Levels of the Game is a narrative of a tennis match played by Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner at Forest Hills, Queens, in 1968, beginning with the ball rising into the air for the initial serve and ending with the final point.
In between, McPhee provides a brilliant, stroke-by-stroke description of the match while also examining the backgrounds and attitudes which have molded the players' games. Arthur Ashe thinks that Clark Graebner, a middle-class white conservative dentist's son from Cleveland, Ohio, plays stiff and compact Republican tennis. Graebner acknowledges that this is true, and for his part thinks that, because Ashe is black and from Richmond, Virginia, Ashe's tennis game is bold, loose, liberal, flat-out Democratic.
When physical assets are about equal, psychology is paramount to any game.
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Levels of the Game
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LEVELS OF THE GAMEArthur Ashe, his feet apart, his knees slightly bent, lifts a tennis ball into the air. The toss is high and forward. If the ball were allowed to drop, it would, in Ashe's words, "make a parabola and drop to the grass three feet in front of the baseline." He has practiced tossing a tennis ball just so thousands of times. But he is going to hit this one. His feet draw together. His body straightens and tilts forward far beyond the point of balance. He is falling. The force of gravity and a muscular momentum from legs to arm compound as he whips his racquet