Review: Losing at Love by Jennifer Iacopelli

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This was a good follow up to Game. Set. Match. With the French Open now behind them, Penny, Indy, and Jasmine look to make the quick turn around of Wimbledon.  Probably the most underrated difficult thing to do in any sport, go from the super slow clay courts of Roland Garros to the lightning fast grass courts of Wimbledon.  True, over the years, The All England Club has slowed down their courts in an attempt to encourage more rallies but it’s still unbelievable achievement to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.  Borg did it multiple times, Nadal has done it twice and Federer only once.  Ok, so you get the point.

All three girls are in very different places.  Indy had a successful French Open, in more ways than one.  She won the juniors and got Jack. Penny beat the World number 1 again but sprained her ankle in the process.  And poor Jasmine, crashed out the first round of the juniors and now is being pushed to play college instead of going pro.  All of their careers are going in different directions and the stakes are getting higher.  How does one balance friendships when your playing for thousands of dollars in the most prestigious tournament in the world?

Now, there are a few things I do have a problem with from a tennis fan perspective.  Indy and Jasmine have to qualify to make the women’s doubles field but when Indy is given a wildcard, she pulls out.  The reasoning is her coach and agent think that she can’t play qualifying and focus on her singles.  For someone who has followed tennis as long as I have I feel this in inaccurate, for lack of a better word.  Young players are often encouraged to play doubles when they are younger.  It gives them more match play, a chance to get real life experience of playing in tournaments.  It gives young players a chance to compete and learn how to compete on a more consistent basis while their singles game improves.  Winning is winning.  However, I understand from a drama point of view, why Miss Iacopelli would decide to go this way and really, I’m being nit picky here.

I do like the friendships.  I like that they are messy.  I like that for the most part, when they do fight, it’s not about boys but about their games.  They all may have dramatic love lives but for all three of them their tennis comes first.  I think it’s important to show that girls can be ambitious, that they can have drive but also have the love and respect of a man.  I hope that there are more of these because now that Wimbledon is over I can’t wait to see what happens at the US Open.

Review: Game Set Match by Jennifer Iacopelli

Featured imageI liked this a lot more then I thought I would and what a perfect time for me to read with just the French Open starting on Sunday.  The players of Outer Banks Tennis Academy are gearing up to play Roland Garros.  There is Penny Harrison, rising star on the WTA, who has just beat the number one player in the world.  Indy Gaffney, a natural talent who is getting back in the game after the death of her mother and Jasmine Randazzano, the daughter of two Grand Slam tennis.  They all of their sights set on tennis greatness and boys.  Despite being billed as a romance it’s pretty heavy on the tennis.  It actually has more tennis action then Monica Seles’ series, The Academy which is kinda surprising.

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Tennis, Anyone? The Academy Series by Monica Seles

For those who know me, I love the sport of tennis.  I actually love sports.  I think they are one of the real dramas in life. They are unpredictable and entertaining.  They happen live so no edits or rewrites. Almost nothing can unite a group of people, city, state or country the way sports can.  So yeah, I love sports but I really love tennis. So two years ago, when tennis legend Monica Seles decided to write a teen novel, I was so on it. So in honor of the Australian Open currently being played, here’s the skinny on The Academy Series.

Featured imageI once described the first book in the The Academy Series, Game On, to friends as Gossip Girl meets Bollettieri’s.  For those not in the know, Bollettieri’s is a tennis academy in Florida that has produced such great champions as Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Maria Sharapova and Seles herself. In Game On we are introduced to Maya, a tennis player who dreams of playing professionally.  She has earned an scholarship into the prestigious Academy that will hopefully set her on her way to tennis glory.  There are two ways into the Academy, scholarships or just being filthy rich and buying your way in.  At the Academy Maya meets many different people.  There’s Cleo, her roommate, who hopes to make it in Golf to support her family in China.  Nicole, already a tennis star, who is threatened by Maya.  Renee, a swimmer, who’s rich family has sort of dumped her there even though she doesn’t really have much athletic ability and Travis and Jake, sons the of Academy owner.  Travis, the golden son being groomed for Football glory and Jake, the bad boy living in his brother’s shadow.  I think you get the picture.

Featured imageNow, these are not the greatest books but I don’t think anyone who picked them up were looking for them to be.  They are fun beach reads with not a lot of substance but a whole lot of drama. It turns out that Maya has more to worry about than just her tennis. She also has to contend with possible endorsement deals, internet gossip, jealous rivals and boys’ fickle affection. Life at the Academy is a lot harder than Maya thought it would be.  The best thing about Game on and it’s sequel, Love Match is the friendship between Maya, Cleo and Renee.  Renee is clearly in the Haves and Maya and Cleo, the Haves-not but they make it work.  You don’t always get books with good female friendships. (You don’t really get it in movies or TV for that matter either.)  Girls are often rivals for grades, boys, beauty, etc. I really dug the friendship of these girls.  They are vastly different.  Cleo is a free spirit and a lesbian.  Renee is super rich and beautiful and Maya is your average American girl from Buffalo.  They are constantly supporting each other and pushing each other forward.  They sometimes get jealous of each other but they do always find ways back to each other.  Oh and they talk to each other.  What a concept!  What I don’t really like about the series is the lack of tennis. Maya is determined to make it as a player.  It’s her dream but tennis often falls to the back burner as soon as she has an opportunity to pose for an ad campaign or audition for a movie or Travis or Jake start to show interest in her.  It’s not until one of those things falls apart that she recommits herself to tennis.  Promising to focus on tennis from then on or until, you know, the next thing pops up.  Not exactly the best message for young girls.

So basically, if you are looking for a book about girls and sports, this really isn’t it.  It definitely has it’s problems but I do think fans of Gossip Girl and the like will like it.  At the moment, it’s only the two books.  Seles definitely left things open for a third book but I haven’t been able to find any news of a third book coming out.  I have to admit that does disappoint me because there are some story lines that would like to see how they unfold but those are the breaks.

Bonus: For more on The Academy, here’s Brian Phillips of Grantland.com’s hilarious review of the series.