‘Rolling’ Along: Rockin’ tennis coach and Bay City Rollers frontman to sign book at Aug. 25 event
By Pat Sherman
If life were a tennis game, it could be said that San Diegan Eric Sage is approaching his match point.
As a “tennis teacher to the stars,” Sage has helped everyone from George Clooney to Alec Baldwin and Robert Downey Jr. perfect their games.
While teaching tennis to Hollywood’s elite during the 1990s, he also pursued acting roles (he played the guitar store salesman in “Wayne’s World” who prohibited customers from playing the tired “Stairway to Heaven” riff). Meanwhile, Sage was busy taking piano and voice lessons at night.
Twelve years of music study paid off. Sage would go on to tour with Vince Neil of Motley Crue and write and record with rock band, Velvet Revolver.
He currently serves as lead singer of the Bay City Rollers starring Ian Mitchell (one of two incarnations of the tartan-clad, Scottish pop band that penned the No. 1, 1975 hit “Saturday Night”). He also fronts the Bon Jovi tribute band “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and performs with other musicians regularly at La Jolla hotpots such as Beaumont’s Eatery and Amaya.
In between his busy schedule, Sage penned a book about a system of tennis instruction he developed while simultaneously teaching celebrities and studying music that is based on chord progressions.
Sage (born Eric Crabb in Toronto) will sign copies of his book, “The Magic Key to Tennis,” and talk about his career as an instructor and rock performer at noon, Sunday, Aug. 25 at Warwick’s bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave.
Sage said his method is particularly useful in helping people learn how to master topspin, in which a player puts a spin on a ball to make it bounce or travel far, high or quick, usually by hitting it with a sharp, forward and upward stroke.
“Topspin is truly the key to what the pros are doing,” said Sage, 42. “I’m always amazed that it’s not discussed more and people don’t quite understand it.”
Sage said his numbered system of instruction is “as easy as communicating chord progressions in music.”
“When people do it, they’re freaking out. They’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just need to hit three feet over the net and it goes in the perfect spot every time.”
When not on the courts, Sage can be found making female audiences “freak out” as an ersatz Bon Jovi (a well-paying gig he grew into after an agent saw him performing Bon Jovi songs at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas), or touring with Mitchell in his version of the Bay City Rollers.
“It’s so fun and interesting to watch all these people singing every lyric of these songs and wearing the tartan clothes,” Sage said. “Not only are there 50-year-old women throwing panties, but their 20-year-old daughters are there. I throw on leather pants and do my thing. That’s part of the fun, I think, is that they get to relive that part of their lives.”
Sage’s own trip down memory lane includes moving to San Diego at age 17, where he studied tennis at San Diego State University on a full ride scholarship.
Though he achieved a professional ranking, he was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident in Hawaii, derailing his professional career.
Naturally, Sage said, his book includes inspirational passages about overcoming challenges and obstacles through his life’s journey. “The book talks about reaching your goals and how, if you have a dream, you can reach it with hard work and discipline,” Sage said.
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