Leigh Anne - Chapter 23
By Barbara Lynn Terry
Part 1 - The last day of practice.
They got to the Greater Midland Tennis Center* on East Wackerly Street. They parked in the spots that were reserved especially for them. Leslie Rhymes had her own reserved parking space. They all got their equipment and headed for the courts one last time. From here they would be on their way the state capitol of Lansing.
They set their bags by the bleachers and sat down. Mrs. Madison addressed the group.
“Ladies, this is our last day of practice here. From here we go to Lansing. We will leave after we do a bit of laundry. Then I will check us out of the hotel, and we will be on our way. We leave tonight, or very early in the morning. Lansing is a few hours away.
“I want Mary Whithers and Susan Winters on court one, and I want Patricia Langston and Donna Sanchez on court two. Miss Rhymes will coach court two, while I will coach court one. Ladies, please take your courts. Susan, you will serve first. Patricia, you serve first on your court. I want to see aggressive playing, ladies. Alright, you may serve when ready.
Susan served her first ball for an ace.
“15 - Love,” Leslie Rhymes called. That was a very good serve, Susan. This is what we need to see at state.”
“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called.
Patty served her first ball, and Donna attempted to return, but it hit her side if the net.
“30 - Love. Donna, you have to pay more attention. Remember, be aggressive without letting your emotions show. Get fighting mad, but don’t lose your cool.”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison,” Donna Sanchez replied.
On Susan’s court, the volley between Susan and Mary was still going on. This was an eight minute volley** so far. As these two ladies were hitting the ball back and forth, Patty served her next ball.
Donna returned the ball, and she and Patty were in to a fierce battle for the next point. Patty hit the ball back to Donna for a score.
“40 - Love. Donna, I hope that you play better than this at state. You still have a chance, but Patty has triple game point, right now. Alright, Patty, you may serve. Patricia Langston served her next ball for an ace.
On Susan’s court, they were still playing. Susan and Mary were really playing like they were at the state semi-finals and finals. Mary hit the ball back to Susan for the point.
“15 all,” called Leslie Rhymes. That was a very good return Mary. Your game is right where we want it for state.”
Susan Winters served her next ball, but Mary Whithers returned it with force.
“15 - 30, Whithers,” Leslie called.
Susan served again and this time she planted the ball right at Mary’s left foot. To Susan’s surprise, Mary got her racquet under the ball and returned it. This volley went on for ten minutes, before Mary missed the ball at the far right corner.
”30 all,” Leslie announced.
The next serve from Susan ended up right on the line.
“40 - 30,” Leslie called.
Mary challenged the call, because she said it was out. Leslie went to where the ball had landed. She showed Mary that the ball hit the line, and that was why she called it in. Mary was now determined to defeat Susan Winters. Mary Whithers was now fighting mad, but kept her cool.
Susan was determined to get the next point and win the game. Susan served and the ball was called as a fault. She served her second ball and Mary returned it. Susan was very confident that she was going to get the next point. That was until she hit the ball in to the net.
“Deuce,” Leslie Rhymes called.
Susan just shrugged her shoulders, and served her next ball. The game could only be won now, by two points.This volley was lasting and lasting. Ten minutes had gone by, and Susan and Mary were still trying to make the other mess up.
Finally, after fourteen minutes, Susan stumbled slightly, and the point went to Mary.
“Advantage, Whithers,” Leslie called. “Ladies, I have received permission to go to state with you. I will be sharing a room with Mrs. Madison. I actually asked to go, because this way we have two cars. Alright, Susan, you may serve.”
Susan served with the utmost determination. The ball hit the right hand corner, and Mary missed it. If Mary’s racquet had been lower by an inch, maybe, she might have won the point.
“Deuce two,” Leslie called the point in favor of Susan. “This is a nice game, ladies. We need to see this spirit at state. Alright, Susan, you may serve.”
As the game between Susan and Mary was still going on, Mrs. Madison called for Colleen Sanders and Dorothy Winston to take court one.
“Dot, you serve first. I want to see aggressive playing, ladies.”
Dorothy served her first ball, and Colleen returned it for the first fifteen points.
“Love - 15. That was a good return Colleen.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Madison.”
Dot served her next ball. Colleen returned it, and the volley last a good eight minutes. That was only because Dorothy hit the ball in to her side of the net.
“Love - 30. Dorothy, you are not playing like your usual self. Let’s get on track here. Listen, ladies, you can’t slough off like this at state. If you ladies really want that trophy, you have to play better than this.”
Dorothy’s next ball was hit for an ace.
“15 - 30.”
Dorothy served again, but she hit it in to the net, again.
Dot served again, and the volley lasted for four minutes, when Dot hot the ball in to her side of the net.
“15 - 40.”
“Miss Winston, you are playing like a beginner. Let’s go, you can’t play like this at state. We want the state championship trophy. Now play like you are playing Geri Watkins at Gaynor.”
That was all it took. Dot served with a fierce determination. This is war. It was 15 - 40 in favor of Colleen. This serve was an ace.
“30 - 40. That is the way to do this. Ladies, when you feel yourselves slipping, think of Geraldine Watkins and all of the dirty tricks she played on us, trying to win. Of course, that was cheating, but, I don’t think she cared.
Dorothy served her next ball for a return by Colleen that lasted ten minutes. Colleen on her last return, spiked the ball hard, giving her the game.
“Game, Colleen. Good work, ladies,” Leslie Rhymes said, congratulating the girls on a game well played.
“Now,” Mrs. Madison started saying. “I want Cheryl Masters and Darlene Haskins on court one. Darlene, you will serve first.
Darlene served her first ball, and Cheryl returned it. The volley between these two players went on for fifteen minutes. Darlene and Cheryl were matched to each other in a tennis game. It was a good thing they were on the same team.
Darlene was playing like Cheryl was Geraldine Watkins from Gaynor. Cheryl was doing the same. This is the reason this volley was taking so long. Both girls knew that they would have to play like this at the state championship games in Lansing.
The volley ended when Darlene hit the ball a little too hard, and it went out of bounds.
“Love - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. “Ladies, you just saw how Cheryl and Darlene played this opening serve. This is the kind of playing I want to see at state. You may serve, Darlene.”
Darlene served her second ball, and it was called as a fault. That was because it hit her side of the net. She served her second ball and it was returned. Here comes another long volley, Mrs. Madison thought. Cheryl Masters and Darlene Haskins volleyed back and forth for about four minutes, before Cheryl hit the ball out.
“15 all,” Mrs. Madison called.
The next serve was for an ace.
“30 - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. The next serve, however, was returned.
The volley went on and on, just like the first serve. As the minutes went by, the two girls were going racquet to racquet. A person might become dizzy watching the ball going back and forth. So far, nine minutes have gone by, and each girl showed no sign of letting up. Then fourteen minutes later, Darlene hit the ball in to her side of the net.
“30 all,” Mrs. Madison announced.
Mrs. Madison was not going to give a compliment as to how each girl was playing. She would not be allowed to do this at state, so she wasn’t going to do that now. This game, and the game before, showed Mrs. Madison the kind of playing these girls were capable of.
As the game progressed, Cheryl and Darlene were still volleting Darlene’s next serve. These two were playing as if they weree at state. That was the way Mrs. Madison wanted her squad to play, when they have to face the other regional champions. Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes watched this game with fascination.
This would be the last two to practice before they had to get their laundry done, check out of the hotel, and head for MSU*** at Lansing.
Cheryl then lobbed the ball and Darlene was unable to return it.
“30 - 40, Masters,” Mrs. Madison called out the score. “Double game point.”
Darlene, determined to get the next point, served the ball. It was called as a fault. She served her next ball, and Cheryl returned it for the score.
“Game, Master,” Leslie Rhymes called.
“Alright, ladies, we need to put our gear away and head back to the hotel. We will do laundry at the hotel laundry room, and when we are done with that, then we head for MSU,” Mrs. Madison told the girls.
They put their tennis gear in to their bags, and loaded them in to both cars. Leslie took four girls, while Mrs. Madison took the other four. Since Leigh rode with Mrs. Madison yesterday, she rode with Leslie Rhymes today. She would also ride with Leslie on the way to MSU.
They arrived back at the hotel, and the first thing Mrs. Madison said was, that four girls do their laundry first, then the other four would do theirs. Of course, there were only two washers and three dryers. So, it would take a while for the girls to do their laundry.
The reason they were doing their laundry now was, so that each girl would have clean clothes while they were at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan. The state semi-finals and finals for the state championship was a day away.
“Colleen Sanders, Dorothy Winston, Darlene Haskins, and Mary Whithers, you are the first four to do your laundry. Leigh Anne Smythe, Patricia Langston, Cheryl Masters, and Donna Sanchez will do their laundry second,” Mrs. Madison told the group.
The first group went to the laundry room. There was no one there, and no clothes were being washed or dried. Two girls would use one washer. That would put each washer and two dryers in use. Since it didn’t pay for all four girls to remain in the laundry room, they took a vote to see who would ‘stand guard’ over their laundry. Colleen was elected, and the other three went back to their room.
Leslie Rhymes was in the room, when Dot, Darlene and Mary entered the room. They told Leslie that Colleen was watching the laundry room, and that they would go back down in time to get their laundry. Leslie said that when they go down, the other four would go with them, so that nobody else could use the machines until they were completely done.
Now, everybody knows that it takes about thirty minutes for clothes to wash and approcimately thirty minutes to one hour for clothes to dry, depending on the material. Sometimes it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to dry, depending on the material. Laundry can be very tedious and time consuming. Especially for those that do their laundry once a week.
While Darlene, Dorothy and Mary were waiting for their laundry to get done, they busied themselves by talking about the last two game. Dorothy, was the first to speak.
“Those last two games were fun to watch. When the semi-finals start, we need to play like that. That is what Mrs. Madison meant by telling us that she wanted aggressive playing.”
“You’re right, Dot. We need to get really fighting mad, without showing our emotions to our opponents. We need to show this state and this country who is the best tennis squad.”
“I agree, Dalene,” Mary agreed. “With our trophy in safe keeping, we need to really play, like we have never played before. We need to be super energetic. That is possible, because the honor of our school has been slightly tarnished. But, we can get some tarnish remover called, LET’S KICK SOME SERIOUS BUTT!”
The other four girls agreed. Leigh said that she hopes that she gets to play first. This way, we can get rid of one school. “
“But, watch me closely, because I do have a few tricks loaded in to my racquet. Remember, too, that we are not only playing the fifty states, but also Puerto Rico. So we have to be fater than our opponents and more observant. They stole our trophy, let’s get it back, plus the state trophy and the nationals trophy.”
All of the girls agreed with Leigh Anne. The Hampton Lady Tigers were steamed, and they were going let that steam out when they get to Lansing and play against fifty-one champions. They will be very over tired after the nationals tennis chapionship tournament. But, in each of their minds, it will be worth it.
Dorothy, Darlene and Mary, went down to the laundry room, and waited for the twenty minutes left on the dryer. Leigh Anne, Donna, Chery, and Patty went down with them. Because there were tennis outfits from four girls, it took a while for the outfits to dry. The dryer finally stopped, but the other four girls were already putting their clothes in the washers. This laundry belonged to the Hampton High School varsity Lady Tigers.
Leigh said she would stay and watch the machines. If you have ever bought a tennis outfit or even a racquet, you will know why these high school girls guarded their outfits. The cheapest tennis gear there is, the cans of tennis balls. But Leigh brought a word search book with her, so she wouldn’t be bored.
“Well, ladies, after our laubdry is done, I will check out of the hotel, and we will be on our way. The tournament doesn’t start until the day after tomorrow. So, we will have plenty of time to check in and get our gear organized. It will take us about four and a half to five hours to get there. Once we are there, we will find a tennis court to practice on. I don’t want the other schools to see how we play; not just yet.”
“We are going to be awfully tired tomorrow night. I just hope we can get up by seven in the morning,” Leigh said, feigning a yawn.
“You can say that again, Leigh,” Cheryl Masters added.
“Don’t worry, ladies, we will have plenty of rest. I want to find out just where the parks are that have tennis courts. I will say this, though. The other schools may have the same idea. So, when we do go to a park to practice, do not wear your tennis outfits. Just wear shorts and a cool top, like a tee.”
“Yeah,” Donna Sanchez agreed. “We had a little snow, but it melted as soon as it fell. This is a very unusual winter. If I didn’t know the month, I would say that this was summer.”
“Well, we will take state,” Mrs. Madison said. “From what I saw today, we will take state. Nationals, however, are a different matter. We are all going to have to be the game, in order to win. So, for the week we have between state and nationals, we will practice, practice, and do more practice until we’re playing tennis in our sleep.”
Next chapter: The trip to Lansing and the state semi-finals and finals state tennis chapionship.
*Greater Midland Tennis Center, 900 East Wackerly Street, Midland, MI 48642 - Tel: 989-631-6151.
**Volley (definition): 4. Tennis: a. The flight of the ball before it hits the ground; the return of the ball before it hits the ground.
***MSU Tennis Center
3571 East Mt. Hope Road.
Lansing, MI 48910
Heather MacTaggart - Manager
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.