Gail's Latest Book
Gail Kenna hits an ace with her memoir, Tennis Talk of a Nobody. The memoir cleverly interweaves Gail’s lifelong tennis journey with her love of good literature and impactful events in her life. Gail’s voice is authentic, witty, and gritty. Her growth mindset is inspiring. By example, she inspires you to fear not and live your life to the fullest. Get fit and stay fit so you can play tennis or engage in whatever sport or hobby brings you joy. Enjoy movement. Read and discuss fine literature with friends. Travel and take risks, especially to help a friend. Take a swing at life!
Michele Burke Craddock, Virginia attorney
Gail Wilson Kenna’s Tennis Talk of a Nobody is an insightful account of the author’s lifelong passion for tennis. I don’t play tennis and loved this memoir. Gail began playing competitive tennis at ten. Now in her eighties, she remains an active, committed player, who teaches literature and writes books. “Warm-up” begins with Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, followed by three sets of compelling narratives, old photos, and newspaper clippings. Kenna uses the game of tennis to reveal mysteries of chance and circumstance. Like the strings of a tennis racquet, connections and synchronicity have woven her life’s path. Cut the strings and everything changes.
What were the chances Gail would play poker with Arthur Ashe in 1964, a game of chance? That later both Arthur and her father, Robert T. Wilson, would have heart surgeries, receive HIV infected blood, and die from it. What were the chances earlier in 1960, that Gail would fall and break five bones in her left foot at the National Hardcourt championships? Never had she fallen on a tennis court. Billie Jean Moffit was in the stands that day, and Gail’s book includes a letter to the now famous BJ King, who was once a tennis foe. The same day and hour Gail fell, her father was vomiting blood in a strawberry field in Southern California. On the train home from Northern California, a cast on her foot, Gail did not know her father's fate until she reached Los Angeles.
A native of California, life led Gail to Texas, Alabama, Washington D.C., on to Germany, Malaysia, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru, before returning to the United States. Now living in Virginia, Gail remains devoted to tennis, “this trans-figuring experience.”
My favorite narrative was “Tennis Is Why You Exist, Dear Daughters,” in “Set One” of the book’s three. It begins with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher arriving in a black limo at the camp where Gail and rifle instructor Mike met the summer of 1967. Fifty-six years later, they live on a creek in Virginia’s Northern Neck.
At the 2022 Biennial, Gail won nine NLAPW awards for her writing. This college teacher’s entire life is of mysterious connections related to tennis. Most of all, Gail inspires readers to keep taking swings at life.
Gail Wilson Kenna, 2023, $16.00 (Amazon & Crosshill Creek Publications)
ISBN: 978-1-7341602-5-3 Ilona Duncan, National League of American Pen Women Chesapeake Bay Branch