The Racket: On Tour with Tennis’s Golden Generation – and the other 99%

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'Well worth a read if you want the inside track on life on the lower rungs of the tennis circuit. Warts and all.' Judy Murray

'As elegant and powerful as a Federer backhand ... It’s Kitchen Confidential for tennis.' Ed Caesar

'A really wonderful read ... Conor Niland has delivered an all-timer for tennis and sports journalism' Ashlee Vance

'Conor Niland may only have managed a career-high ranking of 129 – only? that is some achievement in itself! – but The Racket, his account of how he managed this, is up there with the best half-dozen books on tennis ever written.' Geoff Dyer

‘Genuinely such a brilliant book, a brilliant read’ Ciarán Murphy, Second Captains Podcast

‘One of the best Irish sports books of the last decade’ Kieran Shannon, Irish Examiner

'If it's not a contender for Sports Book of the Year, the world has gone mad.' Fionn Davenport, Off The Ball


When Conor Niland was 16, he got the chance to hit with Serena Williams at Nick Bollettieri's famed tennis academy. Conor, the Irish junior number one, was feeling a bit homesick. Serena, also 16, already owned her own house beside the academy.

Conor Niland knows what it's like when Roger Federer walks into the dressing room ('Ciao, bonjour, hello!'), and he has had the exquisitely terrible experience of facing Novak Djokovic in the world's biggest tennis stadium - while suffering from food poisoning. But he never reached the very top.

The Racket is the story of pro tennis's 99%: the players who roam the globe in hope of climbing the rankings and squeaking into the Grand Slam tournaments. It brings us into a world where a few dozen super-rich players - travelling with coaches and physios - share a stage with lonely touring pros whose earnings barely cover their expenses. Painting a vivid picture of the social dynamics on tour, the economics of the game, and the shadows cast by gambling and doping, The Racket is a witty and revealing underdog's memoir and a unique look inside a fascinating hidden world.


'Blending a passion for his chosen sport with a realistic study of the traumas of the tour, The Racket offers a brilliant insight from Ireland’s greatest ever tennis player.’ John Boyne

'This will rightly join the list of The Best Irish Sports Books Ever Written. A superb insight into professional tennis from the ground up' Paul Howard

'I ate this book up ... reveals the sacrifices, commitment and decidedly unglamorous side of life on the tennis circuit' Sinead Moriarty

‘Unsparing in his depiction of the drudgery of tennis’ Mike Jakeman, The Spectator


'Brilliant book, I inhaled it' Jonathan Drennan, Sydney Morning Herald

'Devoured it in a day ... I've read many tennis autobiographies: this is one of the very best' Charles Arthur, Journalist

'Sure to become a must read of the tennis literature canon' Paul Perry, author and academic

‘Witty and insightful … an homage to the game he clearly still loves’ Anna Carey, Irish Times

‘Honest and droll"’ Laura Slattery, Irish Times

'A brilliant, unvarnished look at a brutal sporting life.' Michael Foley, The Sunday Times

His funny, sometimes painful, memoir, is a brilliant insider's look at the brutally competitive world of tennis as well as a meditation on moments missed by inches.' Sunday Independent

Product Details

£20.00  £19.00
Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date
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