Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
It seems there are a lot of YA books lately with sports themes, but tennis isn't usually the sport of choice. Carol Clippinger's OPEN COURT presents the competitive and emotional pressures of tennis.
Holloway "Hall" Braxton is just thirteen and is making her mark in the world of tennis. She has pretty much outgrown her competition in Colorado, so what is next? Both her coach and her parents think it's time to start looking at improving her world ranking, but Hall isn't sure she's ready. Competing in world class tournaments means moving on from her local coach and attending one of the private tennis academies her parents have been researching. It also means moving away from home.
Hall's life is suddenly more complicated than ever. It's not just her tennis life that is changing. She and her best friend seem to be headed in different directions. Her doubles partner recently suffered a nervous breakdown and is currently living in a mental facility. And then there's Luke, the country club, private school heartthrob who is suddenly paying Hall a lot of attention.
Every night Hall presses her ear to the heating vent between her room and the kitchen to hear her parents plot and plan her tennis future. Her father has his sights set on Bickford Tennis Academy in Florida. Her mother (Hall calls her The Weak Link) seems less sure about sending their only daughter off to swampy Florida and tennis torture. No one bothers asking Hall what she wants, and it's beginning to freak her out.
For awhile Hall tries to lose herself in the world outside tennis. She hangs with her friends, especially handsome Luke and new friend, Polly. Amazed that someone as popular as Luke could be interested in her, Hall explores another side of her personality as she sneaks out for late night swims and make-out sessions. Her longtime friendship with best friend Eve is abandoned as she spends time with more rebellious Polly. But tennis continues to haunt Hall. Is it just a game or is it a much more important part of who she is?
OPEN COURT reaches into the pressures of competitive tennis. The pressure to win, to please coaches and parents, the grueling hours of practice that interfere with friendships, and the powerful love of the game are all revealed in this fast-paced novel. Even those with little knowledge of the game of tennis will still appreciate the drive and determination that pushes and yet terrifies Hall. OPEN COURT is a worthwhile addition to any collection.