Mrs. Smith gives Mark an old wooden tennis racket. It comes at just the right time, because Mark is getting tired of soccer.
She tells him to practice so he can become the next Arthur Ashe.
Mark admits he doesn't think he can be as good as Arthur Ashe. And he wonders how any black man can be as good as a white man in sports.
He starts playing tennis in Alexandra by himself. He liked the fact that it was a solitary sport, dependent only on his ability and perseverance. He had heard that tennis was available at some of the black colleges in the country, but wondered if he would ever go to college.
One night while reading Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Mark makes his decision.
Mark tells his mother that he's going to leave school when he's done with Standard Six. He wants to help her.
Mama protests, saying that he can only get a factory job if he leaves school, and doesn't he dream of being a teacher or a doctor?
And of course, Mark doesn't want to drop out of school. He wants to go to college. But it hurts to watch how badly his mother struggles just to feed the family. He could at least help his younger siblings reach their dreams.
But Mama insists that he stay in school. Mark wants to know where she's going to get the money. I don't know, she says, but if she has to break her back working, she will find the money.
They finally compromise. If Mark earns a First Class pass, then he'll continue on to school. Otherwise, he'll quit and start working at the factories.
Because Mark can't find part-time jobs, he ends up playing tennis more and more. And the longer he played, the more he dreamed about what he could do if he could play tennis.
One day a Colored (mixed-race) man watched Mark practice at the courts. He started to give him advice. His name was Scaramouche and he was one of the best Colored tennis players in all of Johannesburg. He decided to be Mark's coach.