Picks and Pans Review: The Winning Edge—private Lessons with the Pros

updated 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl

No, this tape does not teach anyone to make mounds of money for throwing tantrums, acting silly and picking on elderly linespeople who can't fight back. Even more to the point, it doesn't teach anyone much about tennis either. Written and directed by San Francisco pro John Yandell, the hour-long tape is essentially an exhibition of McEnroe's and Lendl's athletic supremacy. In five sections, they demonstrate basic shots of the game but do very little teaching. After explaining in a perfunctory manner the elements of serving, for instance, the players proceed to whack ace after ace with automaton-like precision. There is no further attempt to discuss the techniques, since there is little voice-over; there is instead rock 'n' roll music, including songs by the Police, the Motels, Blondie and the Pretenders. McEnroe and Lendl agree that practicing is so boring they can only manage to do it if accompanied by music. Meanwhile, Yandell's script is monumentally mundane: "By hitting crosscourt you create the opening to hit winners down the line; by hitting down the line ground strokes, you open up the crosscourt." While McEnroe reads his lines more or less clearly, and manages an inflection or two, Lendl's Czech accent can be distracting, such as when he discusses the finer points of the "wolley." Gaudy graphics and camera angles abound, but these are not so much teaching devices as they are ways of accentuating the almost inhuman proficiency McEnroe and Lendl have for hitting tennis balls. Instead of being inspired to race out to the nearest court after watching this tape, most average hackers are going to be tempted to put a foot through their racquets. (Vestron, $29.95)


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