"Tennis Mom" by Huan Hsu - interesting fictional short story


In the John Wertheim's 9-23-09 mailbag for si.com, he featured a nice short story from theliteraryreview.com, THE LITERARYREVIEW: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY WRITING, Summer 2009 Vol. 52/No. 4.

On Page 82 begins "Tennis Mom" by Huan Hsu.

For those who would take the time, I found it a rather interesting and thought provoking read.

Here's the link to the PDF.

Just curious to what others' reactions to the story might be.......


Good story. Really good! Dunno what to say about it though... Hmm...

I bet most of us have seen or been part of similar stuff (either as player, parent or tournament director) many times.

About the only thing that didn't feel 100% (for me) was the portrait of Oscar. Had he been real (being a guy that's been around a long time) he probably already would have known about the "ways" of that mother of the "star" player, Anne, and probably would have kept an eye on that match as soon as it was obvious it was going to be a close match. That's typically when they transform from "friendly and socializing" into "win-at-all-costs!" and the small manipulations start to come out of their mouths or ways of acting (trying to distract their kids opponent or give tips to their kids)...

I also feel for the other mother. A difficult situation since she's not really "into" tennis and isn't 100% sure of what to do in different situations. This happens to be one of my pet peeves - I think it's really bad that it is the parents traveling with the kids during the first years - the kids really need someone that _knows_ tennis going with them during their tournaments - and someone that isn't afraid to tell the kids when they are doing wrong things. It's not really sane to expect parents without extensive tennis knowledge to enforce tennis rules into the kids...


In the end I thought that the true villain was the mother, the narrator of the story.

If she knew fair well that her son was hooking the other kid, no matter who the other kid was, I'd not have just let it slide. Even giving her son the impression that his behavior was acceptable. The writer keeping it vague is great......

It's the half-attempts to get her son to make the correct calls, and even knowing that the incident at the end happened and not doing anything about it is an injustice. Not just in sportsmanship, but in life in general.

If it were me, I'd have had to own up. Even on behalf of my son, intervening if need be to the tournament director. It may (or may not) cost the match, but winning in that manner is truly a loss.


imo the ending is inconsistent w/ Lucy's character throughout the story. The last sentence should've read:

"I squeeze my son again and we walk over to the car and drive home"


I think the apparent contradiction is what makes it a good read (or at least interestingly irritating).

A "tennis mom" isn't just the crazies. It's also the ones that passively permit or condone what happens in the story.


On the other hand if she spoke up too loudly, she was accused of cheating. So what to do? The story basically makes kids tennis sound like a miserable pit. :p