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The Tennis Court

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781648293351

Price: £30

ON SALE: 12th September 2024

Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure

Every one of the world’s half a million tennis courts is, at its most basic, an identical blank canvas: a 78-foot by 36-foot rectangle, divided by a 3-foot-high net in its centre, and marked with eleven straight lines. But add in the elements of surface, space, wind, acoustics, crowds, shadows, humidity, and even air density, and every tennis court is unique-a work of art. And some are masterpieces.

Nick Pachelli curates and profiles 200 of the world’s most beautiful, iconic, significant, alluring, and idiosyncratic tennis courts from across the globe, each breathtakingly photographed. He explores the heavyweights, including Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis Club, which employs a hawk to keep stray birds from soiling the meticulous lawns. Arthur Ashe, the Grandstand, and Court 17 in Flushing, Queens, where hundreds of thousands of tennis fans gather every summer for the US Open. And there’s Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland-Garros, whose clay seems to take on a different shade-burnt orange, burnt red, burgundy, umber-every time you see it.

We visit far-flung treasures, such as Waiheke Tennis Club in New Zealand, where you’ll need to take a plane, then a ferry, then a car or bus, and then walk before arriving there. Indoor marvels, including the Tennis Club de Belgique, which evokes the hushed, reverent feeling of a theater, with skylights illuminating the court and leaving the spectators in the shadows. Hidden jewels, such as the tiny Tennis Club San Stin in Venice, a secret, single outdoor clay court tucked away behind a villa and a 15-foot wall shrouded with vines.

There are urban courts, including the Knickerbocker Field Club, deep in the heart of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Academies, like Rafael Nadal’s tennis temple in Mallorca, Spain. And the extreme: a single court completely isolated in the wilds of Scotland; a court in northern Spain revealed when the tide goes out, the sand hardens, and the metallic plates that serve as lines re-emerge; and a court in Kenya made out of termite mounds.

Throughout, Pachelli not only conducts a masterful, once-in-a-lifetime tour of the world’s best courts, but in his writing does something equally immersive: He captures the real passion-some might say obsession-that tennis inspires. Because it’s on the court, no matter how grandiose or mundane, whether in an exotic locale or around the corner, where tennis players truly see themselves. Where we come face-to-face with our temperament, our drive, our frustration, our bliss, our longing.