Crystal Hubbard first met Arthur Ashe when she was eight years old. Although she didn't play tennis, she eventually developed a love of the sport--one that prompted her to write this stunning biography of the first African American man to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe begins in the early 1950s when tennis facilities in Virginia were segregated. A young boy named Arthur used to watch one of the top black college tennis players practice and he watched him so much that the player, Ron Charity, eventually asked Arthur if he'd like to learn to play. When Arthur replied, "Yes, I would," I'm sure nobody expected what was to come.
Arthur started winning, and his confidence grew. By the time Arthur was ten, he was ready for more extensive coaching and he spent his summers at a tennis camp at the home of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson in Lynchburg, Virginia. By Arthur's senior year of high school, Arthur moved to St. Louis, so he could play tennis all year. He competed against top players and was one of the first to use the aggressive style that came to be known as "serve-and-volley." Arthur earned a scholarship to UCLA and won his first grand slam event in 1968.
At twenty-five, he was the number one player in the U.S. and the only elite black player. He then went on to have a grueling match against Jimmy Connors, the number one player in the world and defending Wimbledon Champ. But it was Arthur who defeated Connors, becoming the first African American man to win Wimbledon
This is a stunning portrait of a man who broke barriers in the tennis world. It teaches young readers not only about the life and perseverance of Arthur Ashe, but it also teaches them how wrong and hurtful it was to be separated because of one's race. The illustrations by Kevin Belford put readers right on the court as balls are certain to sail past them and an afterword and chronology of Ashe's life at the end stress how Ashe fought to overcome adversity and opened doors in his sport. A must have for any sports lover.
Read a Booktalk with Author, Crystal Hubbard
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (September 30, 2010)
Source of review copy: Publisher
This post is part of Nonfiction Monday! Nonfiction Monday takes place every Monday as various blogs throughout the kidlitosphere write about nonfiction books for kids and collect them all in one place. This week, check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Practically Paradise. To see the entire schedule, please visit the website of Anastasia Suen.