Tennis ​Shoes is about the Heath family: Jim and Susan (twins), Nicky and David. Their father is a doctor, and their mother “just the right sort of wife for a doctor”. Also in the household are Annie (formerly a circus acrobat, now their cook), and Miss Pinn (“Pinny”) who was trained as a governess, but is more of a “mother’s help”, since all of the children go to school.

Dr Heath’s father had once been first class at tennis, and he encourages the children to take it up. He gives them a fancy moneybox – the “Tennis House” – and says they should all try to save money to pay for racquets, balls, and anything else they might need.

Initially, the children are taught by their father. Jim has some ability, but is not a particularly good student, as he argues with his father, and can be rather stubborn. Susan is extremely promising, gaining success in tournaments, and recognition by the press. Nicky has a natural aptitude, but, like Jim, is not a good student, and is also very lazy. David (who is only four when the book starts) is less involved in tennis than the rest of the family, as he is more interested in singing.

By the end of the book, three of the children have decided that they only wish to play tennis for fun, rather than making a career of it. All the family’s support, therefore, is placed behind the one who is most likely to be a champion.

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