Tennis champion Seles draws on her experience as a teen athlete to launch a series set in an exclusive sports academy.
Maya Hart, a working-class teen from Syracuse, finally gets the prize she has worked tirelessly to achieve: a place at the world’s premier sports-training academy. Almost as soon as she arrives, though, she finds herself socially in over her head. There is a huge gulf between the scholarship students and the spoiled kids of privilege. All of the pluck Maya used to get to the Academy buckles when she runs afoul of the Academy’s star of tennis and endorsements, Nicole King. With the encouragement of her gutsy, punk-golfer roommate, she holds her ground, but she still needs the help of the owner’s son, Travis (and her biggest crush), to avoid expulsion. Despite her rocky start, it appears she and the upper echelon will bond, and she even moves into their storied “villa.” But Nicole has no plan to share her status. “There can only be one queen bee at the Academy. And it’s not you.” This is a series premise with a lot of potential: The world of high-stakes athletics and its impact on teens hungry to succeed is compelling. Unfortunately, there is not enough sports action to balance the “mean girls” intrigue.
Still, the premise will attract readers, and the cast of characters is varied and interesting enough to hold them. (Fiction. 12 & up)