Tennis Prose



Interview with Peter Figura, Co-Author of ‘The Future Of Tennis’

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By Scoop Malinowski

At this year’s Miami Open I discovered a new tennis book was published, THE FUTURE OF TENNIS: A Photographic Celebration Of The Men’s Tour. It contains a series of profiles about the second tier elite players like Fabio Fognini, Alez Zvever, Jack Sock, Tommy Haas Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, Bernard Tomic, etc., it was created by Peter Figura and Philip Slayton.

The profiles of the players are well-written and contain quotes from their careers, many of which are insightful and interesting.  Like Fabio Fognini admitted he cried after unleashing an unspeakable verbal attack on a female chair umpire at the 2017 US Open, which he was suspended for one major and fined $48,000.

Rod Laver said of Nick Kyrgios: “Nick has got more talent than anybody on the Tour. But sometimes his attitude does  damage to his life as a player.”

Peter Lundgren, former coach of Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov said of the talented Bulgarian at 2009 US Open, “He’s better than Federer was at his age.”

The book is well done and any serious tennis fan would enjoy the text and excellent action photography.

You can order the book here 

Here is an interview I did with co-author/photographer Peter Figura of Canada, who created the book with Philip Slayton, who did most of the text.


Question: What inspired you to do this new book THE FUTURE OF TENNIS?

Peter Figura: Tennis is in a very interesting and exciting spot right now. For years the game has been and to a degree still is, dominated by four players – Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray. So we thought that it would be interesting to write about many others who are on top of the game, like for example, Stan Wawrinka, who won three Grand Slam tournaments,  but is much less in the spotlight. We were trying to find something unique about each and every one, and then mach the photos with the story. We just thought that it would be a great loss if those amazing players went unnoticed.

Q: How long did you and your co-author Philip Slayton work on this book?

PF: It took us about a year from signing a contract with our publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, to delivering the manuscript.

Q: Why did you choose to put Gael Monfils on the cover and did you get his reaction to seeing the book?

PF: Gael is one of the most exciting players to watch. If he is healthy he can beat anyone, and he produced some of the most entertaining tennis to watch. He also fights no matter who he plays or at which stage of the tournament the game is. This photo was taken at an earlier round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, but looking at Gael you could also assume he is playing in the fifth set of the US Open final. I don’t think he has seen the cover yet, but hopefully this year at Roland Garros we will have a chance to show him the book.

Q: An artist always savors and appreciates positive feedback about their work, what have been some of the best positive feedback you have received for this book?

PF: Well, definitely the endorsement from Peter Bodo was. Few photographers and tennis writers have told us they’ve enjoyed the book and really like the concept, and of course we would not be talking right now if you didn’t think the book was an interesting one.

Q: In your career as a tennis photographer, what has been your greatest moment?

PF: My first Roland Garros final between Rafa Nadal and one of my favourite players – David Ferrer, and also photographing Roger Federer while my good friend and a great Croatian journalist was interviewing him in Halle. In the words “ It was a spiritual experience being around Roger.”

Q: Most painful moment?

PF: Physically – trying to survive the match between John Isner and Paul Henri Matthieu without falling asleep. It wasn’t as long as the legendary match between Isner and Mahut, but I believe it still is the third or second longest match ever played at the Roland Garros.

Q: Favorite players as subjects to shoot?

PF: Definitely Monfils, Federer, and Nadal….but I like to shoot all the players and try to find something unique about their game, personality or both.

Q: Do you have a funny career memory from the tennis court?

PF: A couple of years ago I was sitting at the Court Philipp Chatrier waiting for the Roland Garros final, and sitting next to me was the great American Tennis photographer, Art Seitz. I was trying to start a small conversation and said something like “I cannot believe it is already my eighth Roland Garros,” and Art, without a blink, said “I know what you mean….number 48 for me!” – Two years later we celebrated Art’s 50th Roland Garros!

Q: An embarrassing moment in your photographer career at a tennis tournament?

PF: My first Roland Garros! I didn’t realize that I applied for the wrong credential (I write about tennis too, and by mistake applied for the writer credentials). After a long trip from Toronto I went straight to the courts, got my pass, and when I finally figured out how to get to the photographers pit under Court Suzanne Lenglen, I was told by security that the pass that I just got will not take me anywhere…..But the media office in Paris was terrific, so I was able to exchange the pass and not miss my first Roland Garros as a photographer.

Q: Any future projects you are working on or would like to pursue?

PF: The game is so interesting now, that it would be great to “update” the book for some new names like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe, or Daniil Medvedev, just to name a few….and I think a book about the WTA Tour would be a great project too.





  • Douglas Day · May 5, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Ok, hyberbole warning but Cristan Garin is most talented newbie since Thiem. Defends like Murray and rises to pressure like a Rafa. Chee-chee-chee, eye-el-ee, We love Chile!!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 5, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Doug, yes Garin is blossoming. Mass told me at us open Garin has everything and his breakout was inevitable. Boy waa he right on the money.

  • catherine · May 6, 2019 at 2:01 am

    A book about the WTA tour would no doubt be interesting but I’d make a very large bet that it would turn out an impossible project.

    For nostalgic reasons probably I still think Gene Scott’s book was the best photo one – in capturing the era and the people.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Catherine, wouldn’t that be great to see a new photo book in the same Gene Scott model, but then again, photos of tennis are so accessible through social media that the demand to see tennis photos may be a lot less than it was in the 70s when the media was less able to deliver tennis images to the public unlike today where everyone is a photographer with their phone and everyone is capable of taking high quality tennis photos.

  • catherine · May 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I agree Scoop and also I think eras are not defined in the same way anymore. The 80s, 90s and so on just melt into each other. The 70s followed the 60s as a time of real change and I think Gene’s book caught that particular moment in tennis very well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Catherine, those Gene Scott photos by Mel Di Giacomo I believe, captured an era. There was limited viewing of good tennis photos, limited outlets. Now there are tons of outlets and social media exposure. New innovations are always welcome. Gene Scott sure had a special style and way of presenting tennis.



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