National Women's Tennis Organization — September newsletter
THE FEIN POINTS OF TENNIS
TECHNIQUES & TACTICS TO UNLEASH YOUR TALENT
Written by Paul Fein, with Foreword by Dick Gould
2021 Coaches Choice
This book is divided into four sections: Techniques, Tactics, Interviews, and Final Points. It answers all of the questions you might have and then some that you didn’t know you had. The author doesn’t pretend to have all the answers although he might. He also relies on interviews with other experts on almost all subjects along with examples and illustrations using current male and female players.
Co-Presidents Elizabeth and Lois have decided to co-review this book to provide a “balanced” view of it.
L: I have to say that Paul Fein had my attention with the subtitle. I am always looking for techniques and tactics to compensate for my strokes and fitness and unleash whatever latent “talent” there is. Then there is the Dedication: “For everyone who loves to play tennis, watch tennis, talk tennis, coach tennis, learn tennis, promote tennis, dream about tennis, write about tennis, and read about tennis.” That (I am happy to say) is I.
E: The sheer size of this book let me know right away that I was not meant to read it from beginning to end like a novel. It feels more like a reference book where I can go to rethink my drop shot or service motion. The combination of bullet point reminders, player examples, and notable quotes in each section make this book an interesting read.
L: My favorite chapter in this book is Chapter 20: Six Keys to Smarter Shot Selection. The first part talks about knowing your own game, and knowing my own game as I do, shot selection is a weakness. Suggestions in this chapter are provided to help you evaluate your game within the match, evaluate your opponent, take into consideration the playing conditions and last, but best, pick the right shot for percentage tennis in challenging situations.
E: I really liked Chapter 21: The Art of Anticipation. The chapter starts with the concept that “Knowledge is Power,” reminding us that the better we know our opponent, the more advantage we have. It reminded me that in playing age-level tournaments, I often play an opponent that I have not played before so I need to build my knowledge during the match. Saving new information for the next time I play someone is a skill I need to develop. I also like the use of the word “Art” since one definition is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination…” and I think that well describes the play of many great athletes.
L: Besides providing a lot of interesting examples, drills, and pointers for your purchase dollar, another thing I like about this oversized book is that it has wide margins on each page to take notes. I have to admit that I read it from cover to cover quickly and am now motivated to reread and make personal and match notes in the margins.
E: What makes this book stand out to me is the variety of information it contains. Whether I want to think about ways to improve my tennis or I simply want to bask in the wise words of players from over the past 80 years, there is a section for me. I think Mr. Fein has done a terrific job of amassing the wisdom of the tennis ages into this book.
L: In summary, I would say that I wish I would have read the piece by Judy Dixon (NWTO member) on the best tactics in senior women’s tennis before I had to play her recently. (This qualifies as a total rationalization as it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.) Judy was one of several top players interviewed in the chapter on The Secrets of Successful Senior Players. I also can’t resist saying that this is a very Fein book. (I actually think it is a great book.)
Tennis Club Business — September newsletter
THE FEIN POINTS OF TENNIS
The subtitle of Paul Fein's great book is "Technique and Tactics to Unleash Your Talent." Agawam, Massachusetts-based long-time tennis writer Fein is also a USPTA Elite professional who won 40 writing awards in his career. He states that his book "treats you to fascinating facts and stats, humorous and revealing quotes, and memorable anecdotes."
As a self-proclaimed tennis historian, it's those anecdotes that piqued my interest. Yes, he writes about the "modern forehand," the "strike zone," balance, and the geometry of tennis. And he provides an in-depth analysis of several underemphasized topics, such as the half volley, playing in the wind, touch shots, anticipating, lobbing, and wrong-footing.
Fein analyzes the teachings from tennis greats Rick Macci, Patrick Mouratoglou, Nick Bollettieri, Toni Nadal, and many more and shares their wisdom with us. And when you're almost though reading his 511-page book, you get to the "All-Time Great Quotes." I lapped them up and memorized some. Like Bill Tilden from his 1925 book Match Play and the Spin of the Ball: "It is by twist and placement, rather than speed, that you can force your opponent on the defensive at the opening of the point. Speed alone is easy to handle. Richards, Johnston, and Williams, if they can put their racquet on the ball at all, and they usually can, all handle my cannon-ball flat serve more easily than either of my spin deliveries.”
Profound. I love those quotes and anecdotes. Paul Fein’s book is a gem in the big pile of tennis books that are published each year.
National Senior Men's Tennis Association website
THE FEIN POINTS OF TENNIS: Technique and Tactics to Unleash Your Talent by Paul Fein, NSMTA Member
Reviewed by Jimmy Parker
Reviewed by Jimmy Parker
If you really want to improve your game, or just enjoy a good tennis read, this is the book for you! This tome weighs in at 511 pages and is the size of a workbook. As expected from a writer of Paul Fein’s gravitas, it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. The author, winner of more than 40 writing awards, is not just your dilettante journalist, observing the game from the sidelines. He himself is a top senior tournament competitor and a USPTA Elite Pro. His multiple vantage points give him a unique ability to challenge teaching myths and ask the right questions of his knowledgeable sources.