"Trophy Son" (St. Martin's Press), by Douglas Brunt
Best-selling author Douglas Brunt writes about the world of professional tennis and the use of performance-enhancing drugs in his latest novel, "Trophy Son."
The narrative follows Anton Stratis throughout his career. From an adolescent kid with natural talent to a young man who has grown to be the best in the sport, Anton must dig deep in order to figure out if the celebrity status he's achieved is really what he wants in life.
Anton always knew he had something special on the tennis court. Although his father aggressively pushes him to the next level of greatness, Anton's instinctive reaction to the game makes him almost unbeatable. Anton's father surrounds his son with a team of men hired to take him all the way to No. 1 — no matter what the cost.
As Anton's game matures, so does his personality. He finally acknowledges that his father's unyielding training programs and firm rules are a distraction to his game and his newfound social life. Anton cuts his dad out of his professional life just as he explodes as an athlete to beat.
But as Anton travels the world year after year, the sport begins to take a toll on his body. His mental game suffers, too. Confused and impressed by the older competitors' stamina, Anton is shocked to learn that most players on the circuit use performance-enhancing drugs. In order to beat the pain and fatigue, Anton will have to make a choice: Should he enter into a gray area of the sport and even the playing field by popping pills?
"Trophy Son" is a fascinating look at what sporting professionals sacrifice in order to succeed and the uncomfortable truths about domineering parents, grueling schedules, physical suffering, emotional pain and moral compromises.