Season 2011 – Table of Contents

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Thank you for checking out Love Game.
Since publishing the first version here on wordpress I have edited it for a Kindle eBook. I’ve compressed the storylines, worked on the characters and hunted down every spelling mistake. Was a lot of work but it was worth it and I would be very happy if you give it a shot.


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01 Ready? Play! (Perth)

Elise is on her way to Australia, Lynn checks the net height, Ted and Robyn fancy a hot dog & Amanda is distracted by a blonde in the crowd

02 Mother’s Finest (Brisbane)

Paola is late for her interview, the Ozolini twins are up to no good, Martina and Andrea share a locker room moment & Monica and Agathe are calling a special match

03 Eavesdropping On The Heart (Melbourne)

Sasha hides in the bathroom, Elise hides in the jungle, Gemma and Robyn wait for Aussie kisses & there’s an Australian/German encounter in the hotel corridor

04 Revelations (Melbourne)

Lulu wants to get fitter, Amanda is sighted with a famous singer, Sasha is back in the game & Tom takes a momentous picture that will change his life

05 A Change is Gonna Come (Indian Wells)

Sasha wonders about the twins, the Ozolinis have to battle it out on the court, Amanda tries to get serious & Elise tries to be brave

06 Keeping Up with The Januses (Charleston)

Amanda is having no fun on her birthday, Elise unsuccessfully tries to watch a film with Angela, Sasha sees the daylight & Tom is having an idea

07 Ad Ventures and Break Points (Stuttgart)

Elise is all for team work lately, Morgana is becoming a Tennis Nurse sleuth, Sasha is becoming a Ozolini sleuth & Amanda’s cheek is burning and keeps her awake

08 When In Rome… (Rome)

Amanda receives wake-up texts, Ted is having a night out with Tom and the girls, Morgana and Sasha make a deal & Gabriella makes an unusual locker discovery

09 De Point En Point (Paris)

Elise tries to concentrate on the ball, Amanda gets good coaching advise, Tom is becoming everyone’s big brother & Gaga will be Lulu – but not only on the court

10 Serving A Love Game (Paris)

Luella is stalked by Sasha, Elise is having a bad day at the office, Lana’s ex-boyfriend’s flowers come in handy & Amanda serves out her match with an ace

11 On A Secret Mission (Eastbourne)

Morgana is on a bus ride to Brighton, Tom makes a list, Elise falls asleep & Anastasia and Sasha are having no morning glory

12 Dog & Fox (Wimbledon)

Elise is having a good day at the office, Gabriella leaves the Ozolini house, Amanda holds hands in a public place & Sasha tries to concentrate on tennis for a change

13 Let’s Have A Ball (Wimbledon)

Ted is unhappy with Tom’s blogging, Lulu and Gaga become Gaga and Lulu once more, Sasha knows nobody won a Grand Slam today & Amanda and Elise skip the broom cupboard

14 Double Trouble (Stanford)

Elise is looking for the right moment, Tom is love sick, Amanda falls out of the Top 10 & Gemma and Robyn feed the rumour mill

15 Beneath The Moon and Under The Stars (Cincinnati)

Mint should have her gaydar checked, Amanda and Elise order strawberries, Tom is doing research & Sasha enjoys the union of peanut butter and coconut cream

16 Between The Lines (New York)

Elise and Angela watch a tie break, Ted makes a decision, Sam gets offers for code violations & Amanda moves pretty well for a dead person

17 Break, Make and Hold (New York)

Ted takes a plunge, Mint and Chili make it a hot night in New York City, Sasha is worried by a proposal and a picture & Amanda earns it

18 Have Your Body Serve and Eat It, Too (Tokyo)

Morgana serves Agathe a blowfish, Natsumi is far from being harmless, Angela and Stephanie discuss rumours & Amanda is dining in a special sushi restaurant

19  Walking A Fine Line (Luxembourg)

Mint has some pictures developed, Gaga is giving an interview, Andrea and Martina find a brown envelope & Elise likes Amanda’s hair in the sunlight

20 Blood, Punch & Tears (Istanbul)

Sasha is knocked out, Tom is knocked out, Andrea and Martina don’t feel bad about it & Lynn is queen once again

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20 Blood, Punch & Tears

 

Somewhere outside a muzzin called for prayer and Sasha checked her watch. The singing had woken her up at night and she couldn’t go back to sleep again. It wasn’t the jetlag this time. She had started worrying again about the picture and only three hours later she had fallen into a fitful sleep.
While lying awake she had made a decision and after getting up in the morning had called Jaro. He was in training in Great Britain but had promised to call her back as soon as he got out of the shower.
She checked her watch again. What time was it in Britain?
She walked to the window and looked outside. The Bosporus looked like a wide grey ocean, bleak and cold. Sasha shivered. When her telephone rang she jumped, but picked it up immediately.

“What was taking you so long,” she snapped, but then reminded herself that she needed Jaro.
“Listen,” she purred. “I told you about this photo print I received. I think I know who took it.”
Jaro was listening. When Sasha had told him about the picture he had not taken it seriously in the beginning but had understood that it could become an issue for himself, too. If Sasha ‘s gay rumors would surface again, rumors about himself were only a matter of time.
“I’m not hundred percent sure, however,” Sasha continued. “We need to follow him and find out.”
“We?” Sasha could hear Jaro smile.
“Well, I have to play some tennis, of course,” she grinned. “But after that I will help you!”
Over the last couple of months they had become good friends and confidants, respectful of their efforts in their respective sports. The marriage proposal had put Sasha off in the beginning, but she was willing to reconsider it.

“I’ll take the next flight to Istanbul,” Jaro offered. “Send me a picture of this guy, so I can study his face.”
Sasha agreed and hung up. During the player party last night she had taken a picture of Tom Richardson with her mobile and she forwarded it to Jaro immediately.
She checked her watch again. Only thirty minutes until she would meet her team for the pre-match practice session. Her racquet bag was already packed but she checked it another time.
Just when she was about to shoulder it, her phone rang again. It was Jaro.
“I’ve met this guy,” he blurted out. “When I visited you in Rome I went to this gay bar. And there he was. We had a little chat in the bathroom over some lotion?”
“You had a chat over some lotion?” Sasha was confused. “Is that some code for something gay guys do in public bathrooms?” Jaro laughed.

“No, he was actually being very nice,” he admitted thinking back to the encounter, but then he became serious. “He might have recognized me though.”
“I dare say you are right,” Sasha nodded gravely. “He is one of the media guys and he must have seen us around the tournament site or taken pictures of us during the party. So when he saw you in the gay club he must have come to the conclusion that there was something false about our relationship.” She sighed. There was no use in blaming Jaro for being incautious. Instead they had to do something.
“Don’t come to the hotel,” she said. “Come to the courts. We’ll meet after my match.”
They hung up and Sasha stuffed the phone into her pocket. She was late already. Picking up her bags she remembered something. She went back to the bedside and opened her travel case that lay on the floor next to the night stand. On top of her laptop was the brown envelope that caused so much disconcertment.
She grabbed it and put it into her racquet bag to later show it to Jaro.

19 Walking a fine line

“These are the locker rooms,” Candice said opening the door and stepped inside. She turned around to Alice, the young woman who had followed her. “The showers are over here. You will make sure that each player has fresh towels at their lockers and of course will clean up used towels and trash.”
Candice sighed. A clean locker room was a formidable sight. Only in the days before the tournament and in the early morning was it as clean as she liked it to be. She really had a great staff, but it couldn’t cope with the mess the players made every single day.
“Take a good look at it now. In two days you will not recognize it again,” she said to the young woman, who laughed.
“I know,” Alice said. “I would have never thought that people can mess up a place so quickly.”

Walking through the locker room into the hallway that led to the cord, Candice glanced over to the girl next to her. Alice had wandered into Candice office and applied for the job in Luxembourg only an hour ago, and usually Candice did not accept any new employers at the last minute, but two of her staff members had called in sick this morning and Luxembourg was a small tournament and therefore easily manageable, so she decided to give the young woman a chance. Moreover, Alice had already worked for the French Open earlier this year and even though Candice had no explicit memory of the French girl she must have made a very positive impression, at least to Amanda Auster.
Along with her résumé came a recommendation full of praise by the Australian player and her management. It sounded as if Alice had rescued Amanda with a “special service”?
Entering the Center Court through the player’s entrance and pointing out the player’s and corporate boxes she watched the woman who inspected everything with thorough attentiveness.

“So what did you do for Amanda? Did you bring her chocolate in the middle of the night?”
Alice turned around.
“Flowers,” she laughed. “She needed a bouquet as soon as possible. And I gave her the flowers Lana Uzilenko’s disappointed ex-lover had left at the help desk earlier.”
Candice cracked up laughing. She suddenly remembered what Agathe had told her in the summer. That Elise had been taken to the infirmary after her knee gave her problems at the French Open and that Amanda had shown up with flowers. Agathe and her had had good fun imagining Amanda clandestinely plucking flowers from Court Suzanne Lenglen’s corporate boxes for her new love interest. Now it turned out that Amanda and Elise’s love story had quite a different beginning. How hilarious was it that flowers, intended for Lana, the biggest drama queen of the WTA had landed in the hands of shy Amanda Auster and had resulted in a dinner invitation that had changed two people’s life?

Candice shook her head in amazement. Life – and flowers – took some interesting turns sometimes. They walked back to the office and turning a corner almost bumped into Tom Richardson.
“Tom,” Candice smiled. “Good that we meet you. This is Alice. She will work with us for the week.”
They introduced each other and seeing that Tom was carrying his heavy camera bags, Candice suggested that Alice could start right away by helping Tom shoot some footage of the tournament grounds.
With an excited nod Alice took one of Tom’s bags, shouldered it and followed him outside. Candice watched the young people chat until they disappeared behind a corner. She really began to like Alice and with the season coming to an end and some of her staff members leaving the team she had to take into consideration recruiting new team members. Opening the door to her office, Candice decided to wait until the end of the week and if Alice turned out to be a good worker she would offer her a permanent job on the tour.

18 Have your body serve and eat it, too

“Next year we will figure out a schedule that suits both of us,” Elise said smiling from the screen. Amanda sat in front of her computer and nodded. She missed Elise. They barely had had any time to themselves since Amanda won the US Open. The new champion was in constant demand by TV stations and newspapers who wanted to run stories on her and her win. Since she returned back home to Australia it had even gotten more.
Tokyo seemed like a welcome peace after all the tightly scheduled days before.
“Should be easy with your ranking now,” Amanda contemplated. Elise had entered the Top 20 just before the Open due to her good run in the US Open series and would end the year on a career high.
Just when they wanted to start talking about the tournaments they would play Amanda’s mobile rang. She checked the number.

“Some European number,” she wondered. Who could that be?
But as soon as she had answered the phone she wished she hadn’t.
“Amanda,” Ted Curry’s voice sounded pressed. “I’m so glad I finally reached you!”
“I’m in Tokyo, Ted.” Amanda looked at her computer screen. Elise was waiting on the other end. “This will cost you a fortune, so you better make this short.”
“I don’t care how much it costs,” Ted said. “I wanted to tell you something, but you were so busy in New York and unavailable.”
“I was busy winning a grand slam, Ted.”
“Yes, yes,” he said apologetically. “Congratulations, by the way. But this is more important.”

Amanda looked over to Elise and shrugged her shoulders.
“The files I took from Tom’s computer,” Ted continued. “They are gone. I lost them.”
“You lost them?” Amanda was getting annoyed. All the drama and climbing through hotel room windows in vain?
“It must have happened when I jumped from the window sill. Or perhaps when I was running outside,” Ted contemplated. “ You were not there, so I had to take a taxi. I could have lost it in there. I was so stressed-out.”
“You mean, anybody or nobody could have the files now?”
“Yes,” Ted answered. “Anybody.”
“So, were they as riské as you thought they would be.” Amanda had to admit, she never really believed Tom was gathering evidence, as Ted had called it. Why would he wanted to harm the players? He worked for them, after all.

“Yes, yes.” Ted’s voice broke into sobs. Amanda couldn’t believe it.
“Listen, Ted,” she finally said. “I’m on the phone with Elise.” Let’s talk about this another time. Doesn’t have to be the case that someone found your memory stick. It probably just got lost and no one has it.”
“Yes,” Ted was still crying. Amanda hated to leave him like that, but Elise was waiting on the video call giving her questioning looks. After saying good-bye to Ted she turned to Elise again, shaking her head.
“So, he lost the evidence,” she stated. “Not that I believe there was any. He’s just a bit paranoid because Tom likes him.”
“Tom?” Elise was surprised. “I was wondering about that since Ted said Tom was stalking him. That’s ridiculous. He is so nice.”
“I know,” Amanda replied. “They would actually make a cute couple, what do you think?”
“Yes,” Elise grinned. “We should set them up somehow.”

17 Break, make and hold

“We need to hurry,” Ted yelled over his shoulder and waved to Amanda to come. She shook her head but followed the British player.
“I don’t even understand why you need me?” Amanda growled. But Ted didn’t answer. He was busy looking for a certain room. Judging from the greyish walls it was a cheap hotel. One of these accommodations Ted himself had to stay in during the early years of his career. However, it was not far from Flushing Meadows which was the reason several lower ranked players had chosen it. But a day before the women’s final most of them had left already. Amanda and Ted didn’t need to worry to be seen. Ted stopped in front of a door. He had taken out a key.
“How did you get the key for his room?” Amanda looked shocked. But Ted shook his head.
“It’s not his,” he said when he stepped inside the dark room. “That’s why I need you.”
He crossed the room and opened he window.

“His room is right under here. I waited all week for the room next door to become available but it didn’t work out. He always leaves the window open, you see?” Amanda stared at him while he climbed on the window sill. She shook her head, still not understanding.
“You have to let me down to his window,” Ted explained in a last attempt to motivate Amanda.
“I wholeheartedly disagree with this idea, Ted.”
“You can thank me later, when you see all the evidence.”
Carefully, he slipped over the sill while facing Amanda. When he hung down only holding on to the sill, she took his hands and slowly let him down inch by inch until he touched the window sill on the lower floor.
“You have to go downstairs and warn me if he comes back,” Ted said without lifting his head. Before Amanda could protest, he had slipped inside Tom’s room.

Tom’s bags were tidily heaped in one corner of the room. On the left nightstand was one of his cameras and battery chargers. But Ted headed straight to the other side of the bed. He sat down and grabbed Tom’s notebook. Ted was sure Tom would keep all the information in here. When the computer asked for a password he frowned. Why hadn’t he thought about it? Frantically he typed several words to no avail. After trying every possible combination of 30 Love he was just about to give up but gave one word a last try: Teddybear. He felt a bit foolish to type down the nickname Tom had used. But as soon as he hit the Enter the window magically opened.
Ted was touched by the fact that even after two month Tom still seemed to care for him. Why else would he still use this password.
But there was no time to wonder about Tom’s feelings now. Ted pulled out a memory stick from his pants and plugged it into the notebook. After a little search he found the file which contained Tom’s mischievous doings. They were all filed under the players’ names and Ted was surprised to see how much evidence Tom had gathered since they had broken up. He had been busy taking photos of several high profile couples in the WTA and even the ATP.

Waiting for the files to be moved he was startled by the buzz of his mobile. Amanda was calling.
“What?” Ted answered the phone.
“He just exited the elevator,” Amanda said pressed. “You need to leave the room now.”
Ted hung up. The computer showed that it would still need 23 seconds to move the last files. He jumped up and raced to the door. Opening it slowly he peeped outside and his heart almost made a jump. Tom was just coming around the corner. Ted hurried back to the computer, decided he could do without the remaining files, pulled out the memory stick and shut the notebook. After placing it exactly how he had found it, he sprinted to the window. When he was standing outside he looked up but Amanda was not there. Why did she take so long from the other floor? In the same moment he knew the answer already. He could feel the door key in the pocket of his pants. He had forgotten to give it to her.
Then he could hear Tom’s key in the door. Looking around he realized there was only one way out – and that was down.

16 Between the lines

Leaving the media area Sasha exhaled slowly. It had been hard work to explain where her serve had gone during the second set, which she had lost eventually to Gemma Heffington, the young and upcoming British player. But she had managed to come thought her third round match in the end, winning the third set convincingly with 6-2 against the more inexperienced player.
But the absence of her serve was frightening. Of course, it had never been the same since her injury two years ago, but today the double faults had a different reason.
As much as she had tried since Cincinnati to avoid the Ozolini twins, this morning she had bumped into one of them in the Flushing Meadows. For a while now, the twin sisters were not seen together that much anymore, which made the initial moment of contact even more awkward as Sasha couldn’t say whether it was Gaga or Lulu. Together they were much more easily to distinguish.

On the way to the gym Sasha had looked down on the ground, carrying her sports bag and listening to music over her earbugs when suddenly someone came around the corner and collided with her head-on.
They both cussed in surprise, but when Sasha realized who she had bumped into she breathed in sharply.
“Lulu?” Sasha stared at the twin with wide-open eyes who looked back curiously.
“No,” the Ozolini said curiously. “I’m Gabriella.”
Sasha laughed with relief.
“Are you going to the gym?” Gabriella asked. She herself had a bag over her shoulders revealing her own destination. Sasha nodded and Gabriella flashed her a smile gesturing to go there together.

But Sasha didn’t move. Even though it was a relief that this wasn’t Lulu she didn’t feel at ease at all.
Did Gaga knew that Lulu liked girls? And if so would Lulu have told Gaga about the nightly incident at the vending machine? Probably, since they were twin sisters. Meaning there was a good chance Gaga knew about Sasha. Would she talk to other people about it. Was she gay herself? She hung out a lot with Elise lately. But then again these two hung out with Morgana, so Gaga was probably not gay but only a book worm like Elise and Morgana. Or maybe, Sasha thought, it had not been Gaga at all in the hotel talking to Elise and Morgana, but Lulu. Why hadn’t she thought about this possibility?
She looked up but Gabriella had finally run ahead to the gym.
Sasha sighed. When she entered the gym she looked for Gaga. The Ozolini twin was training in the middle of the huge hall, so Sasha decided to go to the back and hide behind one of the red square columns.

Since the night in Cincinnati she was completely lost in the Ozolini mystery again. But it had taken a bitter-sweet turn now. She not only wanted to know what was going on with the twin for reasons related to tennis. She wanted to know because she had enjoyed what had happened.
Everything had been like a sweven. Almost unreal in hindsight. Only the taste of peanut butter left in her mouth made her believe that it actually happened.
Sasha had tried to remind herself, that she didn’t like Luella. But she couldn’t deny that the kiss had unfurled desires she had subdued for her career’s sake. If Lulu hadn’t vanished all of a sudden they would have probably spend the night together. She had to admit, she liked the thought. She even had to admit, that more than once her mind went wandering and she imagined herself with the dark-haired beauty.
Suddenly exhausted from racking her brains, she stepped from the treadmill. What was going on with her? Sasha shook her head. Before she could figure out the Ozolini mystery, she obviously had to figure out herself.

15 Beneath the Moon or Under the Sun

With her racquet bag on her shoulders, Gabriella Ozolini left the locker rooms and made her way through the large corridor that led to the players’ central lobby. Hitting some balls with other players than her sister had turned out to be extremely pleasing and the fear of alienating herself from Lulu too much, too soon was now slowly fading away to her relief. Obviously, the changes she had decided to stick to in Stanford were paying off. Yes, everything would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the current draw.
Two days ago the Cincinnati draw had been done. And it caused sleepless nights for Gabriella. Stopping for the thousandth time in front of the large draw board that had been set up next to the computer room, Gaga went slowly through all the names.
Cincinnati was one of the last tournaments before the US Open. In one word, a tournament the players wanted to shine in.

After quite a few years on tour, Gaga had become an expert in analyzing a draw. She didn’t need the help of her coach or a team to figure out who she might meet in the third round or a quarter final. She was better analyzing potential match ups than most of the players which was due to the pact she had played with Luella. Her eyes stopped on her sister’s name. Lulu would have to beat two easy opponents in the first two rounds. And if she won, which was very likely she would have to play Sasha in the third round.
“Damn,” Gaga said to herself. Every time she had followed the branches of the trees she was still shocked. That was exactly the kind of scenario that Gabriella needed to avoid at all cost. Sasha’s words, after they had played the Wimbledon final, still rang in her ears.
I know your little secret, Sasha had said. In sleepless nights during her brief vacation she had figured out that Sasha thought Lulu was gay. It was hilarious to imagine that anyone could believe Lulu was into girls and bearding with Raphael. But standing in front of the wicked draw again, Gabriella couldn’t laugh.

There must be a solution, she thought. Of course, she could simply pick up the Ozolini Pact again and play for Lulu. She was sure, when it came to playing Sasha her twin sister would be more than happy if Gaga offered to play the Czech. But she didn’t want to give in to her new independence. How was she supposed to break free from Luella if she played Sasha this tournament. She had to stay strong.
Out of frustration she gave the wall a little kick.
“You don’t like the draw,” a voice behind her announced.
Gabriella whirled around. It was Tom. She gave him a quick smile but shook her head.
“Well, everyone is looking forward to a potential rematch of the Wimbledon final,” Tom smiled. Gaga realized that he mistook her for Luella.
“Sure,” she shrugged, then turned around and walked away without another word, knowing that he thought he was talking to Luella for whom such a behavior was normal.

Gabriella stepped out of the players’ area and looked up at the sky. It was a cloudless day, perfect and warm. The sun was blinding. A gorgeous Indian summer announced itself in America. She took a long, deep breath then closed her eyes. She had to calm down! A few seconds flew away.
Perhaps Lulu screwed up and lost in the earlier rounds. Perhaps the anticipated match between Lulu and Sasha and a possible meeting in the locker rooms would never happen.
Gabriella swallowed hard. No, her twin sister had the perfect draw for the first two rounds. A qualifier and another player ranked beyond the Top 50.
She began walking across the grass area to the parking lot, but then straightened her back and cocked her chin into the air before resolutely stepping out onto the pavement.
There was no way Lulu was going to meet Sasha alone in a locker room. No way.