Disclaimer: I do not own the Prince of Tennis.


Sakuno breathes out and spins the handle of her racket with her sweaty, calloused hands. Her usually flimsy doe eyes narrow and focus on her opponent at the other end of the court. The deafening cheers and screams fall mute to her ears. Even the ceaseless drumming in her chest fails to reach her. To the girl, there is nothing but the neon tennis ball bouncing quickly from her opponent's hand to the hot clay ground, and back.

Pok

Pok

Pok, it went.

She breathes out again. A single tear of sweat trickles down the side of her sun-kissed face.

Then, with a raise of a hand, the ball flew to the sky, nearly covering the shape of the morning sun, and is quickly hit to her direction in one graceful and fluid motion.

In that same instant, Sakuno is off to her feet; the ball entering her side of the court. She grunted as she caught it squarely on the sweetspot of her racket - the ball spinning sharp and fast into the opposite end of the court, expertly garnering her first win in the day's tournament.

Cries exploded and she looks to the crowd in a dazed expression, one of disbelief more than tire.

Overwhelmed, she loses herself in the moment; deafened by the sea of cheers and applause. Behind her, a large hand rests on her shoulder and makes her turn. Doe eyes find sharp almond ones coupled with a boyish smirk. The handsome young man's lips part; and he utters in his odd blend of pride and condescension, a congratulatory yet coy "Mada mada dane."

She starts smiling even as he said this, knowing fully well how far they've come. Today's win, she'd like to believe, was the start of many.


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The Boy Who Stands Still

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TBC.

Basic facts, before story-reveal:

Manga!Sakuno, Aged 17 (Birthday on Jan 14), Attending 3rd-Year of High School, member of the tennis club, good school grades, looking to get into university, is on the her first game in the finals (one of the final eight) after winning in the eliminations, Ryoma started coaching her only when he got back to Tokyo after his win - prepping her for her first game in the finals round.

Ryoma, Aged 16 (Birthday is on the 24 December - no year, decided for him to be born the same year as Sakuno), homeschool-ed or taking a one-year break for the competition he just won, youngest Grand Slam title holder, popularity spiked after his win although he was already popular internationally before (during his debut in the professional field), lives in LA, California and decided to visit Tokyo a few weeks after his win, after things settled.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

I know. Re-writing AGAIN. You don't have to read it again. The tone and the overall plot is still the same. I've just never been satisfied with my execution. I want to honor the message of the story with good writing. So, here I am, editing the story for the nth time. The only good thing about this is that this is going to be my last edit. I swear. I've all the material for the story. And I've fixed the progression. It's way WAY WAYYY better now. The scenes make more sense. The romance and heartbreak is more - crisp. And the *twist* is more painful and tender.

Some of the scenes I've written prior felt forced. The dialogue too. Especially given the background of the story. And the ending - I didn't like the ending. Not one bit. It was OK. But at the end of the day, I wasn't satisfied with it.

Ryoma and Sakuno's characters will be more pronounced in this edit. Tomoka and Kaidoh's relationship will be given more limelight. And Momoshiro's side story is now better integrated into the fic. I've removed a bunch of scenes that didn't seem to go with the story. And I'm having a different ending all together.

I really like this story a whole lot because of how real it is. Insecurity is no joke. Coming of age is a gut-wrenching yet beautiful process.

If you're a new reader, welcome and enjoy the fic! It's not a fluffy fic where you have one-dimensional characters. This will be a rollecoaster ride of coming of age. And I'm rather excited.

Thanks for dropping by,

KenRik.