Book Review: Holding Serve


holding serveThis is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelves for years. I mean years. Probably since it was published in the UK in 2003. Ever since not quite making it to the top of the pile (a bit like Michael Chang who rose as high as no.2 in the world). It’s one of those books that I decided to read because it won’t make the move with me to Sweden. But now having read it, what to make of it?

First of all, this is not a very well written book. For that I put most of the blame on Mike Yorkey whose job I take it to be to craft something readable, but it feels, well, not well edited.

However fortunately that didn’t get in the way of appreciating the remarkable achievements of Michael Chang on the tennis court. He was a great player, grand slam winner and top ten player for a long time. This sporting success is remarkable even though it was relayed with little drama.

Thirdly, Michael Chang is a very good man. His moral life is exemplary and this is interesting because ‘good’ does not always equal ‘interesting’ when it comes to a biography. Michael has integrity and respect and so refused to talk about his former girlfriends. He was, at time of writing, a virgin so no sexual escapades and he neither did drugs, drink or hijinks. He was a committed family member and a committed Christian who supported various missionary and charitable causes, but for modesty reasons declined to talk about them. Which is good, but again not very interesting. And I find fishing very dull, the thought of it dull and the writing about it dull. Which is unfortunate because it’s one of his great passions after Christ, tennis and his family.

So this lack of ‘interesting things’ made interesting writing even more of a necessity. Oh well. However, Chang’s deep faith, integrity and commitment to Christ does make him a role model, and an excellent one at that. I absolutely have a deep respect for his on court achievements and the character which he developed.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was the insight into his Asian upbringing which instilled respect, discipline, hard work, close-knit loyalty and sacrifice into him. Not something I see everyday in many western families.

So a dilemma, the subject matter is highly commendable and the writing is just about OK. If you like tennis and you want to read about how Christian convictions are no obstacle at the very peak of a major sport then read it. For a gripping biography, then this is not the book to choose.

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