Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Book Club: Considering DFW
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Book Club: Considering DFW 09/28/2009 - 6:12 PM

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The Book Club flies solo this week. That’s because charter member Kamakshi Tandon is kind of busy with something called law school. Nevertheless, this seemed like the right time to take stock of the small but influential collected tennis works of author and essayist David Foster Wallace, who died a year ago this month.

My reactions to David Foster Wallace and his writing come in conflicting forms. First there’s the man himself. After hearing about his suicide last September, I wrote that I was stunned to learn about his psychological problems, which had been going on for decades. I’d read most if not all of his essays over the previous 15 years, and I didn’t have a clue that anything serious was wrong with him. In fact, his first collection, A Supposedly Funny Thing I’ll Never Do Again, had helped me through a two-week bout with pneumonia in 1997, and his second, Consider the Lobster, was one of the secret highlights of a weeklong trip to Rome 10 years later. You can’t really go to that city, come back, and tell people that one of your favorite things about it was the book you read. But it was.

I was stunned all over again this past spring when the sad story of Wallace’s struggle with depression was laid out in the New Yorker. I felt some kinship with him. Like me, he had been a junior tennis player as a kid and had attended a small East Coast college, in his case Amherst. But there was obviously a lot of distance between us. My few failed forays into his 1,100 page novel Infinite Jest were enough to make me realize that Wallace’s mind went in all kind of directions that mine didn’t. I can remember reading his story in Esquire about tennis journeyman Michael Joyce in 1996 and thinking, That’s what tennis writing should be all about. It was an inspiration.

Then I became a tennis writer myself. You might have thought that, as someone who had read his stuff for years, I would have rejoiced at the sight of a cover story by Wallace in the New York Times sports magazine about Roger Federer. But when it appeared one Sunday in 2006, I didn’t rejoice; I groaned. For good reason: When I went to play squash that same afternoon, my opponent’s first words—I could hear them coming before they left his mouth—were, “Did you read the article by David Foster Wallace on Federer in the Times?”

“No, not yet," I answered in a dull monotone, "but I saw it.”

“It’s amazing, the best sports article I’ve read in a long time.”

We were warming up as he said this. He hit the ball softly toward me off the front wall. I slammed it back into the wall just a little harder than normal, thinking as I did so, “Really, the best sports article you’ve read in a long time. Better than anything I’ve ever written, even though I write about tennis for a ------ living?” Who was David Foster Wallace to parachute in and show me how to do my job? Why did it take the imprimatur of the New York Times to make people to consider a piece of writing worth talking about? Of course, I also knew the Federer piece was going to be top-notch and highly entertaining, which it was, even if I’ve come to see it as problematic (more on that later this week).

Now I'm crushed that there won't be more pieces from Wallace on the sport—tennis will be lesser without him, and how many writers can you say that about? He was not only a gifted and inspiring stylist, but he had the advantage of seeing the professional sport with an unjaded outsider’s eye, and the rec sport with an enthusiastic insider’s eye. As it is, we have the entire Wallace tennis oeuvre before us. Aside from sections of Infinite Jest, it consists, as far as I know, of five articles, four of which you can read on the web:

Tennis, Trigonometry, and Tornadoes, from Harper’s in 1991

The String Theory, a profile of Michael Joyce, from Esquire in 1996 (I can’t get to some of the footnotes, which is a real problem since, like all DFW articles, they contain a lot of the article's most memorable observations, including one that I quote below)

Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open, from Tennis Magazine in 1996

Roger Federer as Religious Experience, from the NY Times in 2006

And from 1995, “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” a scathing review of her autobiography that I couldn’t find on the Internet, but which is collected in Consider the Lobster.

I’ve re-read Trig and the Joyce piece so far, and I’ll talk about those in the next post. I’m trying to place Wallace in the tennis-writing pantheon: What did he bring to the sport that no other writer has? Were there flaws in his seemingly flawless technique? If there were, they were overwhelmed by the scintillating freedom of his prose, which, except for Trig, was never as dense and difficult as his fiction. Even more important, though, was his conviction that tennis mattered, which may have been his ultimate contribution. Wallace articulated what so much of us know and love about the sport but could never dream of putting into sentences like his. Here’s an example to get us started:

Wallace describes Michael Joyce’s own love for tennis, which he was forced to play by his father:

The marvelous part is the way Joyce’s face looks when he talks about what tennis means to him. He loves it; you can see this in his face when he talks about it. . . . When he speaks of tennis and his career his eyes get round and pupils dilate and the look in them is one of love. The love is not the love one feels for a job or a lover or any loci of intensity that most of us choose to say we love. It’s the sort of love you see in the eyes of really old people who’ve been happily married for an incredibly long time, or in religious people who've devoted their lives to religious stuff: it’s the sort of love whose measure is what it has cost, what one’s given up for it. Whether there’s “choice” involved is, at a certain point, of no interest . . . since it’s the very surrender of choice and self that informs the love in the first place.”

There we have the best description I’ve read of a pro’s relationship to the game: "It’s the sort of love whose measure is what it has cost, what one’s given up for it."

Not bad for a footnote to a magazine article.

More DFW tomorrow.


 
30
Comments
 

Posted by Sher 09/28/2009 at 07:54 PM

It's interesting that you write "Now I'm crushed that there won't be more pieces from Wallace on the sport" while you felt differently about it earlier.

I wonder if the same feelings will apply to the way you look now at the camraderie in men's tennis today: you don't like it now, but you'll be looking back on the years with nostalgia. Because we always take for granted what's here and now, and grass always looks greener on the other side. I bet you'd be writing the opposite kind of an article if this was a McEnroe vs Connors era.

Sorry to go a little bit off track..I had just read your other "Viewpoint" article before I read this, and the change you had seen in your feelings about DFW seem to me to be applicable there as well.

Posted by Porto 09/28/2009 at 08:00 PM


Federer as Religious Experience
Come, let us bow down and worship.

Writers conceive of the world
in hyperboles, extremes and exaggeration.

Next to the writers are their mindless readers
cult-followers and potential cultists

Posted by Porto 09/28/2009 at 08:00 PM


Federer as Religious Experience
Come, let us bow down and worship.

Writers conceive of the world
in hyperboles, extremes and exaggeration.

Next to the writers are their mindless readers
cult-followers and potential cultists

Posted by Anjali 09/28/2009 at 09:06 PM

Steve--I participated in a faculty seminar with DFW and he was as lyrically abstruse in his presentation as he is in his writing. I prefer his shorter pieces myself and the ones you've hinted at are indeed quite stunning--my personal fave is the Tracy Austin piece. *Infinite Jest* has been sitting on my shelf for months. I manage to read about 20 pages a week and then have to leave it aside to remember its pleasures. I think it's best to focus on his literary efforts than attribute too much to his biographical details---so much is still unknown about his life and that is as it should be. We remember him for his words and will never have much sense of his personal agon.

On a related note, Federer was asked in a recent interview about his encounter with DFW and he said it was one of the "strangest" interviews he'd ever had, but was impressed by DFW's artistic merits. La voila.

Posted by Ade 09/28/2009 at 10:21 PM

Steve,

Thank you for reminding us of a great, genius writer
David Foster Wallace, who really wrote with his soul. It may have been his tormented soul that enabled him to find such deep words for his inspiring and expressive style. He was a great writer and I have loved the piece on Federer for years. I have a hard copy and it will saved in my computer documents forever.
Please support your local or the national NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)!

Posted by ml 09/28/2009 at 10:42 PM

Steve, thanks for this. Must say I always found DFW an extremely compelling writer on sports because it seems he always approached his writing from the viewpoint of one attempting to question/explain the vagaries of the sport and the motivations of the players.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's this approach that makes the once in a while piece from a writer like him stop everyone in their tracks, but there's no way that he could have possibly brought that level of observation to continual reporting of any nature. So I don't think there's grounds for you to have felt bad, your writing is and continues to be great.

Also I can't recommend getting through infinite jest highly enough. There's loads of tennis related material there, including a lot of musings on the motivation/work required and it's meanings. Also, it's pretty hilarious. I would imagine you'd love it

Posted by David 09/29/2009 at 12:34 AM

DFW was a very good writer, to say the least, maybe even too good, if that's a fair charge (it isn't). I don't think it's hyperbolic to say he had the same kind of preternatural gift for writing as a Joyce or Faulkner, and like those two literary giants, he could often leave a lot of readers behind in his attempt to live up to his talent. Infinite Jest rests idly on my nightstand, underneath yesterday's unfinished crossword, the dusty tip of a bookmark peeking up from page ninety or so. It will remain unread until something rekindles that initial curiosity I had when I purchased it a few months back-- perhaps Steve's exploration will be the push I need.

In regards to his tennis writing, I think the NY Times piece will be an important historical document of what it was like to watch Roger Federer, the greatest player of all time, in the prime of his career. Although I think it suffers slightly from its depiction of Nadal, who in 2006 was more of an unknown quantity, warily regarded then where he is universally adored now, as a sort of secondary villain to Fed's greatness. Looking forward to the discussion

Posted by roGER 09/29/2009 at 04:04 AM

Damn I'm at work and don't have the time (or maybe the courage/stupidity!?!) to write a 1000 words right now on DFW. Suffice to say he produced the best tennis articles I've ever read (sorry Pete, sorry Steve, sorry Joel, sorry John).

The piece on Federer perfectly articulates my feelings about Roger, particularly the 'Matrix' Fed of that brief golden age 2004-2007 - talk about 'a handful of summers!'

I believe there at least two and possibly three versions of the Joyce piece, also two or three versions of "Tennis Trig and Tornadoes" which is sometimes titled something like "Tennis in Tornado Alley" and is actually about growing up in the Mid West as much as it is about tennis.

My favourite DFW footnote? It comes from the Joyce essay and it's on the subject of Jimmy Connors:

"I don't know whether you know this, but Connors had one of the most eccentric games in the history of tennis - he was an aggressive 'power' player who rarely came to the net, had the serve of an ectomorphic girl, and hit everything totally spinless and flat (which is inadvisable on ground strokes because the abscence of spin makes the ball so hard to control). His game was all the more strange because the racket he generated all his firepower from the baseline with was a Wilson T2000, a weird steel thing that's one of the shittiest tennis rackets ever made and is regarded by most serious players as useful only for home defence or prying large rocks out of your backyard or something. Connors was addicted to this racket and kept using it long after Wilson stopped even making it, and he forfeited millions in potential endorsement money by doing so. Connors was also eccentric (and kind of repulsive) in lots of other ways, too, none of which are germane to this article."

Hah hah! I've a feeling DFW and Joel Drucker wouldn't hit it off!

Damn so much to write but I don't want to lose my job. Looking forward to reading the comments here.

Posted by Gianluca 09/29/2009 at 04:33 AM

Thank you for this stuff. It allows me to go through DFW once more. He was, sometimes, the perfect thing... for example when he wrote of Federer. I just started to be a tennis writer and I am trying to be a writer since many years... and he is the benchmark. "Incarnations of burned children" always brings me to tears. And the footnote on Agassi in the String Theory is just wonderful. There are so many little things that made him the best "player on the tour". Looking forward to "More DFW tomorrow"

Posted by loreley 09/29/2009 at 08:12 AM

Thank you.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/29/2009 at 08:30 AM

From reading Wallace's piece on Michael Joyce, I'm wondering what it is he so despised about "Andrew" (sic) Agassi.

His style seems perfectly suited to blogging.

Posted by susan 09/29/2009 at 09:38 AM

So glad you mentioned DFW. the first time i read one of his pieces i felt such affinity that it was almost visceral. It was one of his nonfiction pieces (not on tennis). Love his humour as well.

Was planning to join the cyber Infinite Jest group this summer but wimped out. However, I am now re-re-encouraged to do so after reading some of the posters' comments. And reading more nonfiction.

re: the other article (are we forbidden to comment? there was no comment section)

ah, the two golden eras. i remember watching connors and mcenroe. entertaining indeed. but i like this era too. I don't prefer one over the other.

I don't think people watch tennis to see either a friendly or ugly scene at the net. The personal dynamic is definitely fascinating to watch, but the denouement isn't the handshake, it's the final point. (the handshake is the footnote to the match? since we're talking about dfw). there's so much good stuff in footnotes.

The thing with Novak during the Federer match--this seemed to be an aberration that had more to do with Nole's personality and state of mind than with Federer imo.

Posted by susan 09/29/2009 at 09:38 AM

So glad you mentioned DFW. the first time i read one of his pieces i felt such affinity that it was almost visceral. It was one of his nonfiction pieces (not on tennis). Love his humour as well.

Was planning to join the cyber Infinite Jest group this summer but wimped out. However, I am now re-re-encouraged to do so after reading some of the posters' comments. And reading more nonfiction.

re: the other article (are we forbidden to comment? there was no comment section)

ah, the two golden eras. i remember watching connors and mcenroe. entertaining indeed. but i like this era too. I don't prefer one over the other.

I don't think people watch tennis to see either a friendly or ugly scene at the net. The personal dynamic is definitely fascinating to watch, but the denouement isn't the handshake, it's the final point. (the handshake is the footnote to the match? since we're talking about dfw). there's so much good stuff in footnotes.

The thing with Novak during the Federer match--this seemed to be an aberration that had more to do with Nole's personality and state of mind than with Federer imo.

Posted by ACS 09/29/2009 at 10:19 AM

Like virtaully everyone else here, I have enjoyed DFW most as an essayist and journalist. He seemed to have a unique quality for being able to distill the essence of an event that seems familiar (i.e. attended a tennis tournament, going to a lobster festival, state fair or going on a cruise) and present it in a way that made you realize your experience had more layers to it than an onion. He simply observed better than I am capable and his writing therefore seemed to give depth to own personal experiences. Perhaps one of DFW's true gifts was his ability to tap into and articulate (often in a humorous manner) things that the rest of us mainly feel subconsciously. No one seemed able to describe the ambient conditions of a tennis tournament quite like DFW.

Anyhow, I find the Joyce piece to be far more enjoyable than the Federer article. In the Joyce piece, DFW understands and admits that he is aggrandizing Joyce in virtually every sense. He describes Joyce's ability to stike the ball in excrutiating detail and then wonders aloud about Joyce's movie preferences, sexual experiences and social skills but does not give any indication he actually asked Joyce about any of this. For some reason I found this fascinating, if lacking in journalistic integrity. I can't help but think after reading this article that DFW comes off like the journalistic version of the character of Jackie from the film Waking Ned Devine--a man whose way with words gives you so much pleasure that you are willing to overlook the likely embellishments of the narrative.

Conversely, while the Federer article is perceptive and informative, I find myself not as interested by his descriptions of Federer or Wimbeldon as I am of Joyce and the Candian Masters. I understand this is because most aspects of Federer's game and life are hugely familiar with anyone who follows tennis even casually while Joyce, as a fringe tour player, was a relatively blank canvas on which DFW could freely experiment with his depiction as he went along. The same can be said of Wimbeldon vs. the Montreal venue. The Federer piece therefore feels more like hero worship, like teh conclusions were preordained and that DFW was looking for instances to back them up. Perhaps that is why the most touching aspect of the Federer piece is his desciption of the young boy and his family that are there for the coin flip to start the match. It was touching, new and brought a level of humanity to the proceedings and participants that could not be otherwise duplicated. That was DFW at his best.

Posted by Corey 09/29/2009 at 11:13 AM

Steve, I've got to say that your essay on the state of today's men's game is just awful. Watching badly behaved professionals may make for good copy or television, but it's terrible for society. As a parent, I realize that kids are nothing more little immitation machines. So here's a institution that's miraculously behaving correctly, and you as a journalist have to take the time to criticize it. Not cool.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/29/2009 at 11:44 AM

While I don't mean to "defend" the position Tignor takes in his state of the game article, I think we could see it in another light.

What I took away was a sense from Steve that while he admire's today's well-behaved gentlemen, he also longs for a bit more of the combativeness that was emblematic of the Connors-Borg-McEnroe-Lendl era. Somehow, those outward demonstrations of animosity infused the sport--at least for Tignor, it seems--with something approaching gravitas. These battles of will and skill MEANT something to the combatants, or so it would appear by the way they acted toward one another.

Seen another way, it could be that that was just an attempt to turn pro tennis into pro wrastlin'... a sideshow for the masses. It must have worked, because it was a catalyst for the so-called tennis boom.

Personally, I prefer today's ethos, in part because I don't ordinarily need to flip the channel when my son is watching. Now, when Serena Williams plays, I simply turn off the TV.

Posted by Eugene 09/29/2009 at 12:23 PM

Steve, I guess we already have one "combatant" in nowadays tennis.
Yes, the wedging one with nasty glares... I guess, that's more than enough, and majority is OK to keep it this way.

BTW, Credits to Nadal, he tried to keep his right hand away from his butt last match vs DelPo. Apparently , him to wants to join the club.

So let's leave your "competitiveness" for women tennis. It might need it for a change. Throw a few leather items of your taste into their outfits and put them insede wire cage. You may like it, , who knows.

Oh, don't forget the spikes on their racquets. May come up handy ...

Posted by Eugene 09/29/2009 at 12:34 PM

>>>Seen another way, it could be that that was just an attempt
>>>to turn pro tennis into pro wrastlin'... a sideshow for the >>>masses. It must have worked, because it was a catalyst for the >>>so-called tennis boom.

I guess we can give a little boost to opera, too. Why not dress female opera singers in Britney Spears outfit and make them hold their crotches Madonna style. This would work for "masses" well

Gee ... there are so many things to "tignorize" !!! What a thrill !

Posted by Sher 09/29/2009 at 12:43 PM

[Personally, I prefer today's ethos, in part because I don't ordinarily need to flip the channel when my son is watching. Now, when Serena Williams plays, I simply turn off the TV.]

lol Slice. I too prefer today's ethos, as you call it, simply because I never have a doubt that these battles mean a lot to the people playing, whether or not they are able to pull out a smile and a handshake at the net.

Also I do not mean to take away from DFW discussion. He was a wonderful writer.

Posted by Ross 09/29/2009 at 01:03 PM

I read (and saved)the Fed article when it was originally published. Last week a friend on another tennis blog led me to the other 3. I found Trig unreadable, Democracy worthwhile, and String Theory, magnificent. If you're a tennis fan, or just enjoy fine writing, PLEASE READ String Theory. At a minimum, it will make your day.

Posted by Euphemism 09/29/2009 at 02:40 PM

The Tracy Austin review is my favorite DFW tennis piece. The way he breaks down the championship mentality - the simplicity of it, in contrast to the twisting complexity of DFW's own thought processes - rang true. In light of this essay, I was always curious what DFW thought of players like Safin and Ivanisevic - guys whose internal monologues were probably closer to DFW's than to Borg's, but who still managed to win (some) major titles anyway.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 09/29/2009 at 02:54 PM

I do believe the Joyce article is a bit better than the Federer article.

I also have a hard time believing that DFW could have been compulsive enough to be a top Midwestern junior but never have seen pro tennis or pro player live prior to writing the Joyce article.

It made for good dramatic license, though.

Also, it does, in a way, illustrate one problem that tennis will always have. With the popular team sports, the fan base is full of people who have played the game, plus, since the sports are team sports, there is an increased chance of a run in with greatness. For example, far more casual fans have either been on, or been connected to your average NFL star (his high school team, their opponents, his college team, their opponents, and both sets of high school and college fans) than are connected to a professional tennis player before they make it big.

Because of this phenomenon, you can actually have a DFW article about "how, gee, these guys in the qualies are actually good players."

There are no articles in Sports Illustrated allowing as how "its interesting, the University of Nebraska football team is pretty good." Its assumed.

Although, DFW could not actually hang with either Joyce or any of the guys Joyce beat in the qualies. I think he probably knew that too.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/29/2009 at 03:18 PM

Dunlop, I agree with you that bit is unlikely that DFW was a "near great" player when he was a teenager, as he would surely have followed the tour much more closely and been to a pro event of some sort, even an exhibition or Challenge-type event.

Also, his own description of his game (in the "trig" piece), suggests that he was little more than a "heady" steady Eddie, which, as we all know, can be quite effective during those years when boys' skeletons are growing beyond their musculature's ability to keep pace.

Also, I think that the thesis of "The String Theory"--if there was one--was precisely that he had been delusoional all along, as are most casual fans/observers, in thinking that he might actually be able to trade shots with some of these lesser-known players.

I've always found it extraordinary how you can watch a couple of journeymen pros ranked somewhere in the 100s or 200s, and they can trade huge groundstrokes for minutes on end without missing. Then, as soon as they are in a real match situation, net their first three forehands. It is dumbfounding to me.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/29/2009 at 03:38 PM

The senior amateur game is rife with players (myself included, I confess) who are a bit on the "heady" side, who rely more on thinking and solving the problem that bis their opponent, or the wind, or the sun, than they do on merely making well-struck shots. The reasons for this are many, but one of the main reasons IMO is that most senior ams work for a living, and have families and kids, and simply cannot practice more than 4 to 6 hours a week. It is only those who can practice their art for hours each day, performing thousands upon thousands of repetitions, who are able to play the ball and the court and simply make their shots and play their own game as their "grand strategy"--going on auto-pilot mode and turning off their brains, which might otherwise interfere with the complicated, unconscious communication between eye and muscles that occurs in a match played at the highest level.

It is also why, I believe, so many pros lapse into error after error. They either have lapsed into thinking, or were not ever abloe to get into the thoughtless, unconscious mode that serves them so well in practice and training. To suddenly be in a match-up or in conditions that demand thinking can throw a real wrench in the machinery.

Posted by OldGuyTennis 09/29/2009 at 05:27 PM

Please don't get too upset by the "best sports article I've read in a long time" type comments. Isn't it a bit like the unfairness of hitting the most unbelievable shot ever, but in the semis instead of the finals, and then not being able to buy a break point in the finals? Thanks to you and Wertheim for repeatedly shedding light on a beautiful sport, and particularly for pointing out how it matters, not just in slam finals among celebs, but in the juniors, and in late summer afternoons in the shadows of the apartments beside your club. It matters to those of us who unaccountably view ourselves as Federer or Nadal when we actually are more like those Vic Braden lookalikes which (how could you do this to us?) are in your most recent Tennis mag (in no man's land nonetheless, with shorts pulled up to our chests). Like someone else said, Infinite Jest ran a couple hundred pages too long, but there is an awful beauty in those pages nonetheless. Thanks for the reflections. Thanks for reminding us of the Wallace gifts, sort of Federeresque, and how we should appreciate them while they were here, and ditto for Bodo, Wertheim and, while I'm at it, Updike for that matter. Now, back to work.

Posted by Corrie 09/29/2009 at 05:32 PM

Interesting comments on DFW. I've only read a lttle of his work and found it rather very impressive but tending to somewhat overblown and over written. He's not so well known outside America, I'd never heard of him until the Fed piece came along and I'd like to read more.

Sorry to be off topic too, but I want to strongly disagree with Steve's premise that the Connors/ Macenroe era was exciting. I found them so boorish and tedious in their gamesmanship that I stopped watching tennis.

Jon Wertheim has thoroughly explored in his book, Strokes of Genius, Federer's "soft power" and how his friendliness to all, seeing opponents as colleagues rather than rivals, playing the ball, not the man, has disarmed the opposition through their affection for him.

I think this theory is hooey and quite the opposite. Everyone gets up to beat him and are thrilled when they do. Even Nadal said winning Wimbledon was more great because of who was over the net. They play hard but are friendly and civil at the net and off court. That's how sport ought to be. That's the example children should be given.

It's also great that Fed is friendly to the lowlier players as well, in contrast to the aloofness of previous #1s.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 09/29/2009 at 06:11 PM

I have an opinion on the difference between how great tour level players or near tour level players or Div I college players look in practice vs. how they look in a match.

Is the difference between being (a) rushed vs. not rushed by the shots hit by the guy on the other side and (b) what you are trying to accomplish with your own shots.

Its the beauty of tennis, really. Its very artful to trade 80 mph groundstrokes back and forth down the center of the court, down the lowest part of the net. I can still do it. And that's not bragging, go to the practice courts at Indian Wells and you can see many 40-something coaches out there hitting nicely.

But throw in a little bit of movement, plus the pressure of having to do something with the ball, and it all changes. It takes an incredibly calibrated eye to tell the difference, simply by observing, between a couple of top 100 college players rallying vs. some lower level tour players. Sure, you could see the difference in a top 20 or so ATP player, but below that there are a couple of thousand players who are really close.

My point was not really, just to be clear, that DFW was not a top ranked sectional junior player, just that its odd for such a player to have an epiphany about ATP tour qualie level tennis. I think he set it up for dramatic effect.

For many juniors, the epiphany occurs about 18 or 19, when you first see the true "men's open game" -- and realize how limiting much of junior tennis in fact is.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/29/2009 at 07:13 PM

Well said, Dunlop. I would contend, however, that the difference in error rate has more to do with throwing intention into the mix, versus simply hitting autonomically.

Once a player begins the thought process required to devise a set of tactics and shot combinations, the player is no longer simply reacting from the years of training and conditioning.

Posted by Dave M. 10/01/2009 at 09:09 AM

The footnotes for the Joyce article aren't printable, but appear as pop-ups when you roll the cursor over the footnote number.

Posted by Ira 10/16/2009 at 01:33 PM

I had problems getting to the footnotes in The String Theory as well, but if you right-click on the page and View Source, you can locate them pretty easily in the HTML.

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