Challenger Tour

The sheer drudgery of professional tennis

Wimbledon’s starched whites, manicured flower beds and hushed silence enable tennis to present itself as a genteel sport. But Wimbledon only represents tennis in the way that an Olympic 100m final represents athletics. It is the best players in the best setting for a brief period. Actual tennis, the day-to-day life of a regular player on the circuit, is very different. It is relentless, stingy and unsentimental. The most surprising thing about The Racket, Conor Niland’s bruising account of his career as a good (but not great) tennis player, is that he emerges with both his sanity and his compassion intact. Tennis is not an easy game to break into.