PW #217: YA Contemporary: GAME FACE
Mentor Name: Emily Martin
Mentee Name: Taryn Bashford
Title: GAME FACE
Word Count: 82,000
When a losing streak shakes her confidence, seventeen-year-old tennis pro Harper clings to something more certain—her sister’s ex. But training with rising star Colt becomes a game-changer, and Harper must let go of her emotional crutches or risk losing her sister, true love, and the US Open.
The dining room is where the ghosts and monsters play. That’s what Jacob said when we were five, necks curling around the half open door, our eyes blurting fright. On a dare, we’d tiptoe into the room, dash around the table then jump through the French windows into the garden, screaming with delighted terror. Twelve years on, it’s still my least favorite room in the house. Maybe that’s because it’s where the recent pep talks have taken place; the grandfather clock seems to count down the seconds to the end of life as I know it.
So when Dad and Coach Kominsky invite me to join them at the dining table, the cream-cushioned chairs imprinted with the bums of Jacob’s make-believe ghosts, I wrap my arms around my chest, respond with a brisk, “I’ll stay standing, thanks.”
“There’s not an easy way to say this Harper,” says ‘Killer’ Kominsky in his clipped Czech accent. He smoothes a hand over his perfectly round shaved head, no freckle or bump daring to blemish it. “So I just speak the words. It is time for me to move on. I do not believe you are good enough to make it to the top.”
The ground falls upwards. My chest squeezes.
I contemplate leaping out the window, but after all the sacrifices I’ve made—summers at the beach, friendships that held me together, even letting the bond with my sister crack—tennis is who I am. I have to change Kominsky’s mind.