book excerpt: Slammin’ by Marcus Paul Cootsona

Every and now and then a good sports book drops on your desk and it is one of those that you just can’t put down. Slammin’ is one of those. When we were contacted to see if we by any chance would want to feature this story on TSF we didn’t expect this book to be so much fun.  Enjoy the long excerpt and if you want to buy the book then you can buy it on Amazon (Kindle version also available)

About the author

Marcus Paul Cootsona is a tennis professional, lapsed playwright and the author of Occam’s Racquet – 12 Simple Steps to Smarter Tennis. Three times ‘Tennis Specialty Retailer of the Year’, a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff, and a contributor to Inside Tennis magazine, tennis is his life. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two sublime, ridiculous dogs. He is not a former Navy SEAL.Slammin' book cover

Synopsis

Fifty-three year-old tennis pro and family man, Wally Wilson is happily teaching Silicon Valley’s millionaires and billionaires at the double-wide estate of his temptress and benefactor, 17 year-old Ashley Margincall.

But when Wally’s serve speed spikes and unidentified government agents appear, he begins a pro tennis odyssey that might lead him to the U.S. Open or the twisted nexus of a Grand Slam conspiracy. Strangely blessed, but always behind the power curve, Wally realizes he’s been given all the power, but none of the control.

Editorial Reviews

“Marcus hits a clean winner with Slammin’
Jon Wertheim, Executive Editor, Sports Illustrated

“Slammin’ has the sort of wacky charm that keeps a reader following Wally’s excellent adventure as the plot, like the pro circuit, curves around like a snake eating its own tail.”
Michael Mewshaw, Inside Tennis

The Excerpt

National security beckoning, the Suburbans took the seven blocks from the Yacht Club to Wally’s Cloud Avenue house like the Stig. But despite their pace, they finished second. When they arrived, Wally’s GT 500 was already there and parked. And the neighbors, who would all be by with questions later, were taking pictures and texting Channel 7.

Four agents in suits had commandeered the four corners of Wally’s five thousand square-foot lot. Two more identical agents stood guard at the front door.

And the racquet was still in Wally’s hand.

Deuce took the news about his mom stoically, helped his dad free the racquet, then brought all the agents what he would like to drink – Red Bulls, Rockstars and Monsters. He and Wally now stood in the living room with Flint and Steel, watching a kidnapper productions DVD on their 52-inch TV. Deuce thought this was the most interesting thing that had ever happened in Menlo Park and was proud that his family had a TV worthy of federal agents and their badass attention. And happy that they liked the drinks. Wally, on the other hand, was struggling to make sense of everything that was happening and Addie wouldn’t come out of her room. Two identical agents stood vigilantly in the entry, sipping the cold beverages, admiring Wally’s handmade furniture and the various family photographs of Danielle, especially the ones of her in a swimsuit or running shorts.

On the TV, a friendly, educated German-accented voice started in over a wide shot of the wind-furled Swiss flag.

“We can no longer be neutral,” it said.

Suddenly, the screen image flag burst into flames, smoldered menacingly and faded incongruously into footage of Danielle, Donald and the bankers toasting each other with champagne flutes on a yacht in Lake Geneva. While Danielle talked business with the Swiss, her boss stared at her, tongue protruding.

“We have taken the American couple, Danielle Wilson and Donald Grosser.”

“American couple?” thought Wally.

“Who’s Donald Grosser?” asked Deuce.

“Mom’s boss,” said Wally.

“That guy with the tongue?” shuddered Deuce.

Wally nodded.

The Swiss voice went on, “We have also detained some of our countrymen so that we may now set in motion an overdue chain of necessary events.”

The dinner cruise image dissolved to a slick, promotional video of a luxurious estate in a Swiss forest, showing tennis courts, stables, a pool, a nine-hole golf course and a formal dining room with Swiss dinner delicacies and some perky, blond models.

The voice continued, “They will remain our guests, free to use all the amenities of this world-class destination and receive expert instruction in sports, cooking and language classes until our demands are met. You see, we are angry but we are not uncivilized.”

Inexplicably, Wally suspected that Donald had something to do with the reason they were snatched, but he could not quite work it out. Yet. He wanted to be Liam Neeson in Taken, but at the moment he felt like Harrison Ford in Frantic. And behind the self-restraint, he knew his son was rattled.

What could he do? Didn’t he have some hidden abilities that could be tapped for a daring, nighttime rescue? He had well-polished interpersonal skills, for instance. Couldn’t they help?
His rambling focus returned to the big screen TV.

Over a shot of downtown Zurich’s banking district, the precise voice was winding up.

“We want two things. One, for the Swiss government to lower the cost of living for average Swiss citizens who have been priced out of their own country. And two, for confirmation of this action to be delivered to us personally by the greatest tennis player of the Open Era, the Swiss maestro and Lindt spokesman, Roger Federer. That’s it. We will be in touch again after his first match on Monday.”
The DVD closed with a short highlight reel of Federer’s victory at the 2009 French Open over Robin Soderling.

“He really played well that year,” said Flint popping the DVD out of the Blu-ray player,

Wally asked, “Swiss pirates?”

“A lot of folks with an agenda these days,” said Flint.

“But Danielle just called me this morning. What happened?”

“As far as we know right now, heavily-armed men boarded the cruise boat and took them. They were well-funded, well-organized but unaffiliated as far as we can tell. The boat was found abandoned this morning. The dinner was uneaten, but quite lavish.”

“Who shot the video?” said Deuce.

“That’s a good question,” said Flint, taking a sip of Monster.

“Thank you,” said Deuce, delighted. “By the way, I thought you guys carried Glocks.”

Flint patted his service weapon. “We’re not FBI.”

“Okay. Then, CIA? NSA?” said Deuce.

“CGA,” said Flint. Off Deuce’s puzzled look, “Classified Government Acronym.”

“OIC,” said Deuce.

“So what can I do?” said Wally.

“Remain calm. Go about your normal life. Answer the phone when they call.”

“That’s it?”

“Aren’t you guys going to look for her?” said Deuce.

“We are following every available lead. We’ll do everything we can to get her back.”

“Awesome,” said Deuce.

“But please understand, it’s very delicate. We can’t just invade an ally.”

“So not everything, everything,” said Deuce.

Flint and his men assembled to leave. “We’re going to leave you now.”

“Great,” said Deuce, deflated.

Wally was worried. “But this is a kidnapping, don’t you need–”

“An elaborate phone set up with agents at your house?’ asked Flint.

“Yeah. Don’t you?” said Wally.

“We’ve already cloned your cell phone. We’ll know when they call.”

“Can you clone my sister’s too?” said Deuce.

Wally glared at him.

“I thought you’d want that,” said Deuce, honestly.

Then, Wally asked Flint, “And in the meantime?”

“To be honest,” said Flint, “Not much. Really, one of two things needs to happen. The kidnappers either decide it isn’t worth the trouble any more or the Swiss government does an unprecedented U-turn and devalues their currency to lower prices.”

“Those are the choices?” said Wally.

“The good ones,” said Flint.

“Can’t I do something?” repeated Wally.

Addie had just emerged from her room. “Dad?”

“Yes, Sweetie?”

“Can I go on a date tonight with the hottest guy in school? He just messaged me and asked me out.”

“Addie, now? Your mom’s been kidnapped.”

on the 1st day of giftmas: tennis lit

2010 has been a pretty good year for the tennis literary community (if you can even call it a “community”). There was an as-always this-is-what-my-tennis-life was (and is!) book in Patrick McEnroe’s Hardcourt Confidential, while Venus Williams put out a best-selling business book called Come To Win. Right, we said business book. We give you a few other selections that might fit well as fit-in-your-suitcase take-home gifts this holiday season.

Hardcourt Confidential might be the only book on this list that I’ve actually completed, and after a bit of skepticism to start, I surely appreciated it. McEnroe write with Tennis‘s Peter Bodo and Bodo’s signature phrases can be found throughout the book. But it’s still McEnroe’s voice that shines through and tells some good stories. The book follows a calendar format (Jan. to Dec.) instead of a biographical one, which grew on me as I progressed. A great read from – what a tennis friend recently told me – “one of the nicest guys in tennis.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $10.40

Come to Win is Venus’s take – along with a host of other “visionaries” – on how to rise above the rest in whatever you choose.”Every single story in this book is very motivating. Sports give you knowledge that you can take with you and apply into other fields,” says Mihaela Hagiu in her review of Come to Win on Bookstove.com. “Many people do not realize the benefits of playing a sport. The lessons that could be learned are too valuable.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $17.15

Doubles Agatha Donkar’s take on the book on the Art & Literature blog: “Taking the reader along for the ride as Slow tries to crawl out from this bottom that he’s hit, Doubles explores tennis, friendship, and love, and the truly strange lengths human beings go to in pursuit of those things — the idea that we’re all just muddling along, and there’s only so much indulgence you can take before you have to do something else.” | Paperback on Amazon.com for $11.41

[Read more…]

short balls: the in-between edition

Ed note: We were planning on getting a podcast up for djy’all’s enjoyment this week, but real life got in the way. Check out TSF early next week for a Roland Garros wrap-up and a look-ahead to The Championships, Wimbledon. -NM

In case you missed it in our last post, there is something called the World Cup going on in South Africa. It’s the biggest athletic event of its kind on the globe, and will be happening for the next month (!) as 32 teams battle it out for the cup. The media has covered this event from every possible angle, and I wanted to share a couple of those with you faithful folk. The first is a bit historical and artsy: the history of the World Cup soccer ball (compiled by the NYT). The second is a bit of the shallow variety, but it’s worth it.

While some people might not be very impressed with Maria Sharapova‘s Birmingham warm-up frocks (and we sort of agree), the Russian lady was out in the community supporting the game of tennis for youth and unveiling a mural put together by local artists. The WTA put together a video of the scene (linked above in the image, too).

One former player who knew how to paint the court with winners, Monica Seles, was featured on the WTA’s web site last week. Can she joing the comeback train, too?! She’s our second pick behind Mary, Our Lady of Roland Garrolupe. Seeing as though there are now two Italians in the WTA’s top ten, it wouldn’t be the craziest of things to happen.

Laura Robson was in a bit of hot water over the weekend for quotes that she provided to Vogue UK for an upcoming article in the British pub. From the looks of her Twitter account, Robson got the memo from her PR team to issue some sort of response (later a full press release was issued) and since then has been a rather silent Sally while winning four matches (three in qualifying) at Birmingham. Talk about adding to the pressure for this year’s Championships.

After the cut: Shorter balls and a look at the second-ever outdoor WNBA game (along with the first!). [Read more…]