurdity of player challenges, Fein made me feel like standing up and applauding.

As a coach, I found myself actually cheering when I read his enlightening chapter entitled "How America Can Produce Champions Again." I was fascinated to learn why "the best two-handed backhands are much superior to the best one-handed backhands," and why we should "ditch the flawed, open-stance, two handed backhand that Venus and Serena use regularly." This chapter alone should make the book required reading for any tennis coach with an interest in US junior tennis development.

However, what I liked most of all about the book is that Fein clarified my thinking on many of tennis' controversies. He takes seemingly grey issues, quickly separates the black from the white, and then presents well-reasoned arguments with a certainty that must leave some of tennis' "dogmatists for change" looking for the nearest sewer to slither back into.

On the other hand, if you're an advocate of introducing no-ad scoring, replacing deciding sets with tie-breakers, or sacrificing the integrity of the game to the mindless masses in the name of television and entertainment, whatever you do, don't buy this book. It'll be much too dangerous for your health.
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