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Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony…
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Playing the Moldovans at Tennis (2000)

by Tony Hawks

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Before I read this I had heard of Moldova but only through football. I think it gives a decent insight into life in post soviet Moldova, although a follow up would be good just to see how much life has changed ten years on.Also liked that he stayed with a local family as this gives a better insight into daily life and shows just how much we in the west take for granted. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
Londoner Tony Hawks takes up a bet with his friend Arthur that he can defeat all 11 players of the Moldovan football team who had just completed a match in England at tennis. It's been awhile since Tony has played, and no one really knows if any of the football players is good at tennis. Hawks sets off to begin his quest and meets a number of obstacles along the way. The language, of course, is a barrier, but the players are quite spread out as far as their regular clubs are concerned. Some of their managers are not cooperative. In the end, Tony travels not only to Moldova but to Beirut and Israel in his quest to win the bet. I won't give away the outcome of the matches, but the book provides a nice change of pace from most travelogues and contains some quite humorous incidents along the way. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 23, 2012 |
It started out as a bar bet. Tony Hawks, and his buddy, Arthur, were watching a football/soccer match between England and Moldova. Somehow, by the end of the game, Hawks had bet that he could beat all 11 of the Moldovan football players at tennis.

The rest of the book is the story of Hawks' quest to win the bet. He had lots of obstacles to overcome, starting with getting a visa to visit Moldova. Since Moldova issues visas only to people who have been invited by a citizen, Hawks had to find a citizen to extend an invitation to him. He would cross one hurdle only to find another one in his path. He spent most of his time in Moldova trying to make contact with team officials and/or the players themselves. At the time of his visit, Moldova had been an independent nation for only half a dozen years, and there were deficiencies in its infrastructure. No task, even a phone call, was simple. The Moldovan acquaintances he accumulated during his visit were pessimistic that he would succeed in his quest, yet they went to great lengths to help him.

This would have been a dull book if it had been nothing more than a description of 11 tennis matches. However, much of the book is filled with Hawks' experiences with his translator and his host family. He spent most of his time in Moldova with at least one of these five people, and it's through their conversations and shared experiences that he (and we) glimpse what life is like for the average Moldovan. Hawks' skills as a comedian are well suited for observing a different culture. Hawks finds humor in situations, but not at the expense of others.

I don't have any more desire to visit Moldova after reading this book than I did before I read it, but I do have an appreciation for the Moldovan people, and I hope that their economic condition has improved in the decade since Hawks' visit. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jun 30, 2011 |
Comedian Tony Hawks does it again as another bet lands him in Moldova, this time prepared to beat all eleven soccer players from the national team at tennis. Set against a little seen background of post-Soviet Moldova, Hawks wanders the grim streets in search of his footballers while avoiding open manholes. Hawks trivial trip is laid out in linear fashion as he goes from Moldova, to Russia, and Israel in order to play his list of footballers. The tennis matches start counting down and Tony's knowledge of Eastern Europe grows as he edges toward the final conclusion of his travels--where someone will end up stark-naked singing the Moldovan national anthem! Fraught with language barriers, frustrating post-Cold War bureaucracy, and deception, this might be Tony Hawks most elaborate bet yet. Hawks style of writing is a blend of bloke-ish humor and understated awareness of his cultural surroundings. Features bonus pictures from his travels. A slightly irreverent option to the more traditional, staid travelogue. An engaging option for high school or public libraries. ( )
  MontglaneChess | Nov 24, 2008 |
In a bet, Tony Hawks has to beat every single member of the Moldovan national football team in a game of tennis. In his quest to find and challenge the players he visits Moldova, Northern Ireland, and Israel. Like Round Ireland With A Fridge (although not quite as good) Hawks witty observations and ability to get himself into the most absurd situations makes this a laugh out loud book. ( )
  Othemts | Nov 19, 2008 |
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To Grigore, Dina, Adrian and Elena
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I'd always played a fair amount of tennis.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0091874564, Paperback)

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:02 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

It started with a bet: that Tony Hawks couldn't beat all eleven members of the Moldovan football team at tennis, the loser to strip naked on Balham High Road and sing the Moldovan national anthem. Tony's adventures include travel to Northern Ireland, Israel, and Moldova, being taken in by Moldovan gypsies, and a narrowly-avoided kidnap attempt.… (more)

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