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The Singles Game


The Singles Game

It’s been some time since I’ve read a Lauren Weisberger novel. Aside from her best-known THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, I’ve only read CHASING HARRY WINSTON, which I did not particularly enjoy. But I’m a fan of sports and played tennis when I was a kid, so I wanted to give her latest effort a try. THE SINGLES GAME is not a book about tennis, though. It’s about a tennis player on the professional tour who occasionally participates in the sport while being distracted by men, her family and her image.

Weisberger’s main character is Charlotte “Charlie” Silver, a 24-year-old professional tennis player who has yet to win a Grand Slam title. The book opens on her first-ever Centre Court match at Wimbledon, one she should easily be able to win against an opponent ranked worse than her 23rd in the world. Crisis strikes when her custom Nike shoes are deemed impermissible to wear because of thick pink stripes on the souls --- Wimbledon enforces a very strict all-white dress code by which its players must abide. Charlie’s longtime coach, Marcy, scrambles to find her some shoes, and she barely makes it to the court in time, wearing shoes she’s not used to. As Charlie is about to win the match and advance to the second round, she slips in her borrowed shoes, breaking her wrist and severely injuring her Achilles tendon.

"[I]f you’re a fan of Lauren Weisberger or curious about what it’s like to be on the professional tennis tour, especially as a single, hot twenty-something, take this book on your summer vacation."

After her injury, Marcy expresses doubt that it is something Charlie can recover from and return to the tour. So Charlie makes the decision to fire Marcy and hire a recently retired shark of a men’s coach named Todd Feltner, a man who has a reputation for verbally abusing his players, and for coaching them to winning major titles and Grand Slams. As a Slam is all Charlie wants, she brings Todd on board. His plans for her include a full image overhaul; he wants to turn her into a tennis badass --- “Warrior Princess,” he calls the concept. Project Warrior Princess features a diet, a hitting partner, more sponsors, not being nice to fellow tour players, being seen with a major tennis star named Marco with whom Charlie is already sleeping, black outfits on the court and bedazzled everything.

Charlie’s brother Jake, also her manager, is fully onboard; her father is not. Mr. Silver is afraid she’s losing who she is in the process of the image makeover. When Charlie wins a prestigious title after a questionable coaching decision by Todd and cheats on Marco with a movie star, she begins to wonder the same thing.

Scenes of Charlie at tournaments, practicing with her hitting partner Dan, her sexcapades with Marco, and run-ins with her rival Natalya set up the off-court activity. The opening has prepared the reader for some on-court action at these tournaments. But then Charlie falls asleep the night before her big match in Australia, and on the next page she’s in California playing an exhibition match for charity. There’s no mention of how she did at the Australian Open, if her ranking is rising or if she’s winning anything. The tension the tournaments begin to create isn’t capitalized on, the pace of the book slows, and it gets repetitive with no payoff.

The novel also takes too long to get going. The beginning follows Charlie through part of her recovery --- a six-month process --- and that is understandably not exciting. There is an entire chapter that is just conversations, essentially the same conversation, being rehashed between people. It starts with Charlie and Marcy, then Charlie calls Jake, Todd calls Charlie, Charlie calls Jake again, Charlie talks with her father. As I read it, Elvis kept coming to mind: “A little less conversation / a little more action.” For all that was going on in THE SINGLES GAME, there was not very much action.

That being said, if you’re a fan of Lauren Weisberger or curious about what it’s like to be on the professional tennis tour, especially as a single, hot twenty-something, take this book on your summer vacation. For that, it’s the perfect read.

Reviewed by Sarah Jackman on July 22, 2016

The Singles Game
by Lauren Weisberger

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1476778396
  • ISBN-13: 9781476778396