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Generation Chef by Karen Stabiner
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Courting Fame

COURTING FAME: The Perilous Road to Women’s Tennis Stardom

Courting Fame book coverFROM THE BOOK JACKET

This is a story of gifted kids and proud parents, told as it is lived – at breakneck speedy. Athletic little girls start playing tennis at four, competing at seven, making career decisions before they’re old enough to drive. But there are risks that come with the exhilarations of achievement: even the most talented teenagers can be undone by an abused body or an undisciplined mind.

There are no guarantees, only the wild temptations of money and fame in a professional sport that didn’t exist when the girls we meet in this book were born. And there are tough lessons that the parents and their daughters must learn, because women’s tennis is a big business in which a youngster’s age, appearance, and poise matters as much as her backhand.

At courtside, in motel rooms around the country, at agonizing family councils back home, Karen Stabiner accompanies young players-most closely, Debbie Spence (the nation’s top-ranked amateur), Shawn Foltz, and Melissa Gurney-as they compete on the edge of turning pro. Along with the author, we become intimately acquainted with these girls-so exceptional and yet so normal-and with their harried, ambitious parents, as well as the coaches and agents, who play their own high-pressure, high-stakes games. She shows us family relationships changing under that pressure, athletic excellence brought about by talent and rigorous training, and the ever-present calculations of monetary gain and loss.

Courting Fame is a wonderfully rich book: blessed with lively and appealing protagonists, filled with dramatic and suspenseful events (both on-and-off-court), and, finally, important as the first detailed, thoughtful view from the insider of present-day women’s tennis-a sport now increasingly seen as ripe for reform.