There’s a locally produced book on tennis with Aquinas High School roots. Falcons’ coach Scott Smith is the author.

It’s called “Thriving in the Tennis Business: Simple Steps to Succeed in the Sport.”

Smith’s a United States Professional Tennis Association member -- District 5 Pro of the Year, 2013 -- who’s coming up on a half-century of experience, both Colorado and California, in the sport.

He’s not only got the gig at Aquinas -- girls in the fall, boys in the spring -- but he’s the teaching pro at the nearby Arrowhead Country Club, plus some roots in the mountains near Crestline.

Hundreds of players have won countless awards under Smith.

One on the more alluring aspects of Smith’s book is that he’s got an Aquinas student -- Mario Zambrano -- as the illustrator of the cover, among other aspects of “Thriving.” Smith says Zambrano, a senior at Aquinas while spending time on the Falcons’ playing roster, is applying to art school.

Amazon Prime, at $12.95, is the one way you can get this book.

We hold in high esteem local authors -- especially those with expertise.

Onto some other possible holiday reads.

It’s easy to bookmark “Curveball,” the recently published book by ex-big leaguer Barry Zito -- especially since he did a book signing at Redlands’ Barnes & Noble a couple months back.

Former Cy Young Award winner.

Pitched in numerous big games for both Oakland and San Francisco.

Signed at the bottom of a record-setting 7-year, $200 million-plus deal that he never really lived up to.

The more I read about his childhood -- not to mention an interesting family history -- its curious reading.

Truth is, I’ve read better sports book in 2019. Since it’s my custom to recommend good reads for readership -- some of whom might be in pursuit of last-minute Christmas gifts -- I’ll throw a few out there.

“Curveball” isn’t on my list.

Since it’s the NFL’s well-documented 100th year, it might be easy to spotlight some of the books:

* Jerry Rice has one out, “America’s Game: The NFL at 100.”

* “NFL 100”: From its tiny beginnings in Canton until … I guess, now.

* “The NFL 100: The Greatest Moments of the NFL’s Century.”

If you’re an NFL fan of any length of time, you could probably come up with your own top 100 list. I invite you to do that so you can avoid those books.

Here’s my recommendation:

“Ron Wolf and the Green Bay Packers” might be the best current NFL book on the market. The quarter-century decline of The Pack, the ex-Raiders’ executive who moved on to Titletown, and turned fortunes around.

He brought Brett Favre, Reggie White, Mike Holmgren and others to Green Bay. This might well be the best read for open-minded football fans.

Open-minded, that is, includes fans of the Rams, Cowboys, 49ers, Patriots, etc.

Incidentally, I’ve already recommended “The League” -- the five original NFL owners that started it all -- during the Father’s Day book reads.

As for the non-football reads:

Dozens are out -- new one on Mickey Mantle, plus college basketball’s Joe B. Hall, and “The National Team” (women’s soccer’s rise to this year’s World Cup, already recommended in June), “The Last Pass,” Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, also recommended -- that’ll bring out fascinating insights.

“Belichick” is a must, of course.

“The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino.” The FBI’s onto these guys in college basketball. It’s a read that’ll wise you up to the ways of big-time college hoops and, perhaps, make you more appreciate the far-less appreciated Cal State San Bernardino and University of Redlands programs.

My readership, of course, dictates publications on So Cal connections -- Lakers, UCLA, Rams, USC, Dodgers & Angels, Clippers, plus hockey -- but there really hasn’t been anything published in 2019. Let me know if I’m wrong about that.

Imagine the books on the Dodgers if they’d managed to win a World Series in the past couple of seasons.

Imagine the book possibilities on the Clippers or Lakers -- whichever team wins this year’s NBA championship.

Here’s one possible book title: “The Rise and Fall of the Rams,” after losing miserably the 2019 Super Bowl, then failing to reach the playoffs one year later.

Best read for 2019: I took a chance on “Behind Closed Doors: Life, Laughs and Football.” Football, in this case, meaning soccer.

Authors Gary Lineker (former English captain, 1986 Mr. Golden Boot) and Danny Baker took aim on a solid piece of work on the sports, which reigns overseas. As an American watching soccer make its place solidly on U.S. soil, this could be an interesting glimpse into a new-world sport.

Translation: You might laugh your head off and learn something about soccer.

Merry Christmas!

(Got a sports tip? Want to chat about sports? Email at

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