Leigh Anne - Chapter 18
By Barbara Lynn Terry
The next morning, after everybody was dressed and had their breakfast, Leigh packed her tennis outfits in an overnight case, and declared herself ready to go. Her dad went out to put the things in the trunk, and Leigh and her mother went out to the car. After sitting down and buckling up, Mr. Smythe started the car and they were off of to Midland.
Leigh was told by Mrs. Madison, that she would meet the team at the Midland Community Tennis Center. So, the entire Lady Tigers team, were on their way to practice for their vicotry at the state semi-finals and finals. They were going to practice the plays they only touched upon when they were practicing at Birn College. They would need this practice, because all the teams appearing in Jacksonville, were unbeaten. The Hampton Lady Tigers would have to be just a tad better than the rest of the schools they would be competing against.
On the way to Midland, Leigh and her mother talked, while her dad paid attention to the road.
“Mom, what if Gaynor shows up at the state competitions in Lansing, expecting to play?”
“Well, dear, the officials will have a list of competing schools. If Gaynor isn’t on that list, they won’t be able to play.”
“But, what if they pull what they did during the first part of the final game we played against them?”
“Don’t worry, dear, I will let your coach know what is going on. Right for now, though, put Gaynor out of your mind, and concentrate on the practice at hand. Don’t forget, your victory at state depends on whether you can concentrate on the game. Now, as for Gaynor, I will tell Mrs. Madison, what you told me about what happened at the mall.”
“Yes, mom. I may be worrying for nothing, but still …”
“But still, dear, you have got to put this out of your mind. If you keep thinking about Gaynor, you are going to be no good on the court, because your thoughts will be elsewhere. When we get to the Community Tennis Center in Midland, I want you to concentrate on your moves. Make believe your mind is a chalk board, and you are erasing what is on the board for a new lesson. The key word, Leigh, is concentrate.”
“You’re right, mom. I will concentrate. But if they show up at state …”
“There you go again. Apparently you didn’t erase the chalk board, because the same lesson from the last class is still there. Now, erase that Gaynor lesson, and write the new lesson that says ‘we’re going to take state, we’re going to take state’. Don’t worry about what Gaynor does or doesn’t do. Leave that up to me and Mrs. Madison. Your job as of right now, Leigh, is to concentrate on the practice at hand, and taking the state championship. Then when you are victorious at state, then you will play forty nine other teams from around the country, with the two most unbeaten teams playing against each other. Now when we get to the practice place, I want to see you concentrate.”
“Alright, mom, I will.”
They arrived at the Midland Community Tennis Center, and Mrs. Madison was already there. She saw Leigh and her parents drive up.
“Hello, Leigh, Mr. And Mrs. Smythe. We have the outside courts, since nobody is using them. Now, The MSU Tennis Center has hard surface courts, too. So, we will practice here, and our use of these courts is first come first serve. I am waiting for everybody else to get here. Patty and Darlene are here, with Patty’s mother. These practice sessions are for us to practice our lobs, spins, slams and aces. We need to concentrate on these particular plays, because some of the teams we will be playing at state, know these plays very well, and if we are not prepared, will not win the state trophy.
“Leigh, I’m going to get Patty and I want you to practice the first set with her. Then Darlene will play the winner of that set. We are going to play a full match each day, until we have these plays down pat.”
Leigh got out her racquet and can of balls, and started hitting the balls like she was serving. This practice helps tennis players so they make the least amount of unforced errors. Patty came out of the building and walked on to the court.
“Are you ready, Leigh?” Asked Patty.
“In just a moment, let me get my outer clothes off, so I can play in my tennis outfit.”
Leigh took off her shirt and light blue skirt. She was ready to play.
“Alright, Patty, I’m ready. Let’s see what we can do.”
Darlene came out of the building and sat along the side of the court. She was very interested to see how her team mates would hold up against the rest of the players from around the state. Leigh was not so egotistical as to think they were going to beat every team. But, she also knew if they lost one match, they would be on the way back home.
No, Leigh thought, we have to be good enough to get the state trophy. Then, we can concentrate on winning the national trophy. One trophy at a time, she thought.
“Alright, girls,” Mrs. Madison said, clapping her hands to get them going. “Leigh, you take the far side of the court. Patty, you take this side. Girls, you may practice for five minutes. After that I will blow on my whistle and you can begin the first game of the first set.
The two girls began their practice session, with Patty serving first. Leigh returned the ball, and Patty tried to spin it, but Leigh was fast enough to return just past the net. Patty wasn’t fast enough to return it.
“Love - 15,” called Mrs. Madison. “That is the way to play it, Leigh.”
Patty served her next ball, and the volley went for a few minutes, when Leigh lobbed it over the net for another point.
“Love - 30.”
Patty tried to hit an ace with her next serve, and got the point.
“That was a very good ace, Patricia.” Mrs. Madison blew on her whistle, and Leigh and Patty left the court. “The entire team is here, now, so there will be a division of teams. I want Leigh playing against Dorothy Winston, Darlene Haskins against Donna Sanchez, Patty Langston against Susan Winters, Colleen Sanders against Mary Whithers. I just want to refresh your memories, and tell you that we need to practice our aces, lobs, spins and slams. We need to get these four plays down. You can bet there will be other teams at state that will be using them.
“Leigh and Dorothy, please take take the court.” Leigh and Dorothy Winston took the court. Leigh was on the far side, and Dorothy was on the near side. “Dorothy, it is your serve. Remember what I said now, we must practice our aces. Lobs, spins and slams. Dorothy, you may serve when ready.”
Dorothy served the ball, and Leigh was quick enough to return it. The volley between the two girls lasted for four minutes, and Leigh lobbed the ball on to Dorothy’s side of the net, giving Leigh the first fifteen points.
“That was a good slam, Leigh. But, remember, if it looks like the ball is going to go over your head too high, let it go. Nine times out of ten, the ball will be called out. You may continue, Dorothy.”
Dorothy’s second serve was in, and the volley lasted almost ten minutes. Dorothy, trying to spin the ball, found Leigh fast enough to return it, using a spin of her own.
“Love - 30,” called Mrs. Madison. “That was a good spin, Leigh,”
However, Dorothy, taking her time, was eyeing Leigh’s side of the court. Dorothy served her third serve for an ace.
“15 - 30,” Mrs. Madison called out the score. “That is the way to play an ace, Dorothy. Continue.”
“Dorothy served again, this time it was called as a fault. She served her second ball, and this time it was returned, when Leigh returned it for another spin. Dorothy tried to hurry to return it, but it had bounced twice on her side of the net.
“15 - 40. That was another good spin, Leigh. Keep it up. Continue, Dorothy”
Dorothy served again, and this time the volley lasted for five minutes. Leigh had hit the ball just inside the line behind Dorothy.
“Game, Leigh Anne. Good game, girls. Leigh it is now your turn to serve. Let’s get a few slams in there. You have played one lob and that was a good one, but we need to see a few slams, also.”
Leigh served her first ball, and got the first fifteen points without even trying. Dorothy had hit the ball in to her side of the net.
“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called. “Pay attention, Dorothy. Remember we want to beat all the teams at state, so we can go to the nationals in Jacksonville. Leigh you may continue serving.”
Leigh served her second serve, with a spin. Dorothy ran to return it, and the volley was still going when, yes, you guessed it, the what was left of the Gaynor Lady Cougars, showed up. Mrs. Madison whispered for Susan Winters to go inside and call the police. Susan ran as fast as she could, and told the lady at the desk to call the police, because a rival team showed up to start trouble.
Susan came back out of the building, and whispered that the police were called.
“Well, look, girls, we have the cheaters par éxelance. Why don’t you assholes go back to your den of thievery and admire our trophy?”
“What is your name, young lady?” Asked Mrs. Madison.
“I don’t have to give you my name, because it is frankly, none of your damn business.”
“Why don’t you give me your name?” Asked a tall police officer.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. We just want these thieves to give our trophy.”
“Officer, these girls are what is left of the Gaynor Senior High School Lady Cougars tennis team. Everybody else, including one parent has been arrested because he tried to burn down Hampton Senior High School. We’re the Hampton Lady Tigers.”
“The school that won regional championship a few counties away. It is nice …”
“They didn’t win anything. That faggot there isn’t a girl, its a wannabe.”
The officer took out his hand held radio and called for a female officer for a female search.
“Now, when the lady officer gets here, we are going to get to the bottom of this. If we find that Leigh Anne Smythe is a female, you from the Gaynor Lady Cougars are going to jail. We don’t play games like this here. You Gaynor students will have to realize that this world doesn’t revolve around you.” It was then a female police officer from the Midland police department drove up.
“Hi Joe, what do we have here?”
“Leigh, will you go with officer McDermott? She will help put a stop to this farce once and for all.”
“Yes, officer Joe, I will happy to.”
Leigh went with officer McDermott to the ladies room, and had her lift her tennis skirt, and take down her glitch pants. Officer McDermott searched Leigh from head to toe, and even felt the outside of the vaginal area. When officer McDermott felt a little nub where it is supposed to be, she knew that Leigh was a genetic female. Leigh got dressed and the two went back out by the tennis courts.
“See, officer, I told it was a wannabe.”
“What is your name?”
“I don’t have to tell you, I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Sheila, call for transport to the detention center. We have six to go.”
“Wait! Why would you want to take us to detention?”
“Because you lied to the police for one thing. That’s obstructing an officer. Second, you showed up at a tennis facility in order to try and start trouble. That is called disorderly conduct. Third, I understand that you seem to think that the trophy Hampton high school won, belongs to you, because you are jealous of Leigh Anne’s ability to play tennis. Because of that jealousy, you made a lot of lies about Leigh trying to get her disqualified from the state tournaments.
“I’m afraid that you Gaynor students do not own the world. Now, you are not in Alpena, Calumet, Laurium, Cheboygan, or even Traverse City. This is the city of Midland, and here we enforce the law. That means you six are under arrest. I see your ride has just pulled up. Now, ladies, please get in the van, and watch your heads.”
Officer Sheila McDermott has been an officer with the Midland Police Department for six years. She has a marksman medal and an expert medal. That mean she could shoot the handlebars off of a mustache at seventy yards, and knew every make and model of all the firearms, worldwide. She could also, by looking at a spent bullet at the scene of a shooting crime, tell exactly what make and model of gun it came from. Sheila McDermott was a former member to the U.S. Army Green Berets. She was one officer you didn’t want to get angry at you.
With the last six members of the Gaynor Senior High School Lady Cougars now in a detention center quite a ways from home, the Lady Tigers were now free, without worrying about what Gaynor was going to pull at state. Officer Joe Hines, looked at the parents of the Gaynor students.
“It has been determined by a female police officer of the Midland police department that Leigh Anne Smythe is a genetic female. Any more reprisals against Hampton Senior High School, while in this jurisdiction, will find themselves facing felony charges. Do I make myself understood?”
Grumbling, the parents of the arrested students decided to go to a hotel.
One of the parents looked behind him, and then said in a low voice to the other parents.
“When these cops leave, we will get even with the Lady Tigers.”
“Watch out, Dave. If this Leigh Anne person is really a female, then our kids have been lying to us, knowing we will take their side, no matter who says what about Leigh Anne. I’m not willing to go to prison because our kids are jealous. I’m going home.”
“Me, too, Dave. I am sorry but, if this police officer says that Leigh Anne is a female, that is good enough for me. I’m going home, too.”
The other three echoed their friends. They were all going home. Dave Elliott called them all chicken and said he would do what needed to be done, by himself. Some people have to learn the hard way.
After tennis practice was over, the girls, their parents, and Mrs. Madison went to get rooms at a hotel. Dave Elliott followed them. Unknown to Dave Elliott, officer Joe Hines had remained back to observe what was going to happen when the Lady Tigers went to their hotel.
They registered at the Econo Lodge Hotel in Central Midland. After the Lady Tigers got their rooms, and followed the “bellhop” to their rooms, they began unpacking. With everything put away, they decided to go to one room and watch television. They had three double rooms at no extra cost.
While they were watching television in Leigh, Mary, Patty, and Darlene’s room, they heard someone by the door. It sounded like they were trying to pick the lock. At least they thought so, because they heard scratching and scraping. The next thing they knew, they heard two voices. One of the voices was telling the other one he was under arrest for attempted burglary. The girls and their parents went to see what was going on.
“Officer Joe, what is going on?” Leigh asked the police officer.
“I caught this man trying to force your hotel door open. I have arrested him for attempted burglary. Sir, you have the right to remain silent, if you choose to give up that right, anything you say now, can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will appointed to you by the judge before questioning. Do you understand these rights I have read to you?”
“Go to hell, piggly wiggly.”
“I asked if you understood the rights I have just read to you?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.”
“Very well, your taxi has just arrived. Don’t worry, we paid the fare. What are you all watching?”
“Would you believe Public Enemy No. One?” Leigh’s father told officer Joe, facetiously.”
“How about, maybe, the 1961 version of The Parent Trap?”
“Now, that I will believe. Have a good night, folks, and enjoy your movie.” With that he took his prisoner away.
Leigh let out a heavy sigh. With the Lady Cougars locked up, and now two parents along with them, Leigh felt she could now concentrate on tennis. Up until now, she hadn’t really had her mind on the game
“I don’t think we will have any more trouble with Gaynor,” Susan Winters told the group.
“No, Susan, I don’t think so, either. See, I have a small confession to make. Up until now, I was mainly thinking about what the Lady Cougars would pull at state. Now, when the state tournaments happen, they won’t be able to be there.”
“Leigh,” Patty Langston said, hugging her friend. “You just conentrate on the game. Let Mrs. Madison and the police handle Gaynor. I suspect that more parents are going to try to steal our trophy.”
“Well, girls, whomever does steal our trophy is in for a big surprise. Did you know that all tournament trophies are serial numbered? That serial number is then recorded for the school that won the trophy. So, if it does end up missing, we can have the police go to Gaynor and get it back. But, the person who took it, will have a lot to answer for.”
“What about Gaynor’s principal? Wouldn’t the principal be in trouble?”
“Yes, because the principal has to know what his inferior employees are doing. In the case of a school principal, he or she must know what the students are doing, too. Because of recent events, I wouldn’t be surprised if they closed the school down. Or, at least, canceled all interscholastic sporting events because of an investigation.”
“Mom,” said Leigh, with sorrow in her tone. “Why do people like the Gaynor students and parents act like that? I mean, why can’t they just accept it, that they may have been unbeaten, but, it can’t last forever.”
“Leigh, that is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Nobody knows why people act like they own the world. Maybe someday, someone will find out. Maybe.”
“Alright, girls, we came to practice, and practice we shall. Let’s all enjoy Haley Mills in the Parent Trap,” Mrs. Madison told the Lady Tigers.
They sat back with some fresh popped popcorn, and watched the original Parent Trap, that was made in 1961. The movie was funny, and I will not go into it, because even the slightest hint of what it is about, will ruin the movie for those that haven’t seen it. The 1998 remake with Lindsay Lohan was also good. They watched the movie with Haley Mills, and when it was over, they all hugged each other good night.
That night, Leigh dreamed that the Lady Cougars were all sent to institutions, and their parents were sent to prison. When she woke up the next morning, she felt she had slept twenty years, like Rip van Winkle. She was refreshed and happy, and today was thinking about nothing but tennis.
All of the other Lady Tigers were humming or singing tunes. They must have had a good night, too. Leigh took her shower, using her perfumed soap that she had brought with her. When she was finished, she dressed in her tennis clothes, and checked her bag for her racquets, can of tennis balls, and went to the fridge to get her gatorade. This hotel had a mini fridge in each room to keep cold drinks cold.
“Ladies,” Mrs. Madison clapped her hands to get their attention. “I see that we are all dressed for practice. Let us go out to the courts before somebody else grabs them. These outside courts may used without a reservation, but, it is first come, first serve. So, if we are ready, let’s go.”
They grabbed their tennis gear and went out to the courts. The Lady Tigers set their tennis bags by the side benches and took out their racquets. Mrs. Madison then addressed the assembled group.
“Ladies, today we will practice more of the plays we started yesterday. Pay attention to where the ball is on your side of the court, and return it accordingly.
“Cheryl, I want you and Colleen to take the court. You saw the first four practice their aces, lobs, slams and spins. I want you two to practice the same plays. These plays, ladies, will help us a lot in winning at state and the nationals when we get that far. So let’s get out there and practice, practice, practice. In tennis, ladies, practice does make perfect. Alright, Cheryl, Colleen , you may begin play at any time. Cheryl, it is your serve.”
Cheryl Masters served her first ball and was returned. The volley lasted for about eight minutes, when Cheryl lobbed it over the net for the points of the game.
“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called. Mrs. Madison would be the score caller during all the practice games. Cheryl served her next ball, and Colleen Sanders attempted to spin it, but Cheryl returned it. Colleen then returned the next ball, and the volley lasted ten minutes, when Cheryl slammed it across the net.
“30 - Love.”
With Cheryl’s next serve, Colleen was unable to return it for the first ace of the day.
“40 - Love. Colleen, you can’t stand there like a statue. Keep your eye on the ball, and return it. We have the state tournaments coming up, and we have to beat every team at those tournaments. That means that we must become adept at making aces, lobs, slams and spins. We need to know these plays, if we are going to win at state. Also, when we go to the nationals, we will be playing more teams than we will at state. We have to get these four plays down, so that we can use them both at state and at the nationals. Cheryl, continue serving, and remember Colleen, Cheryl has a triple set point.”
Cheryl served her next ball, and Colleen returned it with a speed that Cheryl was unprepared for.
“40 - 15.”
Cheryl’s next ball was called as a fault, and she served her second ball. Colleen returned it with a spin, but Cheryl returned it with another spin. When Colleen returned it to Cheryl, Cheryl tried to slam it, but Colleen returned it. This volley has now been going on for six minutes. Cheryl returned the ball back to Collen, who used a spin to get the ball to hit Cheryl’s side of the court and then bounce back in to the net. But, Cheryl was fast enough to return it, by tipping the ball slightly over the net, and Colleen was unable to return it.
“Game, Cheryl Masters. Colleen, I want you to watch Leigh and Patty Langston use the plays we need to be at least fair with by the time we go to state. The city school board is putting up the money for us staying here, until one day before the state tournaments begin. Leigh, Patty, please take the court.” Leigh Anne and Patty Langston took the court. Leigh, because of her ability, took the court facing the sun. Patty served first.
Patty’s first serve was in and Leigh returned it with a slam.
“Love - 15,”
Patty’s next serve was called out, and she served her second ball. That one was in, and the volley lasted seven minutes.
“Love - 30. Leigh that was a very good spin.”
The next serve was returned for a volley lasting nine minutes, when Leigh slammed it in to Patty’s side of the court.
“Love - 40.”
“Patty, you are doing just fine. Leigh, you are playing a wonderful game.”
Patty’s next serve was an ace.
“15 - 40.”
The next serve was returned and the volley lasted twelve minutes, twenty seconds.
“30 - 40. Good work Patty.”
Patty’s next serve was returned and the volley last nine minutes.
Patty’s next serve was returned, but, Patty hit in to her side of the net.
“Alright, girls, this is a good game. Patty you may serve.”
Patty’s next serve was volleyed back and forth for what seemed like forever. Finally, Patty tried to slam the ball in to Leigh’s side of the court, but, it hit Patty’s side of the net.
“Game, Leigh Anne Smythe. Girls, we still have a lot of practice to go. We can still master, or at least be somewhat good at the four plays we have to practice. Remember what I said; aces, lobs, slams, and spins. We have to be able to use these four plays to our advantage, both at state and at the nationals. Remember, too, no negative thinking. We will take state and the nationals. Now, I want Mary Whithers to play Darlene Haskins. Ladies, please take the court. Mary, please take the far end of the court, and when you are both ready, you may serve.”
Mary Whithers served her first ball, and Darlene returned it, and the volley lasted more than eight minutes. Then Darlene hit the ball out of bounds, giving Mary the first points.
“15 - Love.”
The next serve was called a fault, and Mary Whithers served her second ball. It was in and Darlene returned it, making the volley last about nine minutes, when Mary hit the ball in to her side of the net.
“15 - 15.”
“Mary, take your time. Don’t rush.”
Mary served again, and this time the volley was only three minutes, twelve seconds, before Darlene slammed the ball in to Mary’s side of the court.
“15 - 30. That was a very good slam, Darlene.”
Mary served again, putting a spin on the ball. Darlene returned the ball, but Mary persisted in returning the ball with spins. Finally, Darlene put a spin on her return, and Mary failed to return it.
“15 - 40, double set point.”
Mary served for a fault, and served her second ball. Darlene returned it with a spin, and the ball hit the net and just bounced on to Mary’s side. Mary was not quick enough to return it.
“Game, Darlene Haskins. I want Donna Sanchez and Dorothy Winston to play next, then we will take a lunch break, and come back out after we have eaten, and our tummies are rested.
“Donna, please take the far end of the court, Dorothy take the near side. Donna, it is your serve.”
Donna Sanchez served the ball and it was returned with a spin. Donna returned the ball, and Dorothy returned it with a slam, but Donna returned it. Dorothy hit the ball back, and hit it in to the far corner from where Dorothy was standing.
“15 - Love,” called Mrs. Madison, the unofficial official score caller for these practice sessions.
Donna served again, and this time she hit the ball hard and fast for an ace.
“30 - Love. Nice ace, Donna.”
The next serve was just slightly over the net, and Dorothy was not fast enough to return it.
“40 - Love. Dorothy, anticipate where the ball is going to be hit, by watching the body language of your opponent. Girls, this will help you when we have to play other teams from across the state and from across the country. Alright, Donna, you serve.”
Donna served the ball with a spin. Dorothy was able to return it, and when Donna tried to return it, it hit her side of the net.
“40 - 15”
Donna thought that maybe she would hit the ball at a low angle and she would hit it fast. Dorothy could not return it.
“Game Donna Sanchez. Nice game, ladies. Let’s go inside and get some lunch. Then we will rest for a bit, then come back out for more practice. We need all the practice we can get.”
They all went in to the cafeteria at the Midland Community Tennis Center, for their lunch. This was a buffet style cafeteria, so it didn’t take long for the girls to get their lunch. They found a few picnic table style benches, and went to sit down.
“I’m beat,” Patty told the group.
“Yes,” answered Darlene. “But if we think we are beat now, think how we are going to be after state and after the nationals. Remember, Patty, there is no rest for the weary.”
“You can say that again,” Mary Whithers stated. “I am going to soak my whole body in a nice soothing bubble bath.”
“That sounds like an idea,” Cheryl Masters added. “My grandma was taking a bubble bath one time, and I heard her say, ‘Calgon, take me away’. I laughed because I had no idea what Calgon was, until one day were in the store to get more bubble bath, and I saw the Calgon bottle on the shelf. Then I knew what she meant.”
“A nice soothing bubble bath is a very good stress reliever,” added Susan Winters.
Now, a person would think that most of the day had passed. But, in reality, it was only twelve thirty in the afternoon. The Hampton Lady Tigers were up before the rooster crowed, and were on the court as the rooster crowed. So, between five thirty in the morning, until it was lunch time, they had everybody play. Now they will start over with the lineup.
Just as the Lady Tigers were leaving the building to go to the outside courts, they heard a familiar voice.
“Hello, Hampton,” said Debbie Constantine of the MHSAA. “I just received permission for you practice indoors for the rest of your stay here. I understand that your school board is footing the bill for you to practice here, and for your hotel. So, follow me, and I will show you the courts you will practicing on.
Ms. Constantine took the Lady Tigers in to the building and showed them the courts they will be practicing on. Now while the Greater Midland Tennis Center is not a school, per se, they do have MHSAA tournaments. However, when Hampton goes to the state semi-finals and finals, they will be held at the MSU Tennis Center in Lansing, because the courts at the Greater Midland Tennis Center have already been reserved.
“Mrs. Madison, your girls can practice here for the thirteen days that are left to practice. That will be one day before the state tournaments in Lansing. What plays are they practicing?”
“I want them to get used to aces, lobs, slams and spins. That is in addition to the regular volley. But, somewhere in those volleys, I want them to use those four plays.”
“That sounds like a winner to me. I heard you had some problems with the Lady Cougars.”
“Ms. Constantine, the entire Gaynor Lady Cougars squad is either in detention or jail. Another one of the Gaynor parents was arrested here yesterday, for trying to break in to one of our hotel rooms. A Midland police officer by the name of Joe Hines arrested the man.”
“Very well. I was hoping we could avoid this, but now I know we can’t. Gaynor Senior High School will be terminated from any and all MHSAA sporting events and tournaments. There will be an investigation. This termination comes from the fact that they show very poor sportsmanship in any game, or tournament they play in. I don’t know why, but they think they are entitled to trophies they haven’t won. So, Let me introduce you to Leslie Rhymes, who is a Hampton alumni. She will be here with you all during your practice day, until you leave. So, if you will follow me.”
They followed Debbie Constantine in to an office where Leslie Rhymes was waiting. The president of the tennis center was also there.
“Miss Rhymes, Mr. Cook, I want you to meet Mrs. Madison and the Hampton Senior High School Lady Tigers. This is Leigh Anne Smythe, Susan Winters, Dorothy Winston, Cheryl Masters, Donna Sanchez, Patricia Langston and Darlene Haskins. They won the regional tournament, and are on their way to the state competition in Lansing. From there, they are hoping to go to the nationals in Jacksonville, Florida.”
“Only if they win over us,” Mr. Cook said, facetiously.
“We will,” Leigh answered him.
“That’s the spirit, never lose that. Anyway, Miss Rhymes, will you please take the Lady Tigers to the courts they will be practicing on?”
“Yes, Mr. Cook. Ladies, follow me.”
They followed her to the inside tennis courts that they will be practicing on.
“We hold junior tournaments on these courts, but we don’t have one now for about another week and a half.”
“That is more than enough time for us to practice. Alright, girls, let’s show Leslie and Ms. Constantine how we do our aces, lobs, slams and spins. Leigh Anne Smythe and Dorothy Winston, please take the courts. Leigh, please take the far side of the court, Dorothy take the near side. It is Leigh’s serve.
Leigh tossed the ball up and slammed it for an ace.
“15 - Love.”
Leigh served her next ball, and the volley lasted for eight minutes, before Dorothy returned it for a spin. Leigh, however, was able to return it, adding a spin of her own. The two girls kept returning the ball adding spins to their return. Finally, after fourteen minutes, Leigh was able to slam the ball on to Dorothy’s side of the net. Dorothy tried to return it, but hit it in her side of the net.
“30 - Love.”
Leigh’s next serve was a slam for another ace.
40 - Love.”
When Leigh served her next ball, Dorothy made a chip shot slightly
“40 - 15. That was a nice play, Dorothy.”
Leigh’s next serve was returned and the two girls volleyed back and forth for five minutes, giving Leigh the score.
“Game, Leigh Anne.”
"These girls are learning, Mrs. Madison. With the practice they get here, they should be very competent competitors at state.”
“They are a good squad. They play as a team, they discuss the game as a team, they even go shopping as a team.”
“Now, that is what I call team spirit.”
“Now, I want Darlene Haskins and Donna Sanchez. Donna please take the near side of the court, and Darlene, please take the far side. Donna, it is your serve.”
Donna served to Darlene, and Darlene returned it. They volleyed back and forth for about four minutes, when Darlene lobbed the ball on to Donna’s side. Donna hit the ball in to the net, giving Darlene the score.
“Love - 15.”
All the while the girls were playing, Mrs. Madison was talking to Leslie and Debbie Constantine about the plays that she told the girls thery needed to practice for the state competitions. She said she also told the girls they would need these plays for the national competitions as well.
“Mrs. Madison, you wouldn’t be a little biased now. Would you?” Asked Leslie Rhymes.
“Who? Moi? Not Moi?” The three ladies giggled.
Donna served her next ball, and Darlene returned it. This volley lasted six minutes, before Donna sent it flying out of bounds.
“Love - 30.”
Donna served the next ball hard and fast for an ace.
“15 - 30.”
Donna tried that same play, but found Darlene waiting for it. Darlene returned the ball quickly without any fancy racquet work. Donna was expecting a slam, and braced herself for it. But Darlene hit the ball in the opposite corner away from Donna.
“15 - 40. Good play, Darlene.”
Donna was hoping to get an ace with her next serve. However, Darlene returned it with a spin. Donna sent it back to Darlene, who kept returning it with spins. Finally, the spins were too much for Donna, and Darlene won the game.
“Game, Darlene Haskins. Good work girls. Let’s take a fifteen minute break.”
These tennis courts have bleachers where spectators can sit and watch the games. The Lady Tigers, Mrs. Madison, Leslie Rhymes and Debbie Constantine, sat on the bleachers and were talking about the games that Leslie seen them play.
“From where I stood, I saw some very good plays. But, ladies, you still have a long way to go,” Leslie addressed the Lady Tigers. “Dorothy, you did very good making that chip shot over the net. That is a hard play to return, even for the pros. You are doing well, but, just remember, too, that it takes practice, practice and more practice.
“The more you get used to making these kinds of plays during a game, the better you will be against your opponent. Remember, your opponent wants to win, too. So, you have to be one step faster in returning the ball. I am sure that Mrs. Madison has told you to keep your eye on the ball. This is important, because if you take your eye off of the ball even for a moment, you could lose the point.
“I am a Hampton Senior High alumni, and when I found out that you wanted to practice here, I went to Mr. Cook and asked him if it would be okay. When I told him that Hampton is my high school alma mater, he said he had no objections. I asked him if I could help the Lady Tigers coach, while the Lady Tigers are practicing here. He said, ‘of course’.
“So, Mrs. Madison and I will be coaching you throughout your practice sessions. But, also, seeing that I am here to help, we can have two girls on the next court, practicing, too. Does that sound like a plan? Mrs. Madison can call the score for her court, and I can call the score for my court.
“This way, too, we can get more practice in. Now, I know Mrs. Madison has told you that aces, lobs, slams and spins are very important. But, now, Dorothy has shown us a play we haven’t practiced. Chipping the ball over the net. You need to practice that one, also.”
“We will practice, because we know that there may be teams at state that are just as good as we are, maybe even better,” Leigh told Leslie Rhymes. “So, by the time we get to state, maybe we can beat the glitch pants off of the competition.” The Lady Tigers giggled.
“And that is why, Leigh, you have to practice these plays. You can better believe that there will be tennis squads at state that will use those plays, hoping you don’t know how to return it. Ladies, I want you to get out there on these courts and pretend you are playing against an opponent from another school. Let’s see how you do, with that mind set.”
“Alright, ladies,” Mrs. Madison said, clapping her hands. “Let’s get out there and whip some serious butts.”
The Lady Tigers went by the courts. The girls that weren’t playing, stayed sitting on the bleachers.
“Ladies,” Mrs. Mdison addressed the team. “I want Patricia Langston against Susan Winters, and Colleen Sanders against Mary Whithers. Colleen and Mary, please take the court that Leslie will be coaching. Patty and Susan, you stay here. Susan, please take the far end, and Patty you stay at this end. Patty, it is your serve.”
Patty served her first ball, and the volley lasted for several minutes, before Susan tried to put a spin on the ball, but patty returned it with her own spin. The ball hit the top of the net, and rolled over on to Susan’s side of the net. Susan, anticipating this, hurried to the net, just in time to return the ball. Leigh, rushing to the net, was able to tip the ball back to Susan’s side, just under her racquet.
“15 - Love.”
This is the type of plays Mrs. Madison wanted the Lady Tigers to get used to playing. Patty served again, and this time was fast and at an angle, where Susan couldn’t return it.
“30 - Love.”
Over by Mary and Colleen, the score was thirty all. Patty served again and found Susan’s right foot, of which the ball bounced off of.
“40 - Love.”
Patty needed to get this point, so she had to really keep her eye on the ball. Patty served, but Susan returned it, and the volley lasted for about five minutes, when Patty put a spin on her return. Susan returned the ball and the volley continued. Watching the ball, Patty was waiting for Susan to make a mistake, and she did. Susan tried to put a spin on the ball, but hit it in to her side of the net.
“Game, Langston. That was a good game, girls. You will need to remember what you did in this game, because you are probably going to have to use that at state.”
Just then, Colleen and Mary came over with Leslie Rhymes.
“Well, Mrs. Madison, I think these girls are doing well. Continuing to practice these moves, will serve them nicely at state. Ladies, I will be there at MSU when you have your tournaments. I will be rooting for my high school alma mater.”
“Alright, girls,” Mrs. Madison said, clapping her hands. “I think we can call it a day. You all did beautifully, but we are going to continue to practice until it becomes second nature to you. Let’s go shower and get dressed, and we will go out to to eat dinner. Where do you think we want to go?”
The girls talked amongst themselves, and came up with one voice.
“Bob Evans,”* the Lady Tigers said, in unison.
*Bob Evans Farms, Inc., Corporate Office & Headquarters, 3776 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43207 -- 614-491-2225
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