Jackie Buxton guests: #Tennis Anyone? the race to #publication @jaxbees

Jackie Buxton brings us:

Jackie Buxton, freelance copywriter

Jackie Buxton, freelance copywriter

Baghdatis, the race is on!

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to experience a day which we know we’ll remember forever. Yesterday, with my centre court ticket for Wimbledon in my hot little hand, this was that day for me.

After hitting a ball relentlessly against our tin garage door before progressing, much to the delight of the neighbourhood I’m sure, to the pitted, gravel courts near my grandparents and the instant game of doubles which was me and my three sisters, my love for tennis was cemented around my twelfth birthday. This was when I finally procured a racquet of my own. It was a white Slazenger with a purple handle and very of-the-moment compared to the wooden racquets loaned out at school. There wasn’t a speck of steel or graphite and the head was only the size of a large tea plate.

I should point out here that, although an enthusiastic amateur, I don’t recall ever winning anything more significant than a hearty handshake. Even if I’d had the skill, which I didn’t, I certainly didn’t have the head for it.  ‘Don’t throw it all away now,’ the little voices would say. ‘Just don’t do a double fault for goodness sake, don’t do a double…’ Oh dear.

It didn’t matter. Tennis for me was more about meeting my friend, Rachel, at the town club (it wasn’t as grand as it sounds) and bashing the ball back and forwards over the net as we discussed our burgeoning love lives, our fast deteriorating school and the general trials and hairspray which accompanied teenagehood in The Eighties.

Lack of skill, height and hunger for the game were major contributory factors as to why my tennis never went any further but it didn’t stop me following Wimbledon on BBC2 every year, in the days when McEnroe still had the anger and the headband and Connors wasn’t stopped from jumping over the barrier to sit with the crowd while the slightly befuddled umpire attempted to sort out whatever battle of wits he’d generally started.

Yesterday, the first two matches went pretty much as the winner would have planned.  Caroline Wozniacki, the number one seed, finished off her opponent’s Wimbledon in an hour.  And Roger Federer showed us why he has won quite so many tournaments to date. Both were incredibly impressive. But it was a little like viewing a painting from an undoubtedly talented painter which you wouldn’t hang in your home; you can appreciate the skill but you’re seeing it with your eyes and not your heart.

Then came Novak Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis. Although a fan of Djokovic (largely, and I apologise to tennis purists, because he always signs autographs and smiles when his opponent hits an unassailable winner), I found myself cheering for another seemingly nice guy, Baghdatis. Djokovic had won the first set and I didn’t want my day at Wimbledon to end any sooner than it had to.

When Baghdatis won the second, I flung my arms in the air like it was my child out there. I’d lived that second set with him, my heart pumping harder, willing the stunning rallies to continue and for Baghdatis to finally outwit Djokovic. I found myself thinking positive thoughts on his behalf.  Ranked 30 places behind Djokovic, I willed Baghdatis to tell himself that he was his equal.

Marcos Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis

And when they sat down at the end of the third set and Baghdatis was trailing two sets to

one, I thought to myself that winning tennis matches at this level is a little like the battle to publication. It’s understood that tennis players have talent, it’s also true that without the self-belief and determination to go with it, they will not succeed. Assuming a writing competence, this is the same of writers who are not yet published.

‘What’s the difference between a published and an unpublished writer?’, thriller writer and witty man, JR Ellory, asked us at a writers’ conference. ‘The unpublished author gave up,’ he said.

Djokovic crashed out of Wimbledon in 2010 and vowed he’d come back better.  He changed his diet and the way he trained and an amazing year followed. I’m not sure all writers will get published who continue to submit the same rejected material – but have a re-read, act on some new feedback and chances must surely be higher.

It is hard to receive that stinging slap to the face when your baby is rejected, without rubbing the sore patch for a while. But tennis players don’t take months off.  They take a day, perhaps, but then they’re back out training, tweaking their game.

Baghdatis’ submission for the ultimate prize in tennis was rejected yesterday. He’s never yet won a Grand Slam. Many, even some close to him, will think he never will.  But nobody can influence the outcome more than Baghdatis and come the next major tournament, I know he’ll be back out there trying again.

Will Baghdatis win a Grand Slam tennis tournament? Will I get published? Marcos, the race is on.


About Jackie from her blog:

What started as musings during my travels along that well-worn path to the publishing gold at the end of the wannabe published author’s rainbow, has turned into chatter about the quirky, unbelievable and downright bizarre things that happen in life. Nobody is more surprised than me to find that much of the content falls into my lap while sitting in my little study. I say, ‘little’, in reality my study is a converted double bedroom with an antique wooden desk and shelves and shelves of books to rival our local mobile library van. Sound good so far? It’s also lined with a messy family of four’s collection of essential items which have no home, piles of belongings which would go in the garage we don’t have and general every day paraphernalia which hasn’t quite made it to the bedroom of choice. I’m not complaining. I wish I could spend more time here.


Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction.

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Posted in guest blogging
7 comments on “Jackie Buxton guests: #Tennis Anyone? the race to #publication @jaxbees
  1. jaxbee says:

    Thanks Karen and you are so right about the luck bit and agree with Thea that there are two types of luck – the stuff you make and the stuff you get! I can’t be doing with people who say they’re so unlucky though, you have to open your eyes and see it happening…

  2. You’ll probably get published before Baghdatis wins a slam. 😉 That Australian Open where he made it to the final and took a set off Fed was probably as close as it’ll get, but he is a guy that’s fun to watch.

    That’s awesome that you got to go to Wimbledon. I was at Indian Wells the last two years (not quite as prestigious, hah!), and it was a blast seeing the guys up close. We snagged courtside seats for some doubles with Murray/Murray, Djokovic/Troicki and some of the other big guys. The doubles is fun because it’s hardly ever on the big stadium courts, so you can actually get in close, and all the top singles players were doing doubles at that tournie.

    Anyway, random commenting. 😉 Good luck with the publication hunt!

    • jaxbee says:

      I love your optimism, Lindsay, although I’m not sure Baghdatis would feel the same!!! And no! Indian Wells would be amazing too. That doubles game sounds a good match. I saw a couple of games of the doubles and you’re right, we did get up close. Then you can really feel how hard they’re hitting that ball.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Milla says:

    adore tennis (oops, it happens to be on in the background as I type). Having nothing but admiration for their bloody hard work and determination. Sometimes it’s a real hassle just going back to the car for that extra few bags of shopping and there they are day in day out (not just for Wimbledon as the wonders of world-champs via Sky TV has taught me) battling away. Compare that to footballers and words fail me. For writers, it’s a longer haul with no claps en route and no snazzy headgear. But no nasty grunting, or sweat-drenched bodies either.

  4. Karen says:

    Lovely analogy, and it would be great if he did win one day. Apart from passion and dedication outcomes occasionally rely on a bit of luck – being in the right place at the right time with the planets aligned! Sadly, that’s something we can’t influence, but being dedicated at least keeps us in the game!

    • Indeed! I think it’s a great analogy, and I think we make so much of our luck or at least with perserverance we’re ready for luck when it shows up on our doorsteps

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