It is with great pleasure and a small measure of trepidation that I announce the release of The Next Point: Selected Tennis Criticism 2011 – 2013.
This new volume features what I consider to be the best tennis pieces I have written in the last three seasons. There are about fifty of these. There’s also a fairly long introduction, in which I essay a general explanation for the term ‘tennis criticism’, lash into the unacceptably poor standard of so much current tennis writing, and declare that Mikhail Youzhny will win this year’s US Open.
Taken from the Introduction:
While I have attempted to choose only the best pieces, I have also been guided by a sense of variety. It wouldn’t do if all the selections happened to fall during a particular tournament or all focussed on a single player. Given that I find certain tournaments and players inherently more rewarding to write about, this was a very real concern. Tomas Berdych, for example, features frequently, while Juan Martin del Potro features hardly ever. This doesn’t reflect any personal preference for the Czech over the Argentine. Indeed, I’ve always felt sympathetic towards del Potro, while Berdych was a taste laboriously acquired. I used to have great fun thinking up new ways to suggest he was a robot. Given Berdych’s new-found humanity, I could no doubt mount a persuasive argument that he is a more inherently literary character. But it’s probably just a coincidence. I quite like Andy Murray, a very literary character, but he doesn’t feature much, either. I urge you not to read too much into it. My articles aren’t Michelin stars.
My intention is that the pieces in this volume represent the best that I can do, within the broad limits of theme and chronology outlined above. It therefore follows that any pieces that I feel merit improvement should therefore be improved. Admittedly that was also my intention when I wrote them the first time. The difference is that the original pieces were written in a tearing hurry, which is not the ideal way to produce anything. Astute readers will soon discover that many of the pieces in this volume have changed from their original incarnations. The truth is all of them were revised to some extent. In some cases this entailed just a nip or tuck here and there. In other cases the changes were substantial. Some of the pieces were heavily cut, others were lengthened. In a few cases two adjacent articles were combined into one. All up, I’m satisfied there’s more than enough new material to justify the modest asking price ($5.99 US).
Long-time readers will perhaps raise an eyebrow at some of the inclusions, and will certainly quibble at some of the omissions. Nadal fans, for example, might wonder why my article on the 2013 Madrid final didn’t make the cut (sorry Miri). I can say that it was in contention, but ultimately couldn’t justify its place next to the Rome final recap from the following week. There were about dozen pieces that nearly made it in, and some were in until late in the editing process. The Luck of the Draw from last year’s Australian Open was cut only a few days ago. Ultimately I couldn’t ask a satisfying first half to compensate for a flat ending.
The Next Point: Selected Tennis Criticism 2011 – 2013 is currently available from the following outlets:
- Amazon (Kindle’s .mobi format). For those who aren’t aware, there is a free Kindle app that enables you to read Kindle ebooks on Apple and Android devices (probably Windows, too);
- iTunes (for Apple devices and iBooks);
- Smashwords (.epub);
- Barnes & Noble Nook Store (.epub).
I also intend to do a small print run, though how small will depend on the level of interest. Plenty of people who knew of this project as it progressed have expressed a desire to own a physical copy. If you’d like one, too, please let me know. Bear in mind that it will cost significantly more than ebook versions, to cover printing costs and shipping.
I’d like to thank all those who contributed their time, energy and expertise in preparing this volume, especially Alexandra. And as always my everlasting love and gratitude go to Kate, Sabine and Elias, who believes with all his heart that he and Novak Djokovic will one day be best friends.