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Sampling of new nonfiction; Is pro-tennis corrupt?; Short Circuit, by Michael Mewshaw. New York: Atheneum. 306 pp. $13.95.

By Ann Hill PunnettA monthly column. Ann Hill Punnett is a free-lance writer living in the Chicago area. / August 12, 1983



As a top-ranked professional tennis star, you make big bucks - at least five figures. Crowds cheer you. Groupies clamor for your autograph. You have your own agent and PR man. And too often, according to author Michael Mewshaw, money from both over and under the net corrupts your game.

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Mewshaw followed the tournament circuit from Genoa to Wimbledon to learn more about the world of tennis. He interviewed players and officials. Both groups lob a charge that can't be missed: High-priced entertainment, not athletics, is the tennis champ's principal business.

The facts, as Mewshaw outlines them, are tawdry. Promoters indulge in such questionable practices as giving financial guarantees to top players to ensure their presence at tournaments. Players admit to splitting prize money and to ''tanking'' exhibition matches (losing on purpose).

The author professes shock at his findings. It remains for the fair-minded reader to review the charges and judge for himself.

But cheer up. There is still hope for the game, Mewshaw says. ''Professional tennis could be completely changed in a matter of weeks if it had the courage and decency to enforce the rules it has already written for itself.''