the back cover?
Ah yes, its time for another
season of tennis
They have been together for years,
the girls, on the same team, lolling through the seasonssuch
a pleasant way to socialize and at the same time get some exercise.
The perfect excuse for lunch and a glass of wine afterward. But
this season, there seems to be a slight fly in the ointment.
There is a new member on the team who, ridiculous as it may seem,
wants desperately to win
at any cost. And damn, the team
has made the colossal mistake of electing her captain. Halfway
through the season, the girls can see that they might have to
take matters into their own hands. They might even have to take
the law into their own hands.
How does the
author describe her novel?
Certainly a novel about tennis
is a departure for me. I have often wondered why I was drawn
to the sport as an adult. I didnt play as a childnot
from a lack of effort on my fathers part. He loved the
game. For me, its not the skill. I certainly was never
a star, and quite frankly Im not thrilled about sitting
for hours watching the stars play. (Born in the South, its
a sin to get a thrill out of watching anything other than football.)
So why, then?
I think because of the socializing
aspect. Over the years, tennis has afforded me lifelong friendships.
You cant beat sharing with your doubles partner and your
teammixed doubles, womens, seniors, whateverthe
fun of an afternoon in the sun.
Also, because its wonderful
exercisenot too much, not too little, appealing to my innate
laziness. You can play doubles for a couple of hours and then
be about other things. And of course age is not a prohibiting
factor. You can play at some level almost forever.
As a sport, its remarkably
adaptable. In my volunteer hours with the USTA, I have started
tennis programs for children in the inner city, for an elementary
school in a small town, and in a womens prison facility
in Alabama. Ive helped organized league play for adults
all over the Southeast.
More than anything, for me its
such a wonderful place to people watch. The characters in The
Team all come to realize that the way they play the game is a
reflection of how they live their lives. Are all games that way?
Yes, to some extent, but after all is said and done, tennis,
as one of my children said many years ago, Its just
a good ol game.
How do others
describe this book?
Sherman (USTA League National Promotions Manager) on Amazon:
Having read Pat Devoto's first
four books, I knew I would enjoy the story....I knew I would
LOVE the content! As a lifetime passionate tennis player, coach,
administrator, volunteer, and fan, I have believed that tennis
is a gift (and it comes in many packages!) It is also a study
in human nature and Pat captures this perfectly with each team
member and her assorted quirks, personal issues and judgements
of "right and wrong". LOTS of humor and yet Pat delivers
the message that tennis doesn't build character but instead reveals
it! I have had the pleasure of knowing thousands of tennis players
on hundreds of teams and every one of them will say that league
tennis brought them weekly joy, sense of accomplishment, FUN,
an occasional dose of humility, friends for life, a family of
choice, and the best social network ever invented! GET this book
for your whole team as a holiday gift!
My favorite passage from the
book is: Cici stepped forward. "The whole season rides on
this match." Kate stood up. "Forget it Cici. The only
way we're going to win this match now is if the patron saint
of tennis drops down out of the sky with her magic wand and vaporizes
Sets In The City." And guess what, somehow it happens...but
it ain't very saintly. It is very funny!! If you have ever been
in a women's group, (it reminded me of my running group) you
will love this novel.
What did I
get out of reading this book?
What the back cover doesn't mention
is one of the most important facts about this novel: It's about
tennis in Atlanta! Atlanta? Yes, the "Tennis Capitol of
the World" as I have been calling the area for many years.
In my estimation there are more league tennis players in the
Greater Atlanta area than in Northern and Southern California
combined! Adult league tennis in Georgia, the largest District
in the USTA Southern Section, is big and it's legendary. After
all, here is where it all started with pilot programs in Macon
and Rome - and it was Pat Devoto who started it for the USTA
Pat says about recreational tennis,
"the secret is a good doubles partner." And that statement
is at the core of her novel The Team. Female league players in
Atlanta are famous for their dedication to the game, their friendships
formed through tennis, and their social activities before and
after those league matches. And don't forget their outfits!
Pat's book is all about those
Atlanta tennis ladies and their way of life. Yes, there is a
crime story interweaved and yes, the life stories of each player
on the team are interesting and enjoyable to read, but the way
the team captain approaches the season and her team players'
reactions are so very much Southern/Georgia/Atlanta style.
I had to chuckle several times
reading about those Southern ways. This joke, which player Kate
whispers to M.J. at a funeral has been around forever, says it
all: "How do you recognize an Atlanta woman at a funeral?
She's the one wearing the black tennis dress." In this town,
where "...it's not how far you live but how close you are
to an expressway," even the language is strange to me, a
Southern Californian by way of Germany and Pennsylvania. Example:
"It was a rather large Tudor in Dunwoody, an upmarket part
of Greater Atlanta, peopled with newcomers - as most of Atlanta
seemed, at times, to be peopled with newcomers."
Player Mary Julia (M.J.'s daughter),
a newcomer, had her own, unique view of the team. Pat writes,
"And the team - the sameness of playing year in and year
out every spring and fall - now it had turned into this singular
experience, out in the sunlight, walking up to the courts and
seeing them all standing there waiting for her, like comfort
food. That was what the team was like, comfort food."
I thoroughly enjoyed reading
Pat's novel about "The strength, humor, and unmitigating
gall of women in groups." I realize, if you're not a tennis
player this book may not be for you. But, hey, there are over
25 million tennis players in this country, with 15 million ready
to start the game any day now. This book may just be the ideal
Christmas gift for many of them!
ABOUT PAT CUNNINGHAM
Pat was born in Florence, Alabama,
where members of her family have lived since 1820. She graduated
from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Secondary Education.
The mother of two sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren
lives in Atlanta and Alabama.
Pat writes about some of her more memorable experiences as a
result of writing:
- Having my second novel selected
as the book of the year for, Alamance County Reads, in North
Carolina -"What a great group of volunteers, and talk about
a well organized event. No stone was left
- Being a featured author in Southern
Living -"YIKES, people keep that magazine FOREVER, and so,
years after it appeared, people e-mail me, 'I was sitting in
my doctors office today and happened to pick up
- Being a Books-a-Million Presidents
pick for my second novel - "I was blown away by the displays
in the BAM stores - cute promo buttons on all the clerks."
- Being a featured Alabama Author
for Cullman City Schools, in North Alabama - "A wonderful
promotion of readingbeautifully done by that school system.
They even had billboards, no less!."
- And having my first novel, that
I morphed into a play, win a reading at Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Great fun, all of it."
PAT CUNNINGHAM DEVOTO'S
CONTRIBUTIONS TO USTA ADULT LEAGUE TENNIS ARE LEGENDARY!
Annice Seelig, USTA League pioneer
in the Pacific Northwest and nationally, wrote in the 2005 book
"USA League Tennis - A Celebration of 25 Years" about
And when asked what she enjoyed
the most about the leagues success, Devoto responded, "The
enthusiasm of the players who loved participating and being able
to come to a national tournament." She feels privileged
to have been able to watch the league grow into the largest league
program in the world.
USTA Executive Director and CEO
Gordon Smith about Pat Devoto
The USTA honored Pat Devoto with the
2016 USTA League Volunteer Award. Devoto was recognized at the
USTA Semi-Annual Meeting, Sept. 3-6 in New York City.
The award, established in 2015,
recognizes and honors the many volunteers who have provided leadership
and made significant contributions to the growth and enhancement
of USTA Leagues, both in their section and nationally.
Devoto has been a part of the
USTA since 1978, helping get the cities of Macon, Ga., Rome,
Ga., Birmingham, Ala., and Greenville, S.C., off and running
with its USTA League programs. She was an integral member of
the USTA League Committee from the beginning, serving many years
while also serving as the League Coordinator for USTA Southern.
She single-handedly built USTA Southern League Tennis into the
most popular league tennis program in the country with the highest
Since day one, Pat has
been a visionary and pioneer with the USTA League program, helping
create opportunities for tennis players across the board,
said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA.
Pat is the epitome of what a USTA volunteer represents
and we are appreciative of her dedication. Her passion for the
sport is second to none and we are honored to present her with