The last few years have seen a huge rise in tennis popularity in the United States due to the docuseries on Netflix, Break Point, which featured a host of young American and international tennis stars alike. Young American players like Coco Gauff and Ben Shelton also made enormous strides at the 2023 U.S. Open — which Gauff won — and were featured on the recently-dropped second season of the docuseries as the next, next generation, here to disrupt the 20-somethings who’ve already been on the circuit for years. Their impact is already being felt, with stars like Zendaya — who just announced that her new tennis-centric movie, Challengers, will hit theaters in April — jumping aboard the tennis wave.
Whatever your interest in tennis, if you are a serious player who follows the international tours, a part-time watcher who tunes in for the Grand Slam celebrity sightings, or a literary lover who just wants to read a good story about the lives of great characters, here are five of the best tennis novels for you.
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Written by the author of The Devil Wears Prada, The Singles Game tells the story of Charlie Silver, a young woman and tennis prodigy who makes a “deal with the devil,” her coach Todd Feltner. When she is thrown into the world of celebrities, private yacht parties, and high fashion, she finds herself lost in glamor and luxury, fighting for a way back to the courts.
This book hits close to home for fans of Break Point, who get to witness through the docuseries the ridiculously extravagant lives of the top tennis stars. However, as one Amazon reviewer says, “you don’t have to know anything about tennis to enjoy this story.”
Apples Never Fall Liane Moriarty
Written by the author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, this mystery follows the Delaney family, a group of former junior tennis stars and their even more famous parents, as they attempt to uncover the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. Apples Never Fall is ripe with sibling rivalries and marital woes fit for a Shakespearean comedy…or tragedy.
Moriarty did an amazing job researching for this book, citing Rafael Nadal’s memoir Rafa as a huge inspiration for the intensity of the Delaney family and their affinity for the sport of tennis. However, it doesn’t take a tennis lover to appreciate this well-crafted plot and entirely unique cast of characters.
Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt
In his book, Trophy Son, Douglas Brunt has woven a tennis story that is not for the lighthearted reader or romance seeker hoping to immerse themselves in the glamorous world of modern tennis stars. Instead, this book follows the extremely competitive and relentless life of American child prodigy Anton Stratis. Following his life all the way from childhood to the international stage, Brunt weaves the story of a young man given no path in life but tennis by his extremely competitive father. As he grows up, isolated and motivated only to succeed, Anton faces demons that nearly destroy his career and his life.
Brunt does an admirable job of presenting this story in a nearly documentary-like fashion, detailing the demands required to succeed as a professional player that far exceed the average tennis novel. Most importantly, he explores the detriments of being raised in a world where parental pressure far outweighs love for any game.
Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This novel, which will soon be getting its own film adaptation, is one that you have probably already heard about. If you somehow haven’t read it yet, right now is the perfect time! Set in the 90s, legendary tennis star Carrie Soto comes out of retirement to try to win back her grand slam title record, which has just been stolen by her old rival.
Carrie is a solitary, highly competitive protagonist who is sometimes hard to cheer for, considering her complete disinterest in finding true friendship in other women and her propensity for making light of romantic relationships. However, throughout her mission to get back her old record, it may surprise you to constantly be on her side. The plot itself is enough to intrigue any tennis lover or book lover alike, but the relationship between Carrie and her coach/father, Javier Soto, is what steals the limelight, tugging at the reader’s already anxiety-ridden heartstrings.
Break Point by Garry Michael
This novel by Garry Michael is a tennis romance unmatched by any other. Tennis “golden boy” Travis Montgomery has reached new heights, winning the U.S. Open and reaching dreams that he has long awaited. But his heart isn’t with the trophy, because it is thousands of miles away with Dr. Ashton Kennedy. Ash is working with every atom of his being to forget Travis and the pain he caused six years before, but when Travis shows back up in his life, he is impossible to ignore.
Garry Michael evokes an enormous sense of anticipation in the way he weaves this story, incorporating real-life societal expectations of athletes with world-defying romance. It’s a book you won’t want to put down!
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