Jun/10

3

How important is Patrick McEnroe’s “Hardcourt Confidential?”

I have been reading the new Patrick McEnroe/Peter Bodo book. I like it though it’s not as “confidential” (that’s in the title, “Hardcourt Confidential”) as I had hoped. I thought about Dan (Redhead) reading it as McEnroe talks about Blake and his stubbornness and unwillingness to change. Some good John McEnroe anecdotes in here like the time the brothers McEnroe played doubles together at the Paris indoors, benefited from a bad call against a French pair, had the crowd booing and jeering and Patrick said he got a glimpse of what it must feel like to be Johnny Mac. Interestingly, John seemed to relish it like he was giving a big middle finger to all the French fans.

Also, a good anecdote about Agassi on that ill-fated Davis Cup team that lost to Ljubicic in 2005 in Carson, CA. He basically says Agassi not only bitched and moaned about the surface all week, but he mercilessly rode Bob Bryan (who was dating an actress and AA after the Brooke Shields debacle was apparently anti-actress) to the point where Bob Bryan really could not play well. He also writes that Sampras was in fact a cheapskate as Agassi infamously claimed in his book and gives a few examples, also revealing how in practice Sampras used to like to play for $500 a set….

17 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · June 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Rich,

    These are your words, submitted by me in proxy. I,in fact, am stunned by a big publisher, Hyperion, the same people who published the Walt Frazier book, putting out a Patrick McEnroe book. I know he’s on ESPN like once every few months when a Grand Slam is played, and I know he’s the Davis Cup coach and the chief of the USTA’s junior development program, and, most importantly (really, let’s be honest), John McEnroe’s brother, but how many people in the U.S. really care what PMac has to say? I would not think much. Even I, a big tennis guy, would never plunk down $25 for this book.

    I sincerely hope that he gives great inside insight on John and growing up in that cauldron of the McEnroe family, what it was like to be Johnny Mac’s younger bro, because what he has to say about Andy Roddick or Blake or the Bryan Brothers, particularly b/c he’s still DCup coach, can’t be too revealing.

    The Agassi anecdote sounds amusing. Bodo always pulls punches so he was probably the best writer to collaborate with on this book. Are there any bombshells or particularly revelatory (and not only in a National Enquirer way) sections in the book?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    You can never underestimate Patrick McEnroe. As a player, he became a champion. As a Davis Cup captain, he won the Cup. As a TV commentator, he became one of the very best in the business. As a director of junior development, we will see, and I expect success. As far as book author, I’m sure this book will be very interesting and enjoyable to read, just as it is to listen to his TV commentary which is always very entertaining, intelligent and at times very funny and witty. Nobody really thought a guy like Vince Spadea could pen a cult classic but he did, with a little help from his friend. Patrick McEnroe’s book can potentially be as good as “Break Point” if not even better.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    You see, Scoop, (first off, when did PMac ever become a champion? Aussie Open, he reached the semis, right?, did he even ever win a tourney on tour?)there is a big difference in Vince Spadea writing a book, and Pat McEnroe writing one. I purposefully chose (and btw, thanks for saying it’s a cult classic) Spadea to write a book because I wanted a character, and a journeyman player, along the lines of Jim Bouton in “Ball Four,” one who had had big, but fleeting success, and for the most part was considered an “outsider” in the game. Spadea is glib while PMac is guarded. Spadea had no ties with the powers that be in the game, in fact, he was and is a pariah of sorts in the game.

    That’s the kind of guy you want to write a book about tennis, not the PMac’s and James Blake’s, who, certainly in the case of Blake, is an image guy. I’m surprised PMac came out with this book b/c I can’t imagine the advance from the publisher was too big. What does he have to gain from writing it, other than he has an ego and wants to come out from under John’s big shadow.

  • srinivas patel · June 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Yes, Patrick McEnroe has a lot of insight for a tennis fan. Maybe not to the layperson but there are millions of tennis fans to equate good sales for his new book. I for one am buying this book.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Dan; Patrick McEnroe won a grand slam doubles title with Jim Grabb I do believe. You are right, Patrick can be a corporate man but if you listen to him sometimes he will say things that surprise. I aways remember, years before Gaudio won Roland Garros, when Patrick implied on the ESPN air that most of the locker room felt Gaudio was “soft.” Just yesterday, when Cahill said he thought Melzer was starting to cramp in the fifth set, Patrick asked, “Where? In his head? Or his legs?” Pretty hilarious.

    Clearly Patrick knows a ton about pro tennis, and about all the top players, and it’s a just matter of how much will he air out in the open. Like Srinivas, I very much respect Patrick, what he says and his tennis judgements and fully expect this book to be a big winner because many tennis fans admire him. I will buy it. I’m sure he knows what he needs to put in this book to sell and for sure the publisher will remind him or prod him to tell more if necessary. No way can this book be a yawner! If it is Red, I’ll buy you lunch in Newport or Delray next year!

  • Dan Markowitz · June 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    You’re on, Scoop. I’ll take Newport, one of those fancy fish restaurants down by the harbor. Oh, so many good places to eat in Newport. I do recall the PMac line about Melzer, that was funny. No, you’re right, PMac can be edgy, but I still think you have to be an awfully big tennis fan to plunk down $ for his book. He wasn’t a player who drew a lot of attention to his game. I know he had the match with Connors in the ’91 Open, and maybe a big match with Becker, but at least Spadea had the whole run-in with Agassi, the controversy with Blake, the mini-fight with Sampras at Indy one year. And, does PMac get a foreign publisher buying this book? Not a chance, I think.

    I would be more interested in seeing Roddick’s tell-all or Safin’s.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 3, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    It’s a solid book. He does get into growing up with John a little bit and there are some funny moments like John watching Patrick practice cross-court drills with Palmer and asking what the hell are you doing that for? John apparently had little use for those kind of drills. he also traces the story of how John got screwed in the US Open qualifying and how that call impact his distrust of linespeople.
    There are hints at revelations that are not followed up on. For instance, talking about the disintegration of John’s marriage to Tatum he writes how Tatum treated his own girlfriend pretty badly and then speculates that Tatum who was so familiar with addiction and alcoholism in her own family mave have seen the signs of alcoholism in McEnroe’s family. It’s a telling remark, but never followed up on. A dangling idea and sentence left hanging.
    There’s an interesting section at the end of the book discussing coaching and the difference between coaches who develop players and coaches who take on elite players and help them become champions. He goes through his own coaches and then discusses people like Lansdorp, Jose Higueras, Bollettieri, etc.
    There are definitely some interesting moments and well worth reading. I am not quite sure it delivers on the “confidential” promise though as some of the stories you might already now and a few don’t name names. For instance he discusses one former American champion who expresses a desire to work with the USTA in a coaching capacity and the figure of $75,000 is put out there to which the un-named champion texts Patrick “add a zero…” (it has been rumored that was Sampras, but not sure).
    So in some of those cases you kind of wish they named names. At times you realize what a true and adept politician Patrick is and how that quality has served him so well with organizations like the USTA that are so obsessed with appearances and being politically correct. Still, I found myself wishing he would unload on some more like he did in quitting the IMUS show live on the air (am I the only person in the NY area who never found IMUS funny and still don’t to this day?)
    Obviously and understandably I think he goes a bit soft on the USTA. I like how he details Higueras’ coaching philosophy I jus twish he would have detailed what exactly is his grand plan for elite player development in the USA, how does he aim to achieve it and what are the obstacles in so doing? HE spends a lot of time telling you what he doesn’t like/respect in coaches and then spends time telling you why coaches like Higueras, Larry Stefanki and TRacy Austin (who McEnroe hired to work with the USTA) are good and valuable. I just wish he would have detailed his own vision more clearly in regards to developing players since he is now arguably the most important figure in player development in the USA (certainly one of the most).
    The Agassi anecdote at Davis Cup is interesting in that for years Patrick publicly took the rap for that loss to Ljubic-led Croatia in saying he didn’t play test the surface in Carson. In the book, he assigns more blame to AA for bitching and moaning from the first day of practice, for riding Bob Bryan and for generally showing a lack of leadership and professionalism in that tie. you also wonder if he takes the gloves off more now on Blake knowing that Blake’s Davis Cup career is likely over. Basically, he suggests Blake was way too tactically rigid, was reluctant to even experiment with a basic thing like changing string tension and says the reason Barker survived as long as he did is he basically told Blake exactly what he wanted to hear. If even most of tht is true it is remarkable Blake rose as high as he did (and remember I am someone who always liked Blake).

  • Dan Markowitz · June 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    You see, this is the place where a book like PMac’s could be very interesting, in the personal/family side of the McEnroe clan as seen by the youngest, and possibly, most sane family member. But it seems that he by and large bypasses that.

    You’re a big tennis guy, Rich, so you’re interested in coaching development and philosophies, most of the time that kind of stuff is really boring. I mean who cares if you tell someone to hit from an open or closed stance?

    I think you’re right, PMac and JMac probably don’t like Sampras b/c he’s conservative, West Coast and not very giving of himself. And with Blake, definitely the fact he’s not on Davis Cup team anymore probably allowed Mac to go off on him more than Roddick. In my observation, Roddick is more of a hard-ass guy than Blake, but I do think he’s probably not as hard on his teammates as AA or Sampras as JMac were.

    It sounds like PMac opened up some and I wonder if Bodo will take shit from Sampras for PMac calling him cheap and selfish.

  • Tennisfan · June 4, 2010 at 2:44 am

    How important? Not at all!
    PMac apparently finds fault with everyone except himself:-) He’s ridden his brother’s coattails to an extraordinary degree – not espn job without hs brotehr, no DC job without his brother, no lavishly paid UTA development job without his brother. The latter in particular is extraordinary – $600k/year to work parttime at a job for which he has no qualifications (no evidence or experience either coaching or developing juniors or doing any kind of administrative job if it comes to that). Yet he never acknowledges any of that! All his own talent…
    So it’s Agassi’s fault they lost the DC tie – although the Bryan brothers always say how they admire Agassi so that wasn’t their experience apparently. Perhaps Agassi was carping about something true – the surface was rubbish.
    So Blake is rigid – a far better career than PMac’s and a great guy by all accounts. I take that to mean he didn’t do what PMac thought he should.
    I don’t think there’s much news here at all and I don’t think it will sell many books at all…
    I will be interested to see if people are as harsh with him for saying Sampras is cheap as they were with Agassi (although I noticed in a subsequent Bodo column that he too said Pete is tight fisted and has had many cnflicts with people over money so apparently the truth of that is well known).
    I saw on an inside tennis website promo that he complains about the USTA alienating DC layers and uses as his eg the fact that they wouldn’t pay for a cab for the girlfriend of one of the Bryans – then I noticed someone had put in the comments why should the USTA buy cab fares for a girlfriend. Too true.
    I will say about Agassi’s book, for better or worse, the person he trashed the most was himself. Alas no sign of any such self-examination in this book….

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 5, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Come on take it easy on Patrick McEnroe, he’s not a bad guy, he’s been a credit to the sport and deserves the chance to run the USTA development program. If he fails, he fails. Anyone can shred anybody as nobody is perfect we all make mistakes. It’s not easy to follow the footsteps of a big brother and succeed in pro tennis with all the pressure and expectation but Patrick did it, had a very successful career and has become a fantastic TV commentator. IMO he is just as entertaining and intelligent to listen to as his brother, really enjoy listening to Patrick do TV matches always. Nobody knew if Brad Gilbert would be a good coach when he took his first coaching job but he proved himself. Patrick is proving he is a good coach, with his Davis Cup success, managing that team to the Cup in 2007 and we will see how the USTA job goes in the near future. If not Patrick McEnroe, who would you prefer to see in the leadership position tennisfan?

  • Rita · June 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I’m with tennis fan. I’d prefer the head of junior development be someone:
    a) doing the job full time and not part time
    b) someone who isn’t commuting from NY to do it
    c) someone who has some administrative experience
    d) someone who has some successful track record developing juniors
    e) someone who has some successful track record coaching top players – DC is not coaching in a meaningful sense
    f) someone working for less than $600k/year for part time work. Absolutely outrageous pay.
    I laughed outloud at the criticism of the unnamed retired player (what’s the point of not naming names there?) wanting a large sum for doing the juniors when he’s taking almost that much himself.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 5, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Well, there are more obvious choices, Scoop. Guys or gals who had been coaches before they were named the head person. The USTA has really loved Pat McEnroe and he has been a credit to the game.

    I just wonder, Is he the most interesting character in the game today to write a book? Until I read it, I have to await judgment. I guess, I’d rather see a Roddick book, or a Pat Rafter book, what about a Greg Rusedski book, but I guess there aren’t too many publishers who will offer contracts and deals to tennisfolk so I applaud Bodo and Pat McEnroe for making it happen. Oh, yeah, I’d like to see a Marcelo Rios book. When’s that happening?

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Red:
    No, I’m not looking for a comparison/contrast on the virtues of open stance vs. closed stance. What I wanted to know was: you have been assigned the important task of developing the next generation of American champs. Aside from turning to Jose Higueras what is your plan, your mission statement, your philosophy to do that?
    Furthermore, why do you believe your way will work now when the USTA’s past player development efforts have generally not worked? How do you operate to get that position in the political culture that is the USTA? I mean where you like the guy or not he is obviously an adept corporate politician to not only survive but thrive as long as he has there. His Davis Cup tenure is the longest of any captain in US history. HE has outlasted the guy that hired him, Arlen Kantarian, who was once the power on the USTA Pro Side because of the revenue the US Open generated.
    Clearly, in an organization like the USTA where the majority of people who do the grunt work are unpaid volunteers while those at the top make six-figure (in some cases seven-figure look at what Arlen was making his last year) so I would like to know how he’s worked that system to last as long as he has (and it’s not just because his last name is MCEnroe because let’s face, it, they will not work with John).
    Admittedly, I’m a tennis fan so I will read just about any tennis-related book I can get my hands on. Yes, and the prior post about the cab fare comment was intriguing because he added that but failed to mention what he (or the players) are paid for a tie or on an annual basis and if you ask the USTA they won’t tell you either (at least the won’t tell me). And I’m not saying players should not be compensated – they should because they risk injury going out there – but you might be surprised by what they do get paid.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 6, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Your damn tootin’ you’d be surprised. We wrote that in “Break Point.” Vince said that for the 2004 Finals against Spain, Roddick got, and I don’t have book in front of me, but I think he said about $130,000. Fish got close to $100,000 and Spadea, who was supposed to be right there with Fish with a chance to play second singles, got like $10 or $15,000 and he had to fly coach while the other flew first class. So yes, these top Americans are paid very handsomely.

  • jerry · July 3, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Interesting how he has the nerve to slam the William sisters just to get people to buy his book.
    Patrick is nothing but a racist!!!

  • Paul Jones · March 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Has anyone in history ridden the coattails of a famous sibling farther than Patrick McEnroe?

    He was a second-rate talent on tour, a truly ugly game with one of the wackiest two-handers you’ll ever see. He became a successful commentator only because John was expensive and difficult. Patrick saw his opportunity and took it, making himself the kinder, gentler version of John. The problem is, he’s no John, on court or off. His tv commentary is banal, snide at times, and rarely insightful. He has John’s ego without the accomplishments. And he oozes insecurity to the extent that he takes offense whenever Chris Fowler makes a good point and looks for ways to be contrary.

    If you wonder why American junior tennis is in the toilet, look no further than Patrick McEnroe. He can’t motivate people because he wasn’t a champion. He can’t even motivate his brother to play a bigger role in junior development, what does that tell you?

    I thought his exclusion of the Bryan twins during his final Davis Cup tie was very revealing of his character. So petty. So transparent. So arrogant. Patrick, if you want respect, do something to deserve it.

    But you won’t. Because you can’t. On the court and in life you will always be the little brother of John.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I just don’t see it your way Paul. I’ve always really enjoyed listening to Patrick McEnroe as a TV commentator, enjoyed his humor, knowledge of the game, learned a lot of things listening to him, picking up comments and using them for my own game such as I remember he once said a certain player was known for hitting every shot the same exact pace every time, so the value of mixing it up paces spins I applied this to my own game and it has helped. Enjoy his comments and funny sayings like Hello, eyedropper, ARE YOU KIDDING ME! after great shots. He brings a mix of knowledge, enthusiasm, excitement, love for the sport. I have found other people who really enjoy his way of broadcasting and there always are a few like you who don’t like his style. Now as a player, I think any player who makes it to the top 100 in the world is an amazing athlete. Go and watch a Div 2 college team and see how good those guys are. Go to any local open tournament and see how good they are. There are so many very talented players in the world, for Patrick McEnroe to make top 50 in the world and win a major, SF of a slam, no, that’s not a very great career compared to Sampras or Federer or Nadal, but still it’s a tremendous achievement. True knowledgeable fair minded tennis fans should have the utmost respect for any player in the top 1000 and all the players who try to compete in Challengers, Futures and Satellites. It takes so much to survive and make it to the ATP or WTA. Paul I think you are being unfairly harsh with your criticism. Also, regarding the state of US tennis, Jack Sock just won the junior US Open and we have some talented players coming up like Sloane Stephens, Andrea Collarini, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Christina McHale. Harry Hopman was not a champion himself, as far as I know, yet he had a major influence on developing many champions. Right now, in the two one on one international sports of tennis and boxing, and to an extent track and field, the US is struggling to produce world champions like we used to. It’s a fact. I think it’s more of a cultural issue than to pin all the blame on our American coaches like Patrick McEnroe, Emanuel Steward and Freddie Roach in boxing. By the way, Hardcourt Confidential was a fantastic read.

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