I have played doubles with Joe Marshall a few times, and he is a great strategist. He always suggests smart moves and places to stand, and we often win as partners…or my team loses when I oppose him. I am thrilled that he has agreed to share many of his insights here in a number of posts that will be very helpful to anyone who wants to upgrade his or her tennis game…ira

It was always the mental challenge of sports that appealed to me most. Outfoxing one’s opponent is the ultimate pleasure I find in competing. To analyze, to feint, to recognize the pattern, to buy time, to innovate, to predict the opponent’s next move, and finally, to surprise him with the unexpected….these are the joys in competition and watching competition that I appreciate. Even if they are done to me!

Some of my favorite athletes…….Fran Tarkenton, Dick Fosbury, Dan Quisenberry, Bjorn Borg, Fabrice Santoro, Wayne Gretzky, Martina Hingis, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson…..these were people who said to the established theories of the coaches of their times, “I don’t agree. Here is the way to play.” And made it work.

I am now 56 years old. For the last 27 years, I have been a tennis hacker. I play a different kind of game. Derived from ping pong, it’s all about slice, placement, lobs and drop shots…..just the things American coaches told us for all those years that were not that important. I rarely hit with power, but I have won a lot more than I have lost, both in recreational matches and at weekend USTA matches. Because I play a different kind of game, I notice different things. Things that might not get you to be number one in the world, but might help you learn the art of club doubles tennis. I concentrate on doubles these days, because my knees aren’t what they used to be.

Ira has asked me to pen a comment or two on these pages based on my observations and experiences in playing this wonderful game. I can honestly say that I have had more fun playing tennis than doing just about anything else. And I look forward to another couple of decades of it. Maybe like my friend Phil, who at 84, still takes sets from people half his age.

I have also met the most delightful people playing tennis…..Folks whose paths would probably have never crossed mine except for for a shared love of the game. They are intelligent people, people who like to compete, but learn to be gracious if they lose. People who enjoy learning the lessons of consistency, humility, perseverance, patience, and teamwork that tennis teaches

They are all winners in the game of life.

Stay tuned!