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120 of the Best Tennis Books: Hand-picked Favorites

120 Of The Best Tennis Books

Hand-picked favorites

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By Jon Crim
TennisCompanion

If you’re looking for a new tennis book, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best tennis books ever written by the biggest names in our sport, and organized them so you can quickly find a book you’ll love.

At the time of creating this resource, every book on this list had terrific reviews, and many sit on our bookshelf, so we’re confident you’ll find a book that you enjoy.

With 120 books on our list, there’s a lot to look through, so we’ve hand-picked 15 of the greatest tennis books that stand out from the crowd. If you’re in a rush or looking for the cream of the crop, then this section is for you.

Book
Open by Andre Agassi
Rafa by Rafael Nadal, John Carlin
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
The Outsider by Jimmy Connors
Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
The Art of Doubles by Pat Blaskower
A Terrible Splendor by Marshall Jon Fisher
Tennis Strategy by Grant Grinnell
Tennis Fitness for the Love of It by Suzanna McGee
Tennis Anatomy by Paul Roetert
Levels of the Game by John McPhee
Complete Conditioning for Tennis by Paul Roetert
Championship Tennis by Frank Giampaolo
Tennis For The Rest of Us by Dave Kocak
Tennis For Dummies by Patrick McEnroe, Peter Bodo

Below you’ll find an overview of the categories of books we cover – click any of them to jump to that section of the article or keep scrolling to browse them all.

Article Contents

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About This Guide

If you’re just getting into tennis or you’ve been playing for years, we believe there’s a book out there for just about everyone.

At TennisCompanion, we’ve read more books than we can count. Unfortunately, finding tennis books was never all that easy, and finding a good book was even harder.

Over the years, we’ve kept a list of our favorite books, but we wanted to take that list a step further, so we’ve come up with a comprehensive list that includes our favorites, as well as other books, members in our community have read and loved.

As you’re scrolling, you’ll find individual books tagged with “TC.” These are some of our all-time favorites.

We hope you enjoy our list, and if you have any that you think we missed, we’d love for you to share in the comments at the bottom.

Tennis Books for Gifts

Are you buying a book as a gift? If so, you may want to head over and check out our gift-giving guide for tennis players. We have one for men, women, and even for coaches too.

The Best Tennis Books of All Time

Here’s a selection of what we consider to be some of the best tennis books of all time. You’ll find each of these books represented in their respective categories of this guide as well. Enjoy!

Open
by Andre Aggasi

Open by Andre Agassi

Rafa
by Rafael Nadal, John Carlin

Rafa by John Carlin

The Inner Game of Tennis
by W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

The Outsider
by Jimmy Connors

The Outsider by Jimmy Connors

Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis
by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison

Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert

The Art of Doubles: Winning Tennis Strategies & Drills
by Pat Blaskower

The Art of Doubles Winning Tennis Strategies & Drills by Pat Blaskower

A Terrible Splendor
by Marshall Jon Fisher

A Terrible Splendor by Marshall John Fisher

Tennis Strategy: How to Beat Any Style Player
by Grant Grinnell

Tennis Strategy: How to Beat Any Player by Grant Grinnell

Tennis Fitness for the Love of It
by Suzanna McGee

Tennis Fitness for the Love of It by Suzanna McGee

Tennis Anatomy
by Paul Roetert

Tennis Anatomy by Paul Roetert

Levels of the Game
by John McPhee

Levels of the Game by John McPhee

Complete Conditioning for Tennis
by Paul Roetert

Complete Conditioning for Tennis by Paul Roetert

Championship Tennis
by Frank Giampaolo

Championship Tennis by Frank Giampaolo

Tennis For The Rest of Us
by Dave Kocak

Tennis for the Rest of Us by Dave Kocak

Tennis For Dummies
by Patrick McEnroe, Peter Bodo

Tennis for Dummies by Patrick McEnroe & Peter Bodo

Tennis Rule Books

In tennis or any sport, understanding the rules of the game is fundamentally important to ensure you’re playing accurately and fairly. For many players, the rules of tennis are learned slowly over time through tennis lessons, practice, and competition.

However, in my experience, few players take the time to thoroughly read the rule books, which can put you at a disadvantage, particularly in competition. After all, if you don’t know how to handle a specific scenario, you may give up a point unnecessarily.

For example, if your hat falls out of bounds during a point, and your opponent’s shot hits your hat, who wins the point? I guess you’ll have to do some reading to find out.

In this section, we cover a wide range of rulebooks per the different governing bodies in tennis, including the USTA, ITF, ATP, WTA, and ITA. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read through the most relevant rulebook for you, I’d highly suggest you do it at some point.

If you love the sport, you’ll most likely enjoy learning all the nuances and technicalities, and you’ll be a better tennis player for it.

Book Name Author
USTA rules USTA
Official USTA rule book USTA
Friend at court USTA
ITA rules ITA
Official ITA rule book ITA
ATP rules ATP
WTA rules WTA
ITF rules ITF
Official Rules of Tennis USTA

History of Tennis and Coffee Table Books

With ancient forms of the game dating back thousands of years, tennis has a rich and storied history that has been captured thoughtfully by only a handful of books.

As avid tennis players, we have a great appreciation for our sport, and these books have provided us with meaningful opportunities to expand our knowledge and enjoyment of the game.

Whether you’re new to the game or have been playing for years, the following books are invaluable resources for learning more about the origins of our sport and for providing detailed accounts of more recent years in tennis. They also make great gifts for bringing younger players up-to-speed on past years and players who have played the sport before them, some of which you’ll find referenced by commentators.

Last but not least, this section also serves up excellent coffee table books for striking up a conversation. Even the casual tennis fan can enjoy pouring over these types of books for a few moments, while the tennis fanatic will have a hard time putting them down.

Book Name Author
The Bud Collins History of Tennis Bud Collins
The Fireside Book of Tennis Allison Danzig, Peter Schwed
The Tennis Book John Parsons, Henry Wancke
Tennis: Origins and Mysteries Malcolm D. Whitman
Love Game: A History of Tennis Elizabeth Wilson
Tennis:Cultural History Heiner Gillmeister
Wimbledon: The Official History John Barrett
The Pros Peter Underwood
50th Anniversary US Open Tennis Book Rick Rennert

Tennis Player Books: Memoirs, Autobiographies, Biographies

Books about tennis players are easily the best selling of any category we include in this guide.

As fans, we can’t help but want to learn more about some of the most celebrated players in our sport, and a memoir, autobiography or biography will provide the most exceptional insight.

From Andre Agassi’s hugely popular “Open” to Jame Blake’s remarkable story “Breaking Back” and classics like Arthur Ashe’s “Days of Grace,” there are plenty of classics to consider.

Each book provides detailed accounts of the lives and experiences the most famous tennis athletes ever to step foot on a court. If you’re looking for an entertaining tennis book, then this section is for you.

Book Name Author
Open Andre Agassi
Rafa Rafael Nadal, John Carlin
The Outsider Jimmy Connors
Serve to Win Novak Djokovic
Unstoppable: My Life So Far Maria Sharapova
A Champion’s Mind Pete Sampras, Peter Bodo
On the Line Serena Williams
Breaking Back James Blake
Getting a Grip Monica Seles
Days of Grace Arthur Ashe, Arnold Rampersad
Federer Chris Bowers
Rod Laver Rod Laver, Larry Writer
Mr Nastase Ilie Nastase
Pressure is a Privilege Billie Jean King
Facing Federer Scoop Malinowski
Novak Djokovic and the Rise of Serbia Chris Bowers
Hard Courts John Feinstein
Serious John McEnroe
The Court Jester Mansour Bahrami
Andy Murray Andy Murray
The Days of Roger Federer Randy Walker

Books for Beginners: How to Play Tennis

If you’re new to the sport and looking for some books on how to play tennis and the fundamentals, then this section is for you. As a beginner, these books will help provide you with the necessary foundation to be successful in tennis.

From scoring to equipment, strokes, how to improve your game, and just about everything in between, these books are the perfect starting point for beginners or players looking for a refresher on the fundamentals.

We also believe these books have the potential to help flatten the learning curve for new players, which can be quite steep and therefore discouraging.

Often, the first place new players will turn is private or group lessons when they’re first starting to learn how to play tennis. While lessons are a fantastic way to get started, there is only so much an instructor can cover in an hour, so these books provide a great way to fill in the gaps and accelerate how quickly you learn the game.

Book Name Author
Tennis For The Rest Of Us Dave Kocak
Tennis For Dummies Patrick McEnroe, Peter Bodo
Eight Golden Rules for How to Play Your Best Tennis Sally Huss
Tennis Strokes that Win Frank Early
How to Play Tennis Margie Gallagher
Tennis Skills: The Player’s Guide Tom Sadzeck
Tennis Fundamentals Human Kinetics, Carol Matsuzaki
Visual Tennis John Yandell

Fiction Tennis Books for Kids

What better way to introduce kids to the sport of tennis than through a bedtime story?

If you love tennis and you have kids, there are a handful of great fiction books that cater to different ages of children from babies, to toddlers, preschoolers, and young children, while also appealing to the adults that help read them.

These books for kids are a fantastic addition to any child’s collection of bedtime stories and also make terrific companions for vacations or gifts for friends and family.

Book Name Author
Legacy and the Queen Annie Matthew, Kobe Bryant
A Magical Racquet Ride Marissa Irvin Gould
Cam Jansen: the Tennis Trophy Mystery David A. Adler
Alice the Tennis Fairy Daisy Meadows
Tennis A to Z Aaron King, Melody Lee
Murphy Bear’s Tennis Lesson Maura Moynihan
Arthur Ashe: Young Tennis Champion Paul Mantell
The ABC’s of Tennis Cheryl Lagunilla
Williamsbeagle: Play Tennis Jonathan Appata
The Adventures of Buddy the Ball Brando Christo
Tennis, Anyone? Shane McG

Tennis Strategy and Tactic Books

If you’re looking to improve your game and take things to the next level, then this section of strategy and tactic books is for you.

When first learning the game, there’s no substitute for stroke development and technique – it’s fundamental to achieving success on the court. However, players stand to gain higher levels of success if they learn to treat their matches like a chess match.

In other words, tennis is as much a game of strategy as it is a physical battle between two opponents. More often than not, lessons and clinics, where the focus tends to skew toward the fundamentals, do not include the strategic end of tennis and the specific tactics players can use to win more matches.

We’ve found that books about tennis strategy are eye-opening to intermediate and advanced players. If you’re feeling comfortable with your strokes, but you don’t have a game plan when you step out on the court, then it’s likely you’d benefit from a book on tennis strategy.

Book Name Author
Tennis Strategy: How to Beat Any Style Player Grant Grinnell
The Art of Doubles: Winning Tennis Strategies and Drills Pat Blaskower
Senior Tennis: Strokes, Strategies, Rules and Remedies George Wachtel
Championship Tennis Frank Giampaolo
Tennis Secrets: Discover What the Pros Know Frank Sberno
Killer Doubles: Strategies and tactics for better tennis Rick Altman
Tennis Doubles Beyond Big Shots Greg Moran
Unlimited Doubles!! Steve Tourdo
Tennis Course, Volume 1: Techniques and Tactics German Tennis Organization
Winning Singles Strategy for Recreational Tennis Players Gerry Donohue
Tennis Tactics: Winning Patterns of Play USTA
Tennis: Tennis Strategies Ace McCloud
Tennis Strokes and Tactics John Littleford, Andrew Magrath
Tennis Beyond Big Shots Greg Moran
Real Tennis Tips For Real Tennis Players Kim Selzman
Game, Set and Match Mark Hodgkinson

Psychology and Mental Tennis Books

As any top player will tell you, tennis is just as much a mental game as it is physical.

Have you ever started a match where you’re on fire in the first set, only to tank things in the second and third? How about getting frustrated at a poor line call by an opponent, double-faulting on game point, or stepping out on the court some days, and you can’t seem to find your rhythm.

If you’ve played tennis for any length of time, you’ve likely experienced first hand how a poor mindset has the potential to derail a match completely and, unfortunately, make tennis significantly less enjoyable – after all, it’s just a game, right?

Unfortunately, many players fail to recognize their game can benefit from an honest look at their mental and emotional state before, during, and after tennis matches, or they fail to realize there are resources and proven strategies available to them.

If you play competitive tennis with friends, at your local club, in high school, college, or even beyond, then we believe you’ll find a book on psychology, and the mental game of tennis, useful. These books will help you elevate your game and win more consistently.

Book Name Author
The Inner Game of Tennis W. Timothy Gallwey
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
Zen Tennis: Playing in the Zone Dr. Joseph Parent, Bill Scanlon
Tennis Inside The Zone: 32 Mental Training Workouts for Champions Rob Polishook M.A.
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance Jeff Greenwald
Mastering the Mental Game in Tennis: 11 Tips for Winning More Tennis Matches Jamie Andrews
How To Play Tennis: Think Like A Pro, Not Like An Amateur Alan Margot, Anne Rosales
Mental Toughness 101 Greg Levine
Coaching Mentally Tough Tennis Anthony Ross
Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game John F. Murray
Vision Tennis: A Story That Teaches the Secrets of Mental Toughness Michael Zosel
Tennis: Play the Mental Game David Ranney
Tennis: Winning the Mental Match Allen Fox
Vic Braden’s Mental Tennis Vic Braden, Robert Wool
Master Your Tennis Game: 50 Mental Strategies and Tactics Ken DeHart

Tennis Coaching and Instruction Books

If you’re a tennis coach, then having a collection of books that you can refer to for inspiration and advice can be incredibly useful.

If you’re looking to help one of your players out of a slump, need a new set of drills to improve your team or player’s strokes or guidance on how to train players, then this section of books is for you.

These coaching books are also great for parents who are working directly with their children on improving their game or existing players who are interested in coaching a team or becoming a tennis instructor.

Lastly, as a player, you may find these books incredibly insightful to understand what to look for in a coach or private instructor.

Book Name Author
The Art of Coaching High School Tennis Bill Patton
Developing High Performance Tennis Players Edgar Giffenig
Coaching Tennis Chuck Kriese
Building a Champion: The Fundamentals of Playing & Coaching Tennis Dan McCain
Let’s Play Tennis! A Guide for Parents and Kids Patricia Egart
Coaching Tennis Successfully USTA
Competitive Tennis for Young Players Manfred Grosser, Richard Schonborn
Raising Big Smiling Tennis Kids Keith Kattan
Coaching Tennis Technical & Tactical Skills American Sport Education Program
Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Handbook Nick Bollettieri
Kids Book Of Tennis Reggie Vasquez Jr.
Pressure Tennis Paul Wardlaw

Tennis Conditioning and Fitness Books

Tennis conditioning and fitness is easily the most overlooked part of our sport. As an incredibly technical sport, stroke development and technique are often at the forefront of player development. The mental side of tennis gets some attention too, but conditioning and fitness are often entirely ignored, and it’s a shame.

Unfortunately, for most players, talent will only take you so far. Tennis has become so competitive and physical that you need to be in excellent shape to go the distance and hang with top players.

Think about some of the game’s top players over the past decade. Names like Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Simona Halep, Novak Djokovic, and Angelique Kerber are a few that come to mind, each with incredible physical prowess.

When Andy Murray finally took his conditioning seriously earlier in his career, it transformed his game, and it helped him last longer 3-5 set matches. It’s also a huge part of what’s helped him come back from many injuries, including his most recent hip surgery.

Conditioning and fitness enable your best strokes and ensure you can compete at the highest level throughout a match. Most players find that as they get tired, their game slowly diminishes. In turn, it’s harder to get their feet planted before a groundstroke, drop low for a volley, or maintain their form through their service motion, and in general, their game suffers. In turn, it becomes harder to maintain a positive mental frame of mind, which is crucial in tennis.

Whether you’re looking to gain a considerable edge over the competition, outlast tough opponents in longer matches or ensure that you maximize your talent, I’d highly recommend you check out these conditioning and fitness books. If not, at least work with a coach with a few copies, as there is no substitute for being match fit.

Book Name Author
Tennis Fitness for the Love of it Suzanna McGee
Tennis Anatomy Paul Roetert, Mark Kovacs
Complete Conditioning for Tennis Paul Roetert, Todd Ellenbecker, USTA
Tennis Fitness Ranil Harshana
Fit to Play Tennis Carl Petersen, Nina Nittinger
How the Tennis Gods Move Daniel McCain
From Breakpoint to Advantage Babette Pluim M.D. Ph.D, Marc Safran M.D.

Best Tennis Books for Doubles

When competing as a younger player, particularly in high school and college, doubles can play a critical role in a team’s success and help buffer a singles lineup that doesn’t have as much depth.

If you ask us, it can be more fun too. Some of our best memories of playing tennis in college were doubles. It’s also popular at the club and recreational level.

On the pro tour, doubles teams like the Bryan brothers, Williams sisters, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová, have all enjoyed great success in doubles over the past decade. Not to mention the fact that it remains a crucial part of team tournaments like the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, and decided the winner at the inaugural 2020 ATP Cup.

However, many players and coaches don’t give doubles the credit it deserves, which is an entirely different playbook. Success in singles does not guarantee it in doubles, far from it. Luckily, we have this group of books to refer to that give doubles the attention it deserves and provides eager players looking to take it to the next level some excellent resources.

Book Name Author
The Art of Doubles: Winning Tennis Strategies and Drills Pat Blaskower
On the Ball: Doubles Tennis Tactics for Recreational Players Gyata Stormon
Dynamite Doubles: Play Winning Tennis Today! Helle Sparre
Doubles Tennis Tactics Louis Cayer
Winning Doubles Strategy for Recreational Tennis Players Gerry Donohue
Doubles Wisdom for Every Level: How to Gain Real Confidence on the Tennis Court Derek Myers

Other Noteworthy Tennis Books

The following list is a selection of great books that didn’t quite find a home in our main categories above, but they’re worth including, so we wanted to make sure you still knew about them.

Book Name Author
A Terrible Splendor Marshall Jon Fisher
Levels of the Game John McPhee
Photographing Tennis Chris Nicholson
A Game to Love: In Celebration of Tennis Mike Powell
The Art of Lawn Tennis William T. Tilden
Tennis and the Meaning of Life Jay Jennings

New Tennis Books for 2020

This year, we already have a few new book releases and others to keep an eye on. These haven’t officially made our list of the best books because we haven’t read them yet, but they’ll get their shot.

Book Name Author
Seeing Serena Gerald Marzorati
Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar Sasha Abramsky
Serena Williams: Tennis Champion, Sports Legend, and Cultural Heroine Merlisa Lawrence Corbett
Bianca Andreescu: She The North Stephanie Myles

Have a suggestion?

What do you think about our list? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

We’d also love to hear about any books you think should be on our list in the comments so we can continue to improve it with new additions.

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The last comment and 2 other comment(s) need to be approved.
12 replies
  1. Peter Kelly
    Peter Kelly says:

    Break Point by Vincent Spadea.
    It was an interesting book. It had some gossip. I really enjoyed reading it. And it had some good insight about life on the pro tour.

    Reply
  2. Joe Guiney
    Joe Guiney says:

    I came here because I was trying to find out if Ilie Nastase’s novel, “Breakpoint,” was ghostwritten or what. I found it in one of those little free librarys, and I’m in the middle of reading it, and it is really quite good. If this wasn’t ghosted, Nastase has a hell of a command of the English language for a Romanian.

    You should maybe add this book to your list. BTW, I have several of the titles on your list (The Inner Game, The Outsider, Fireside Book of Tennis, etc. I also have a couple books on building and maintaining clay courts –I used to be groundskeeper at a tennis club–) but a real corker I’ve got, that I’ll bet you’ve never heard of, is Mercer Beasley’s [he was Elsworth Vinese’s coach] book, “How To Play Tennis.” He maintained that the ‘bent-knee overhead’ was the shot of the future.

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Joe! Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll have to check out Break Point – looks like an interesting read. Haha, I definitely hadn’t come across that book from Beasley. I was able to find it online.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  3. Clive Chat
    Clive Chat says:

    Here’s another great tennis book for your list: a recently published novel called Chance to Break. It’s getting terrific reviews.

    Reply
  4. Mary Nhin
    Mary Nhin says:

    How to Win Wimbledon in Pajamas is a mental toughness series book that teaches children about GRIT and how to be mentally tough! Check it out on amazon!

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Mary, thanks for sharing. It looks like a fun book that I’ll have to check out. I think it wins for best title. The author looks familiar ;)

      Reply
  5. Bud
    Bud says:

    Can you include an section on Tennis Fiction other than for kids; my favorites
    “World Class” Jane and Burt Boyar
    “You Don’t No Jack” Jack Marion
    “Tennis and Meaning of Life” Jay Jennings

    Reply
  6. Roger Hare
    Roger Hare says:

    Thanks for your your great list and will be certainly be perusing some of these very soon. Only additions you might want to consider:

    Coffee Table: “Book of Tennis Racquets”, Siegfied Kuebler – great for racquet collectors and viewing your favorite racquets of the past

    Fiction: “World Class”,Boyar & Boyar – adult fiction you can’t put down about early 60’s tennis right before and during the new “open” era. Also, “You Don’t No Jack”, Marion. If you ever played USTA league tennis you will love this one

    Instruction: “Teaching Tennis Pro”, Leary – this is an oldie. If you can find this it, it is like a good pro giving you tips and how to improve your strokes via illustration and text. Also, Vic Braden’s “Tennis for the Future” has lot of photos that help with this visualization process too.

    Books for Beginners – “Junior Tennis for Parents…A Sweat Equity Approach”, Marion – If you have kids starting tennis this is a must get. Will save you time and money

    Strategy – “Think to Win” – Fox; great read, since he was the coach of Brad Gilbert who wrote ultimate strategy book “Winning Ugly”. Combine these together and this is dynamite!

    All I have, and again appreciate your list!

    (also, saw John’s comment on a Nastase novel, I have one called “The Net” by him . Somewhat interesting and little edgy)

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing a few additional books – love the recommendations.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  7. Roger Hare
    Roger Hare says:

    You too sir! Hey, left one off that has always served well and timeless in the psychology and mental category – “Mental Toughness for Sports”, Loehr. Look forward to looking on this site in the future for others to read. Again, thanks!

    Reply

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