John R. Tunis Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mr. Tunis's champion [Janet Johnson in "Champion's Choice"] is his first heroine, a tennis star who scaled the heights of Wimbledon, and stayed there, not by technique and strength only but, as a champion must, by knowing how to call on the last ounce of fighting spirit….

Her first victory at Wimbledon, where she perceived that tennis was a contest of character as well as skill, came early…. From then on Janet … became almost more champion than she was human being…. She was a sports-manlike fighter and a smart one, but she was also a hard-boiled one, until … she realized there were other things in life more desirable than tennis honors.

It is not an entirely glamorous picture that Mr. Tunis has drawn of the tennis world, and therefore all the more worth considering. He does not get as close to the workings of Janet's mind as he did with "The Kid from Tomkinsville," but he does let us see clearly the development of her ambition as well as her game, and young tennis enthusiasts will find in his swiftly detailed descriptions of hard-fought contests much of the technique and the very heart of the game's spirit at its best.

Ellen Lewis Buell, "The Young Tennis Champion," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1941 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 2, 1941, p. 10.