Leigh Anne - Chapter 19 - Practice continues.
By Barbara Lynn Terry
(Author’s Note: I have had some say that it is impossible for a volley in high school tennis to last more than a few minutes. There are tennis volley records lasting over 40 minutes, but they are not high school records. However, that is not to say that a high school student cannot volley a tennis ball back and forth across the net for more than five minutes. Even though the tennis volley records are adult tennis pro records, it is possible for a high school student to achieve the same type of record. Thank you, Barbara)
The Lady Tigers all went to the Bob Evans nearest to them.* When they all got to the restaurant, they went in. The hostess asked how many, and Mrs. Madison said ten. They were taken back to to where there were two booths and a table just across the aisle. The waitress came over by them.
“Hello, my name is Darlene. May I take your order?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Madison told Darlene. “We will have the Wildfire Chicken Salad, the girls in these two booths will have milk, I will have coffee. Leslie what do you want?”
“I will have the same, with milk.”
‘Thank you, ladies, your orders will be right up.”
Darlene Schroeder was twenty three years old, and has worked for this Bob Evans for two years. She was employee of the month two times in those two years. Darlene brought the group their drinks right away, and a few minutes later, brought their orders.
“If there is anything else you want, just wave me over.”
The group was more interested in talking about their morning practice sessions. They talked about the lobs and spins they used while volleying back and forth. Leigh especially was grateful that she possessed the skill to be able to make those plays without even thinking about them. With Gaynor out of the way, Leigh felt a great weight was lifted from her shoulders.
Mrs.Madison, and Leslie Rhymes were talking about strategies the girls could use to help them in their state competitions. A part of that strategy was to let the their opponents become so emotionally angry. Leslie told Mrs. Madison that the angrier the opponent gets, the better the Lady Tigers could win the state trophy. Another strategy was an attack method that didn’t involve any kind of emotion. The girls would attack with as fast a serve as they could do, keeping their eye on the ball. Another strategy was anticipating where the ball was going to hit their side of the court, and being ready for it.
The group finished their salads, and they got up to leave, with Mrs. Madison paying the bill for all of them. Since this was a school sanctioned event, she had to have the receipt. They all went out to the cars. Leslie Rhymes drove her car with four of the girls, and Mrs. Madison drove her car with the other four.
They headed back to the Greater Midland Tennis Center, and parked their cars in the parking lot. Leslie parked hers in the parking space marked Personal Assistant To Mr. Cook. Mr. Cook came down to the courts the girls were using, and watched them play. Leigh and Dorothy were playing, and the score was fifteen all.
“Alright, girls, you are doing fine. Dorothy, you were just a tad off from lobbing the ball back to Leigh. That is why she returned it for fifteen points. Take your time, girls, take your time.”
Dorothy served the next ball for a fault. She then served her second ball, and Leigh returned it. This volley lasted almost eight minutes; seven minutes and forty seconds, to be exact.
“15 - 30,” Mrs. Madison called. “You were just a little too quick to try to return the ball, Dorothy.”
Dorothy served again, and Leigh returned it.The volley lasted for ten minutes, when Leigh, trying to spin it, hit it out of bounds.
“30 - 30.”
Now Leigh understood about why Mrs. Madison wanted the girls to practice spins, lobs, slams, aces and chip shots. Chipping isn’t easy. You have to have had a lot of practice just to play the chip shot successfully. But, anyway, they now have five plays they have to master before the state competitions in Lansing.
Dorothy served again, and tried to get an ace, but Leigh hit it back. This volley lasted for four minutes, twenty eight seconds.
“30 - 40.”
Dorothy served the ball, and hit it to the left corner. Leigh, however, was ready for it and returned it, trying a chip shot. It worked.
“Game, Leigh Anne. That was a marvelous chip shot, Leigh.”
“When I saw what Dorothy did when she made the chip shot, I remembered it. That is why I thought I would try it in this game.”
“Well, you did it beautifully. Girls, I am very proud of the way you play. You have just about mastered the four plays, plus the chip shots by Dorothy and Leigh. I want the rest of the squad to practice that play, also. Alright, will Susan Winters and Darlene Haskins please take court one, and Donna Sanchez against Colleen Sanders, please take court two. Susan, it is your serve, and Colleen, it is your serve.”
Susan served her ball, and Darlene returned it. Now, Susan Winters was also one who could learn by watching. When Susan sent the ball back to Darlene, and Darlene returned it, Susan tried the chip shot. Darlene was unable to return it, because she was too far back from the net.
“15 - Love.”
“Darlene, anticipate where the ball will be. Study the body language of your opponent. This tells you where the will be hit. If your opponet chips the ball, you can tell by the way your opponent holds her racquet. Your opponent will hold her racquet in a flat position, like she is going to spin the ball back. But, she will slightly hit the ball, chipping the shot. This is why it is called a chip shot. Alright, let’s continue. Susan you may serve when ready.”
Susan served her ball in to Darlene’s side of the net. Darlene returned it and the volley lasted for about three minutes. Susan returned to Darlene’s side of the net for ther score.
“15 - 15.”
Susan served again, and this time when Darlene returned it, Susan tried a chip shot. Darlene was unable to return it.
“30 - 15. Nice chip shot, Susan. You are learning. You now understand what I was saying. If you hold your racquet flat, just hit he ball slightly, you have the chip shot. It will look like you are going to spin the ball back to your opponent. Continue Susan.”
Susan served the ball, and the volley lasted for five minutes, when Darlene chipped the ball to Susan’s side of the net.
“30 - 30. That was a nice chip shot, Darlene. Girls, you are learning fast, which is good, because by the time we get to state, each one of you will know these five plays by heart. Continue Susan.”
Susan served her next ball, and it was returned for a volley that lasted seven minutes. Susan hit the ball out.
“30 - 40.”
Susan’s next ball was fast an on target. It landed just inside of Darlene’s side of the net.
“Game, Winters. Alright ladies, what I saw today, was impulse playing. When your opponent returned the ball, some of you did a chip shot. Some people would call it a slice, because that is what it looks like. But, there is a difference between a slice and a chip. A slice is when you hit the ball with a somewhat flat racquet return with as much speed and strength as you can. A chip is when you hold the racquet flat and just tap it a little with enough strength to just get the ball slightly over the net.
“This is why a chip shot is so hard to return. Unless your opponent is so close to the net, she won’t be able to return the chip. The score is 30-40, Darlene. Susan you may serve.”
Susan served her next ball, and it landed in the far corner of Darlene’s side of the net. Darlene, however, was fast enough to return it. This volley went on for eight minutes, when Susan hit it right at Darlene’s right foot.
Susan served again, and the volley lasted several minutes before Darlene hit it out.
This meant that Susan Winters had 41 points, but needs two points to win the set. Susan served again, and hit the ball fast and hard for an ace.
“Game, Winters. Ladies, you both played very well. You keep playing like this and you will be a shoe in for that state trophy. All of you girls were excellent today. We just need to keep practicing so that all of this is second nature to you. I like the way you are manipulating the chip shots. That is what you have to do. I think if the state tournaments were to happen tomorrow, we would be ready. What say we call it a day, and go back to the hotel.”
You could hear the heavy sighs in the next town. The girls were beat. Some of them, if not all of them are going to let Calgon take them away. It didn’t matter if they were using Calgon or not. The girls were going to massage each others shoulders. It was a heavy day of practice, but this will get them ready for state. If they are tired now, they will be beyond exhaustion at state.
When you have eight girls and one female coach/chaperone, you need all three rooms to get the bubble baths done and over with. They were all finished with their bubble baths by eight o’clock. They were all in a huddle, when Mrs. Madison came in from taking her shower.
“Well, ladies, whose hungry?” They all raised their hands. “What do you think we should do? Maybe go out and have something, or …”
“Pizza!” They all exclaimed.
“Well, I guess it is pizza then. Alright, Colleen, will you look and see where the nearest pizza place is, and call them. What kind of pizza do we want.” Leigh spoke for the rest.
“We were thinking, sausage, ham, mushrooms, onions and black olives.”
“Alright Colleen, go ahead and call them. Tell them we want a large pizza, cut in eight slices. Order whatever sodas you all want, and order me a Mountain Dew or a Sprite, whathever they have.”
Colleen Sanders called Pizza Hut, and told them what they wanted, and told them where to deliver it and the room number. It was about thirty two minutes, when the pizza was delivered. The girls turned on the television, and surfed the channels. They came across an old World War Two movie called Sink The Bismarck. It starred Kenneth Moore and Dana Wynter. It was made in 1960. The girls decided to watch it, and pretend they were the British navy bringing down Germany’s fastest and most powerful warship. They pretended Gaynor was the Bismarck. They were going to enjoy this movie very well.
Even though the girls did not like war movies, per se, they wanted to watch this one, because it reminded them of the battle they had (have?) with Gaynor. The movie starts out with Kenneth Moore walking toward a building with his brief case in his hand. From there, you will have to watch the movie, if you have never seen it.
They watched the movie with interest. The German admiral on board the Bismarck was a selfish egotist. He felt as long as he was on the Bismarck, no other ship could touch him.
Anyway, the girls enjoyed the movie, and cheered when Bismarck was defeated.
There were shouts of, “down with Gaynor, down with Gaynor, down with Gaynor! After a few minutes they stopped and laughed at how Gaynor didn’t need any help in being brought down. They did it all by themselves. Then there was a knock on the door. Mrs. Madison answered it. A Midland police officer stood there.
“Yes, officer, is there something wrong?”
“Well. Not really, ma’am. We just got a call that there were loud cheering going on in this room.”
“Please, come in, and let me introduce to you to the team. Girls, this is officer, uhm, what is your name?”
“Oh, I am sorry. I’m officer Jim Moulder.”
“Well, officer Jim. This is Colleen Sanders, Mary Whithers, Leigh Anne Smythe, Patricia Langston, Darlene Haskins, Donna Sanchez, Dorothy Winston, and Susan Winters. We are the Hampton Senior High School Lady Tigers.”
“Oh, yes, the team that won the regional tennis tournament. What was all of the cheering about?”
“We were watching Sink The Bismarck with Kenneth Moore. They pretended they were the British navy searching for the Bismarck, and that they defeated the Bismarck. They pretended that our rival, Gaynor Senior High school was the Bismarck.”
“Gaynor? Yes, we have a few of them in our detention center. The female deputies that work the women’s side of the jail, tell me that these Gaynor students are really loud. They claim that the regional trophy is theirs, because one of your team isn’t exactly female. I have read officer McDermott’s report. Apparently the Gaynor students are jealous of Leigh Anne’s ability to play tennis. Ladies, I know you’re anxious to get to state, but, please, keep the noise down to a low roar.”
“Yes, officer Jim." Thank you for coming, officer Jim. Would you like some coffee? That is all we have here is a coffee maker and an air popcorn popper. We also have some coffee cake. The girls have their sodas in the little mini fridge.”
“I would love a cup, thank you. is the coffee cake fresh? As far as dispatch is concerned I’m still investigating. Sink The Bismarck with Kenneth Moore. Did that star Dana Wynter, too?”
“Why, yes, it did,” Answered Mrs. Madison.
“I have seen that movie a few times. It is a good movie. Most of what is in that movie is mostly factual. But, you know Hollywood, they have to get their extra drama in there.”
Mrs. Madison poured the officer a cup of coffee and let him put the milk and sugar in himself. She also gave him some coffee cake. Over coffee and coffee cake, officer Jim and Mrs. Madison sat and talked. She invited officer Jim to come and see the Lady Tigers practice. She told him of the way they were practicing so far.
“I want these girls to know those plays inside and out. This way they will be more than ready for state.”
“I quite agree. If I can, before you leave, I will come and watch a practice session.”
Officer Jim finished his coffee and coffee cake, and made his apologies but he had to get back on patrol. They all wished him a safe night, and then he left.
“Alright, girls, it seems the Midland police department is a friendly department. We are going to enjoy practicing here. Alright ladies, what else would you like to watch?”
“I think I’m going to go to bed,” Leigh told everyone.
“Me, too,” Susan Winters echoed Leigh.
The other girls said the same thing. They had to get up early to get on the court to practice. The Lady Tigers have been doing great so far. Now, the Lady Tigers just need to stay where they are at. If they can do that, then they can win the state trophy.
The girls all brushed their teeth, and got in to their night clothes. Once in bed, they were out as fast a light bulb. They each had a wonderful night’s rest, because, quite frankly, they were all exhausted. We will leave the ‘beyond exhaustion’ for the state semi finals and finals.
Night never seems to last long. No sooner have you closed your eyes and you have to open them again. The girls all got up, took their showers, got in to their tennis outfits, and had breakfast at the hotel dining room. They were all chattering about how they were doing so far. When they were finished with their breakfast, they went out to the courts to burn it all off.
Oh! Yes, the hotel had a dining room. But it pays to go out to dinner than have the normal hotel fare. But, this morning, the girls were in a hurry to get on the court. The line up started right away, as soon as the Lady Tigers were out on the courts. Leslie Rhymes came in at that moment.
“Good morning, Hampton,” Leslie Rhymes said, with a beaming smile. “Did you all sleep well, last night?”
“Yes, we did, Leslie. We were so beat yesterday, those bubble baths we took, was worth all the strain we put on our bodies, yesterday.”
“Well, Leigh, I will tell you again. If you think that yesterday was grueling, just wait until you get to Lansing. Those girls from around the state will not worry about whether or not you are tired. They came to play tennis, and that is exactly what they will do. Regardless if you are tired, exhausted, or ready to fall out. They don’t care, as long as they get to play tennis.
“Just keep up the way you are, and you will be fine. A little secret, though. Those other teams, from all the exercise they get from playing tennis, they, too, are exhausted. However, do not let the other teams know you are tired, or they will take advantage of that. You just play the way you have been all though the tournament, except that you must practice your aces, lobs, slams, spins and chip shots. Just remember, that it is easier to slice the ball than it is to chip it.”
“Leslie, I understand there is a difference between a slice and a chip. Would you tell us again, why they are different?”
“Yes, Leigh, I will be glad to. When you slice the ball, you hold your racquet in a semi-flat position, and you just slice under the ball with as much effort as you can. When you chip the ball you hold your racquet as though you were going to slice the ball, but, when the ball comes over the net, you just slightly tap the ball so that it falls on the other side of net. Your opponent will not be able to return the chip, because to return it, they would have to be standing right at the net.”
“So, a sliced ball goes further than a chipped ball. Is that right?”
“That is right, Leigh.”
“Alright girls, let’s get our gear out, and get on the courts. Today we are going to play doubles. I want Leigh, Colleen, Mary, and Susan on court one and, I want Patricia, Darlene, Donna, and Dorothy on court two. Now, remember, in doubles, the out of bounds is the outside line on both sides. In singles, it is the inside line. Alright, ladies, if you have your positions, Patricia your team serves first. Leigh, your team serves first.”
Leigh and Mary faced Colleen and Susan; Patty and Donna faced Darlene and Dorothy. Leigh served first for her team, and Donna served first. Leslie Rhymes was again coaching court number two, while Mrs. Madison coached court number one.
Donna served her ball for a fault, and then served her second ball. This volley lasted five minutes, before Darlene hit it over the net just inside the line.
“Love - 15,” Leslie Rhymes called.
The volley between Leigh and Mary, facing Colleen and Susan, was still going when Donna served for the second time. The volley ended when Leigh sliced the ball over the net, and it landed between Colleen and Susan. Susan tried to return it, but the ball hit their side of the net.
“15 - Love,” called Mrs. Madison.
Donna’s second serve was still going, when Leigh served for her second time. The volleys were going strong, and the volley between Donna’s team and Darlene’s team, came to abrupt halt, when Donna hit the ball in to the net.
The volley on Leigh’s side, was still going after eight minutes. This was one of the strong reasons why the Lady Tigers wanted Leigh on their team. Because she actually knew how to play tennis. Leigh’s volleys equaled those of the pros. Ten minutes had gone by, and Colleen hit it in to the net.
“30 - Love.”
Mrs. Madison heard Leslie Rhymes call “40 - Love”.
The volleys of these two teams was one to be watched by a professional tennis player, or two. Mrs. Madison thought that maybe a pro tennis player might be able to give the team a few pointers.
“Alright, girls, we’re going to take a fifteen minute break. You all did wonderful on your doubles. Let’s get a drink of Gatorade or whatever other thirst quencher you have, and then we can talk.”
Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes got their Gatorade, and the girls all had lemon/lime sodas. The lemon and lime contains postassium and other nutrients. It will give them the energy they need to play until lunch time.
“Alright, girls, this is what we are going to do now. When we get back on the court, I want you all to practice the aces, lobs slams, spins and chip shots. These plays are important if we want to take state. Now, we are going to keep the same lineup, but you have to practice those five plays. You will hear some people calling a chip shot a drop ball. But, that isn’t correct. A drop ball is when you slightly hit the ball over the net, but you hold your racquet in a regular form, just like you would hold it when you volley.
“A chip shot is different, because, to your opponent, it will look like you are going to slice the ball, and they will prepare for a slice. But, you will surprise them, and chip it just slightly over the net. You hold your racquet in a slightly upward angle, just like you were going to slice, but you just tap the ball.
“When your opponent sees that you aren’t going to slice, but chip the ball, it will be too late to return it. So, ladies, let’s get back out to the courts we were on before the break and let’s see what you can do.”
Next chapter: The girls become somewhat capable in using the five plays set up by Mrs. Madison.
*Bob Evans Restaurant, 7000 Eastman Ave., Midland, MI 48642
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