Leigh Anne - Chapter 20

Leigh Anne - Chapter 20
By Barbara Lynn Terry

Chapter 1 - Practice, Practice, Practice

Their fifteen minute break being over, the girls all returned to the courts. This time however, instead of four girls to a court, Mrs. Madison wanted the Lady Tigers to play singles again, reminding them of the aces, lobs, slams, slices and chip shots they needed to practice. The idea behind this strategy, was for the girls to gain enough confidence to be able to win the state tennis championship trophy. That would guarantee them a berth at the nationals semi- finals and finals.

“Ladies,” Mrs. Madison spoke to the girls. “This afternoon, I want to see aggressive playing. When we get to state, and ultimately to the nationals, you will have no choice but the play aggressively. Those other teams will also be playing as aggressive as they can. You can bet, that right now, those other teams are practicing, too. So, lets get on those courts and play like we are playing a rival squad. Leigh Anne Smythe and Susan Winters, please take court one. Darlene Haskins and Colleen Sanders, please take court two. Aggressive play, ladies.”

Leigh served first, and Colleen served first on her court. Susan Winters returned Leigh’s serve and they volleyed back and forth for several minutes, before Darlene hit the ball in to her side of the net.

“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called.

Leigh and Susan’s volley was still going, but, Colleen could not return Darlene’s aggressiveness at the net. Leigh then slammed the ball to Susan. When the ball bounced on to Susan’s side, it bounced so high that Susan could not return it.

“30 - Love. That was a good aggressive play, Leigh. Ladies, this is what we will have to put up with at state. Let’s keep up the good work.”

Leigh served her next ball for an ace.

“40 - Love.

Leigh Anne Smythe was the most aggressive player on the squad. She was the only player who could position her serve to a certain point on her opponent’s side. Leigh’s next serve was a spin, but Susan returned it. This volley lasted for twelve minutes. The reason it lasted so long was, because Susan was trying very hard not to give Leigh the next point. It failed, however, as Leigh chipped the ball, and it bounced twice on Susan’s side.

“Game, Smythe. Susan, you did very good. That is the kind of aggressive playing I want to see at state. Leigh, you were even more aggressive keeping Susan from getting a point. Ladies, you just saw a type of aggressive play only two players who play tennis outside of school can do. Ladies, let’s get aggressive. Now is the time. I don’t want you to hurt yourselves, but I want you be as aggressive as you can. If you feel you are getting tired, say so.

“All right. I want Patricia Langston and Donna Sanchez on court one. Patricia, it is your serve.”

Patricia served the ball, which was returned. Patty’s next serve was a slam at Donna’s right foot, which Donna could not return.

“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called.

Patty served again, and this time she hit the ball so fast, it was called as an ace. Donna challenged the call of 30 - Love in favor of Patty. Donna lost the challenge and now had only two challenges left.

“The score on the court stays at 30 - Love. Donna, you did well challenging the call, but in state or national competition, make sure the ball was out. Patty, please make your next serve.”

Patty’s next serve was returned and the volley last twelve minutes, when Patty hit the ball in to her side of the net.

“30 - 15.”

Patty served again, and this time lobbed the ball on the second return.

“40 - 15. Patty, youi are playing aggressively. Keep it up, because it is this kind of aggressiveness that we will need to win the state trophy. Alright, Patty, it is your serve at double set point.”

Patty jumped high when she served her second ace of the game.

“Game, Smythe. Good job, ladies. Donna, you need to be more agressive in your returns. Girls, listen, you can’t always depend on Leigh to pull us out. We need to learn how to swim. So, dive in and start swimming. Now, I want Mary Whithers and Colleen Sanders on court one. Remember ladies, aggressive playing. That means returning the ball, serving the ball, and the volley in between. Colleen, it is your serve.”

Colleen Sanders served the ball fast and hard, but, Mary returned it with a speed even Mary didn’t know she had. The volley lasted and lasted, until Colleen hit the ball out.

“Love - 15.”

When Colleen served her next ball, it was in and called as an ace.

“15 - 15.”

The next serve was returned with a very aggressive speed and slammed on Colleen’s side of the court.

”15 - 30. A very good return, Mary. You had the speed and the right technique. Colleen, you have to anticipate where the ball is going to land on your side of the court. You do this by watching the body language of your opponent and how your opponent holds her racquet. Alright, Colleen, you may serve.”

Colleen’s serve was another ace. Mary looked dejected in losing the point.

“30 - 30.”

In serving the ball, Colleen slammed it as hard as she could, and it was clled out. Colleen tried it again, but this time it was returned. The volley lasted for ten minutes, before Mary’s return was hit in to Colleen’s right far corner.

“30 - 40. That was a good volley, girls. That was exactly what I was more you will win the point. But, be careful, because the other teams at state will be playing aggressively also. Watch your opponent’s body language and the way she holds her racquet. Colleen, you may serve when you are ready.”

This serve was fast and a little too hard. The ball bounced outside the foul line.

“Game, Whithers. Alright, ladies, I think we will go back to the hotel. We need to talk about what we did today, and how four of our players showed us what aggressive tennis playing is all about. But first, ladies, let’s go and get something to eat. Last time me went to Bob Evans. Let’s go some place different, this time.”

“I nave an idea,” Susan Winters said, with a wide grin. “We should go to Old Country Buffet in Saginaw.”*

“Susan, you just came up with a wonderful idea. Who wants to go to Saginaw for dinner?” Mrs. Madison asked the girls. Everybody raised their hand. “Alright, ladies, Saginaw it is. Are you, coming, too, Leslie?

“You bet I am. We can get the party room, or whatever they call it. Then we can talk about weaknesses and strengths. Ladies, you are all doing a good job on the courts. Of course any real test would be the actual tournament. You ladies are almost ready for the state semi-finals and finals. So, if we are ready, let’s go and stuff ourselves until we are overful.”

The whole group went back to the hotel to drop off their tennis equipment. Then Leslie taking four girls, and Mrs. Madison taking the other four, they headed toward Saginaw. I guess Old Country Buffets are the same all over. They have an extensive menu to choose from. It doesn’t take long to get to Saginaw from Midland. They pulled in to a parking space, and assembled by Mrs. Madison’s car.

“Now, ladies, we are going to go in as a group. There are ten of us, and when we go in, I will be in the front, so I can make sure nobody skipped the line agead of you. So, let’s go in.”

They went in, and found the line wasn’t that long. In another hour this place would be packed. Mrs. Madison and the girls got up to the register.

“There are ten of us, myself, Leslie, and the eight girls in their tennis outfits.”

“Will that be cash or credit?”

“That will be credit”

“That will be forty three dollars and sixty five cents. That includes the sales tax.”

Mrs. Madison swiped the school’s credit card through the terminal and was handed her receipt. In most of the Old Country Buffets that I have gone to, you leave the receipt face up when you go to get more food. Then you either take the receipt with you when you leave, or turn it face down. This way the waitress knows if you are coming back or leaving.

This was the best smorgasbord in town. Maybe it was the only one. Here, you could get your fill for a modest price. If you kept ordering food at a non all you can eat restaurant, it could cost two thousand dollars, easily. But for under ten dollars per person, you could eat as much as you want.

The girls commandeered the “party” room and only five went to get their food at a time. This little room off of the main dining room, was perfect for the girls, Leslie and Mrs. Madision talked about today’s practice session. After everybody had their first helping in front of them, Leslie Rhymes was the first to speak.

“Ladies, I want you to know that you have come a long way in just a week. You have gone tooth and nail after your opponent. Something else, I think you may have experienced. The more your opponent shows and acts on their emotions. The more you will win against that person. Four more days, ladies, and you will be ready for state. Does anyone have anything to say about their strengths or weaknesses, or both?”

“Do you really think that we are ready for state, Leslie?”

“Yes, Susan, I do. But, before you can actually go to the state tornaments in Lansing, you have to learn how to do a chip ball, or what some people call a drop ball. In the next four days, we will be practicing this play. You are all very good tennis players. So, that is all I have to say. Mrs. Madison, would you like to say something?”

“Yes, I am very proud of all of you. In the face of adversity, you kept your cool. On the courts, when you were facing an emotional opponent, you didn’t lose your tempers. The MHSAA is behind us all the way. Debbie Constantine said she is going to be at the state tournaments, along with five other officials from the Association. So, ladies, you have all been doing wonderful. Let’s eat and have a good time. You all have more than earned it.”

As they ate, the girls were a chatter about this and that, mainly settling on this cute boy at school, nobody knew. He was a private person, who never took part in interscholastic events. The only two things anyone knew about him was his name and his grades.

His name is Bryan Kelly and he got an “A” whenever he turned in his assignments. One day the history teacher accused him of cheating, and ordered that Bryan take a new exam. When the exam was over, Bryan again passed with flying colors.

“Nobody is this smart. What are you, some kind of a genius?”

“You could say that. My intelligent quotient is only 172. But, there is something you need to know, and I will prove it right here.”

“Next, you’re going to tell me that you have a photographic mind.”

“Pick a book, a magazine, an article from a newspaper, at will. I will read the appointed pages, and let you decide if I have a photographic memory.”

Since that time, none of the teachers ever accused Bryan of cheating again.

The girls then shifted their attention to the up and coming state tennis tournament. They were all very lucky that the Gaynor Lady Cougars were so egotistical as to think that every trophy was theirs. Now, the MHSAA is going to investigate.

“I was wondering,” Leigh started talking. “If Gaynor actually won those trophies they have now, or were they conned out of the school that did win them. The MHSAA has all the scores and all the tournaments that Gaynor has played in, as well as all the scores in all the games we played in. That goes for every high school state wide.”

“So, what happens if the Association finds that Gaynor did cheat and lie their way, just to get a trophy?” Susan Winters asked.

Leslie Rhymes stood up and spoke to assembled team.

“Mrs. Madison, Hampton Lady Tigers, this is exactly why Debbie Constantine said there will be an investigation. There is something very shady going on at Gaynor Senior High School. The Atheletic Association will find out just what. The MHSAA does not have the authority to close the school, but they do have the authority to prevent Gaynor from ever participating in another interscholastic event. Even their chess club would closed down.

“Here is a question that has been on my mind all day. Do the Hampton Lady Tigers want to continue to practice for these next four days, or go home and practice?”

“I would like to stay here and practice. I understand that the courts at MSU are similar, if not the same as these. Our pitiful courts are good to practice on for school to school competitions, but not for the state tournaments,” Leigh said, speaking for herself. The Lady Tigers echoed Leigh’s sentiments.

“Then, sister Lady Tigers, I will be very glad to be your chaperone while you are here. Someday, maybe in the near future, I will come to visit my alma mater. Does anybody want to get anything else?”

“I would like to get a frozen custard cone,” Donna Sanchez said.

Everybody was full, and Donna went to get her frozen custard cone.

After Donna had her cone, they all went out to their cars. Leslie taking four girls and Mrs. Madison taking the other four. When they got back to the hotel, everybody said they were filled to the gills. Mary Whithers wanted to watch a movie, but she wanted it to be a group affair. They talked over several movies, and decided on one that the whole group loved. So, Mary looked for it on the regular cable, but decided On Demand would be better.

Mary set the movie up to be watched. So, the girls settled down to watch the 1967 movie, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, which starred Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepnurn, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton, Isabel Sanford, Roy Glenn and Beah Richards. This cast is what made the movie what it is today. After seeing it, you would come to the same conclusion.

After the movie was over, it was time for bed. The girls all went to their rooms and took a quick shower, and got in to bed. In seconds they were out like light bulbs.

The next morning, they all got in to the shower, one by one, of course. After the last girl was finished with her shower, they all got in to their tennis outfits. They each had a modest breakfast, and then went out to the courts. Mrs. Madison addressed the assembled Lady Tigers.

“Ladies, until now, you have mastered every play there is, except one. The chip shot. For the next four days, you will practice the chip shot, and include that in your regular play. If you practice this play, you will, understand, you will take state. Alright, Patty and Darlene on court one; Mary and Susan on court two. Now, remember, practice that chip shot as much as possible.”

Darlene served first and Patty returned the ball, but during the volley, Darlene tried the chip shot, and she was successful.

“15 - Love.”

When Darlene served next, she did it with a chip shot, but the ball was returned. Darlene did not let her amazement show on her face, but insyead played a volley of forty strokes, ending in Darlene’s losing the point. That was only because the ball hit her side of the net.

“30 - Love.”

Darlene served a returnable ball, only to have Patty get the next point using the chip shot.

“30 - 15.”

“Girls, it seems that you have that chip shot down good. You are using it correctly, in the volley and when your opponent doesn’t expect it. Keep it up, and we are a shoe in to win state. When we get to Jacksonville, we will have only forty nine states to beat. I am telling you this now, so you can prepare for it between now and then. The way you arer playing, however, shows that you can beat those teams hands down.”

Darlene Haskins served again. The serve was returned. The volley lasted for three whole minutes when Patty looked like she was going to return it, and Darlene fell for the feint of body language Patty imitiated. Patty chipped the shot and the score was now even.

“30 - 30.”

Darlene’s next serve was fast and right behind Patty at the left corner.

“40 - 30.”

The Hampton Lady Tigers were coming along just fine. These next few days, all they were doing was honing the skills they already had. The chip shot seemed to come easy to the Hampton Lady Tigers, because when they played, they seemed to be relaxed more so than their opponents. This was proven when they played Gaynor Senior High School.

The next serve was returned, and as tne volley went on, Patty did a sneaky chip shot and wo n the game.

“Game Patricia Langston. That was a good gam,e ladies. You both knew when to use the chip shot. Now, ladies, there is a proper time and an improper time to use the chip shot. You definitely don’t use it when your opponent is standing at the net. Can anyone tell me the proper play, when your opponent is at the net?”

“I would use a lob, because the lob actually goes over the head. If my opponent returned it, and was expecting another play near the foul line, that is when I would use the chip shot.”

“Very good, Leigh. Alright, then, I want Mary Whithers and Colleen Sanders at court one. You may talk among yourselves as to who will serve first.”

As Mrs. Madison was finished telling Mary and Colleen to talk among rhemselves, Leslie Rhymes came up to Mrs. Madison and whispered in her ear. With a look of alarm Mrs. Madison yelled for all of the girls to get to the cars. Play has been called on account of rain.

This was the danger signal, and that meant get out of there quickly.

They all headed back to the hotel, where Midland police officer Joe Hines was waiting.

Chapter 2 - More trouble is brewing from Gaynor.

“Ladies, Leslie here warned us of impending danger from the Gaynor parents. The state police are in on this now, since the Gaynor staff and student body can’t accept defeat graciously. Anyway, one of the parents made bail, and is on his way here to even the score and take back the Gaynor regional trophy that rightly belongs to Gaynor. Apparently, the entire school is in such a mental state that they believe everything is theirs, simply becuse they want it.

“Anyway, this Gaynor parent we had arrested for attempted burglary, went back to get the other parents and bring them back for a showdown. The man that made bail will have his bail revoked, and he will be considered a flight risk and wait in jail until his trial. Officer McDermott is also here, and when the state police show up, they will, hopefully, have the national guard with them. Also, the man who made bail, will have a new charge of inciting to riot, as well as leaving the jurisdiction of the court. I want you ladies to stay in this hotel until we say it is all right to come out. These people are in for a big surprise.”

“Joe,” officer Sheila McDermott said with authority. “The state police barracks and the national guard are on their way. They will beat the Gaynor people here by thirty minutes. The national guard is also bringing a few tanks and about five half-tracks. When the Gaynor people are in the town, the state police and the national guard will throw a quadrant around the northern part of town. The state police will block off any escape route through any of the streets. If they want to come here looking for trouble, we will show them what trouble really is.”

Officer McDermott no sooner said those words, than they heard the unmistaken sound of diesel engines of the tanks and half tracks. The tanks and half tracks would form the quadrant around the nothern section of the only highway in or out of Midland in that direction. There were troop trucks that were loaded with soldiers. Their job was to check identification, and anyone with a Gayner I.D., would be arrested. The faculty of Gaynor carried their employee’s security badges all the time.

Most of the parents carried a Gaynor all year sports pass. They cost dearly, these yearly passes, but to the Gaynor parents, it was worth it. The tanks and half-tracks hid along the side streets, as did the troops in the trucks.

Officer McDermott was watching from her civilian vehicle, waiting for Gaynor to show up. She didn’t have long to wait. Ten minutes later, twenty seven cars, suv’s, pickup trucks and a few campers came in a line, like a convoy.

“685 to all cars, the Gaynor people are here. Major, you may now close the north end of the highway.”

The Gaynor parents, so bent on hate, didn’t hear the tanks and half-tracks start up and move in to position. Officer Moulder was at the first major intersection with a road block.

“This is Officer Joseph Hines, Midland police department. You are ordered to turn your vehicles around and leave peaceably or be arrested for aiding and abetting a fugitive from justice. Soldiers of the Michigan National Guard and officers of the Michigan state police, as well as officers from the Midland police department, will search your vehicles. If you have any weapons, open your driver’s door and lay them on the street.”

Dave, the hothead who made bail, shouted to Officer Hines.

“We don’t have any weapons, flatfoot. Let us by, we’re only passing through, AFTER we get that trophy that rightfully belongs in Gaynor Senior High School’s trophy case.”

“You with the big mouth,” officer Joe Hines said, authoritatively, pointing his gun at Dave’s vehicle. “Get out of the car now, lie on the ground with your hands behind your head, and interlace your fingers. Do it now, big mouth. You are under arrest for breaking bail, and fleeing the jurisdiction of the court.

“All cars,” Joe Hines said in to his handheld radio. “Everyone in these cars are under arrest for aiding and abetting a felony fugitive from justice. Before anyone could say anything, David Elliott spoke to the police.

“I haven’t fleed from anywhere. I have done nothing wrong. I was just trying to get my daughter’s team trophy back.”

“So, you were going to break in to a hotel room, you knew was occupied by young girls, jus to get a trophy. You are one piece of work, Mr. Elliott. By the time we get through filing charges against you, you are going to look like a walking encyclopaedia of crime and why it doesn’t pay. Jim, we have the fugitive over on the north highway leading in to town. It seems that out of the 27 vehicles, only fifteen are Gaynor connected.

“You’re not going to believe this, Jim, but we also have the principal, the Lady Cougars tennis coach, and the vice-principal. So, we have fourteen vehicles all totalled that are going to jail. The rest are not Gaynor people, and are being allowed to return home.”

“10-4, Joe. I will be right there.”

“Major,” officer Joe Hines said in to his hand held radio. “There are thirteen vehicles coming your way. Please let them pass.”

The tanks and half-tracks moved creating an opening, so the people who weren’t Gaynor staff, parents, or alumni could pass and go back home.

“Now, Mr. Elliott, here is the bad news. Your bail will be revoked and you will wait for your trial in jail. Here is some more bad news. We don’t need the Lady Tigers to testify, because they didn’t see anything. But, I can, and I will testify as to what I saw. As far as your friends from Gaynor, well, they have also been arrested for aiding and abetting a felony suspect out on bail. Tomorrow, Mr. Elliott, you will go before the judge, who will additional charges against you. Let’s go, you have a date with the district attorney.
Next Time: Gaynor parents in court; new charges for David Elliot and the Hampton Lady Tigers practice for three more days.

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