Dreamspinner Press (2010)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (2/11)
Alan Chin is one of my favorite authors. His writing is exciting, fun and always has a societal conflict. In this story, Daniel Bottega and Jared Stoderling have been forced to leave the professional tennis circuit due to their “questionable” relationship. Both react to this critical event by hiding in their own safe haven. Daniel has been teaching tennis at a local tennis club and Jared drowned his sorrows in booze. Yet there was no question they belonged together, the problem was that the professional tennis circuit wasn’t ready for gays.
When Connor Lin, an upcoming Chinese American tennis player came into Daniel’s life, he saw that he once again had a chance to really put his skills to use as a tennis coach. However, he didn’t realize that he would have to compete with Connor’s dad Roy, an uptight, in-debt, gambling father. From the very first moment they met Roy had sparks in his eyes- he wanted one thing and that was for his son to be the top tennis player and worth millions. He didn’t care who he had to step on to get it – he needed to get out of debt. Roy didn’t like the fact that Daniel was gay, he thought others would think his son was gay also.
Throughout Connor’s training his dad had one agenda – money. Connor’s grandfather wanted him to go to college to become a doctor. Connor wanted both and knew he couldn’t please everyone.
Throughout their time training, Daniel had a good strategy on how to get Connor in shape and focused. Connor wasn’t always happy but he did what was asked of him and soon was ready to play in the lower level circuits. Even Jared got excited about professional tennis once again and became Connor’s practice partner. Although Daniel and Jared tried to keep their relationship hidden, one quick emotional move by Jared caused shock in the tennis world. This conflict eventually led up to protests with gays coming in full force to support their sports heroes and someone getting shot.
Alan Chin did his research on the professional tennis circuit and how it operates. Sometimes there are very shady and egotistical characters as there are in any sport. He provides just enough information to readers so they know he has knowledge about this sport and what transpires. Yet, even though tennis is a large part of the storyline, the real issue is gays in a heterosexual sport. People in the world today have very distorted perceptions of their world – if they don’t understand it, they fear it and want it to go away. I also found this book to be very current with the recent vote on gays in the military. Hey- gays have been serving in the military for a long time – they just kept it low key and believe me, if it’s in the military, it’s in sports and offices.
Mr. Chin has an excellent way of including thought-provoking storylines that address current events. He gives readers the opportunity to see what the homosexual community goes up against on a daily basis and sometimes provides possible solutions to how homosexuals and heterosexuals can compromise. We don’t always have to agree with others lifestyles, but we should at least keep an open mind and learn more before we make judgments.
I have used Mr. Chin’s books on gays and lesbians for discussion in my college psychology classes – “Match Maker” has been added for discussion. I have even taken some of his characters and made case studies for my students. Each of Chin’s books is a learning opportunity.