Leigh Anne - Chapter 22
By Barbara Lynn Terry
(Author’s Note: I will remind all of my readers that the places I describe or mention in my stories, are real places that actually exist. However, because this is fiction, these places have been mentioned in the deep canyons of the author’s imagination. Barbara)
There comes a time in every tennis player’s life when they face an indecision on the court. Leigh was having one of those days. It was a good thing too, as this was only practice.
Everyone left the hotel and went back to the tennis center. When parked in the spots reserved for them, they took their racquets and cans of tennis balls to the courts. They set everything by the bleachers and took their racquets and a few tennis balls to the courts.
They took turns practicing, until Mrs. Madison called that it was time to practice their tennis plays that they had been doing
“Leigh,” Mrs. Madison started saying. “You and Colleen will a play single set, then Susan will play the winner. Everybody will get a chance to play. Then tomorrow, we will play doubles. Alright, the girls not playing will watch from the bleachers.”
Leigh Anne Smythe was conidered by Mrs. Madison and the team, to be the best player on the squad. Leigh knew just about every tennis trick in the book. The reason Leigh hasn’t used them, is because she wanted the other members of the squad to have confidence in their own abilities as tennis players.
But, now, with the regional championship trophy having been taken by the Midland police, all bets were off. Leigh was now going to show the other members of the squad just how to play tennis.
I held back on my abilities to give the squad enough confidence to be able to play, should something happen where I can’t play. I am now going to show the squad what they need to know to go to state. Are you with me, ladies?”
A cheer of “right on” echoed through the Midland Tennis Center.
Leigh and Colleen took the court, and Mrs. Madison flipped a coin. Colleen called heads while the coin was in the air. It landed on heads, so it was Colleen Sanders serve.
Colleen served a shot that looked like it would land just inside Leigh’s side of the net. Leigh ran as fast as she could, and returned the ball for a chip shot. Colleen was unable to return the ball, and the point was Leigh Anne’s.
“Love - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. “That was a very good return, Leigh.”
Colleen’s next serve landed almost out, but Leigh returned it. This volley last six minutes, when Leigh hit the ball so that it landed at Colleen’s right foot. Colleen was unprepared for this, so she could not return it.
“Love - 30. That was a very good play Leigh. Was that on purpose or just by chance?”
“It was done on purpose, Mrs. Madison. I learned how to do this when I would play with my friends on the neighborhood courts at Burnham Park.”
“Are there other tricks that you can show us?”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison, several.”
“Alright, Colleen, you may serve.”
Colleen served her next ball, but it was called out. Colleen served her second ball, and it went wild out of bounds.
“Love - 40. Colleen, don’t allow emotion to set in. Just play it cool; of course, you can be fighting mad, but keep your cool.”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison,” Colleen replied.
Colleen served her next ball, and the volley lasted several minutes, before Colleen backhanded her racquet, making the ball drop dead on Leigh’s side of the net.
“15 - 40. Nice play, Colleen. I hope you can do that at state.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Madison, we will take state.”
“That is what I like about this team,” Mrs. Madison said. “You all have a zest for winning. Now, I want Dorothy Winston and Mary Whithers on the court. Remember, ladies, practice those lobs, aces, chip shots and slams. We need these plays to take state, maybe even the nationals. Alright girls, let’s see aggressive playing. Dot, you serve first.”
Dorothy Winston served her first ball. Mary Whithers returned the ball and the volley lasted for six minutes. Then Dot hit the ball to the far left corner of where Mary was standing.
“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called. “Mary, anticipate where the ball is going to land on your side of the court. You can tell this by the body language of your opponent, and by the way your opponent holds her racquet. The score is 15 - Love in favor of Dot.”
Dorothy served her mext ball. Mary returned it for a point.
“15 - 15. Good return Mary.”
Dorothy served her next ball. She threw up higher than usual, and attempted a slam. It worked, as Mary was unprepared for that kind of serve. Leigh Anne knew exactly what Dot was going to do. Of course, this play doesn’t always work.
“30 - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. “Mary, that ball was returnable. You didn’t anticipate. Watch your opponent. Be ready for anything. I want this squad to be the number one squad in the whole country.”
“Right On!” All the girls said in unison.
Alright then, the score is 30 - 15, Dot’s favor. Dot, you may serve.
Dorothy served and Mary returned the ball. This volley lasted for seven minutes, before Dorothy hit a slam.
“40 - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. Mary, what seems to be wrong? That ball was returnable. You seem like you are standing still. Let’s get aggressive.”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison,” Mary Whithers replied.
Dorothy served her next ball for an ace.
“Game, Dorothy Winston. Mary, please sit down for a bit. I am going to have you play again, but, I want you to watch this next game. I want Donna Sanchez and Cheryl Masters on the court. Cheryl, you will serve first.
Cheryl’s first serve was an ace.
“15 - Love,” Mrs. Madison called. “Donna, let’s get aggressive. Alright, you may serve, Cheryl.”
Cheryl’s next serve was returned. This volley went on for several minutes, until Donna did what is called a chip shot, or a drop ball.
“15 - 15. That is the way to do it, Donna.”
The next serve was returned by Donna, but, Cheryl hit the ball out.
“15 - 30. Don’t hit the ball so hard, Cheryl. Hit it just so it goes over the net.”
“I will try, Mrs. Madison,” Cheryl replied.
Cheryl served again, but this time, it was an ace.
“30 - 30.”
The next serve was returned, and the volley lasted for eight minutes. The volley ended when Donna hit the ball too hard. It went all the way to the wall behind Cheryl.
“40 - 30, Cheryl. Alright, ladies, you are all excellent tennis players. Any one of you could be a pro tennis player. But, you have to watch how hard you hit the ball. Watch the vody language of your opponent and how your opponent holds hennr racquet.
“Donna, that last ball was hit way too hard. This isn’t handball. This is tennis. Every careful you do not do this at state. Your opponent will pick up on this and try to use it against you. We not only want to be the number one tennis squad in the state of Michigan, but in the entire country. Now let’s pay attention to the game. Cheryl, you may serve when ready.”
Cheryl served her bext ball, and it was returned. Donna was determined, now, to even the score. On her next serve, Cheryl hit the ball hard and fast, and it turned out to be an ace.
“Game, Cheryl.” Mrs. Madison called. That was a good slam, Cheryl. Now, I want Susan Winters and Mary Whithers to take the court. Mary, I want you to give everything you’ve got in this game. We are going to need that at state. Mary, you serve first.”
Mary served the ball like her wrist was broken.
“Stop!” Mrs. Madison yelled. “Mary, what is with you? You don’t seem interested in the game.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Madison. I guess I am just exhausted.”
“You cannot afford to be exhausted. We will be playing every regional chanpion in the state. If you show one ounce of exhaustion, those teams will run it over us. Now, let’s get back in to the spirit of playing tennis. Now, let’s start over. Mary, serve your second ball, and this time like you mean it.”
Mary served her second ball, as the first was counted as a foul. Susan returned the ball and the volley was going on and on, until Susan ran for the net, but wasn’t in time to keep the ball from bouncing twice on her side.
“15 - Love. Mary, tha is the kind of game we need to see from all of you at Lansing. Alright, Mary, you may serve.”
Mary served her next ball, and it was returned for an eight minute volley. That was only because Susan hit her return for a slam.
“15 - 15. Mary, did you see how Susan did that?”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison,” replied Mary Whithers.
With the score tied, Mary served her next ball with as much determination as she could muster. It worked, because Mary got the point for an ace.
“30 - 15,” Mrs. Madison called. “Mary, that is what I want to see at state. That was a very goof ace.”
With the score now in her favor, Mary served her next ball ever so slightly, but just hard enough to get the ball over the net. Susan Winters was unable to return it.
“40 - 15. That is what we beed to see at state, too, ladies. Mary, was that serve on purpose?”
“Yes, Mrs. Madison. I figured if I hit the ball just hard enough to get it over the net, I would win the point.”
“Well, it worked. Serve when ready.”
Mary tried to serve an ace, but Susan returned it. Susan then made an error in judgement and when she tried to return the ball, it hit her side of the net.
“Game, Mary. Now do you see, Mary, that of you give all you have in to the game, you will win the points. Alright, gitls, that is enough practice for today. Let’s go and get dinner, and then go back to the hotel.”
The group went to a place called Gen-Ars.* Gen-Ars has round tables big enough to seat eight people. They also have booths. Because the girls had been exercising, they were just a tad hungry. They ordered three beer battered chicken dinners.** for the group to share. The coaches ordered a salad plate apiece. The coaches ordered milk for the girls and themselves, plus coffee for the two adults. During dinner, the conversation was, again, on the upcoming state tournament in Lansing.
“Alright,” Leigh started the conversation. “With the trophy in the police station, I say it is time to show this state just what the Hampton Senior High School Lady Tigers are made of. But, because we are fighting mad, doesn’t mean we can’t keep our cool. Mary, you had a few indecisive moments.
“It is like Mrs. Madison said, we cannot have these kinds of indecisions on the court at state. We want three trophys. Our regioanl one, the state trophy and the nationals trophy. The only way we can get them, is by concentrating on the game, no matter how tired and exhausted we are.”
“You’re right, Leigh,” Susan Winters replied. “Ladies, we can ve fighting mad, but we need to let our racquets and game ability show our fighting mad spirit. Don’t even say grrrrrr on the court. Just play the game as fiercely as you can without showing obvious emotions.”
“This is the only way we can win state,” Mary Whithers added.
Mrs. Madison turned around in her chair.
“Ladies, tomorrow is the last day of practice. After we are finished with practice, we must get on the bus and head for Lansing. I understand that Mr. Thompson will be here with several students cheering us on to victory. So, are we finished with our meal? I see that we are, so, let’s go back to the hotel.”
Since it was on;y seven o’clock, the girls decided to watch television. In this day and age of cable and satellite tv, the girls decided to “surf” the channels to see what was on that was good. They came across a 1954 musical movie called Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell. There was funny moments mixed with the serious ones. All in all, it was a delightful movie.
When the movie ended, the girls brushed their teeth, washed up, got in to their night clothes and crawled in to their beds. The girls were in two rooms, while Mrs. Madison slept in the other. With the regional championship trophy in police custody, they didn’t worry about anyone trying to steal it. But, yes, you guessed it, trouble was brewing again.
By mutual agreement between the Midland, Michigan police department and the hotel where the girls are staying, officer Joe Hines was acting as night manager. This was so he could keep an eye on the Hampton Senior High Lady Tigers. I wasn’t long after the girls went to sleep, that Gaynor Senior High School parent paid a visit to the hotel desk.
As he walked in to the hotel office, Mary Brehm smiled and greeted the prospective customer.
“Yes, sir, may I help you?”
“Yeah, you can tell me what room that faggot is in. I came to get the trophy that is rightfully ours.”
“Just a minute, sir, I have to get the night manager.” Mary disappeared, momentarily, in to an office marked private. She came out a minute later with officer Joe Hines.
“May I help you, sir?” Officer Hines inquired.
“Like I told the lady, here. I want the room number of the faggot that stole our trophy.”
“Sir, we can’t give out that information.”
As the man reached behind him, Joe Hines had his service revolver out.
“Sir, I am officer Joseph Hines, Midland police department. You are under arrest. Place your hands where I can see them.”
The man, obviously under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, or both, was still drawing his gun.
“Mary, open the front door.”
Mary Brehm went and opened the front door to the hotel office.
“Sir, so you see that little branch on the tree across the street? Watch it closely.”
Joe Hines fired his weapon, and the small branch, not more than a twig, flew from the tree.
“Would you like that to be your head?” Officer Joe Hines asked the man.
The man gulped and said no. He surrendered his firearm to officer Hines.
“Sir, do you have a permit for this weapon?”
Then you are under arrest for also carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
“Then, sir, you also have an added charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. These charges will get you quite a bit of time in Pontiac, ir whatever prison they send you to. What is your name?”
“I don’t have to tell you anything. I just came for our trophy.”
“Oh! You mean the highly contested regional championship trophy now held by the Hampton Senior High Lady Tigers.”
“Yes, they cheated us out of it by cheating. They put a boy on their tennis team, just so they could win. That is an undue advantage.”
“Well, this trophy is in our custody until the MHSAA completes their investigation. Miss Debbie Constantine of the MHSAA will not take part in the investigation. This will a completely impartial investigation.”
“Yeah, like I’m supposed to believe that.”
“Whether you do or not, that is the way it will be. Mary, call for a transport car. We have another Gaynor High School parent in trouble.” Mary giggled and called the station for a squad to pick up a suspect.
The girls were fast asleep and unaware of the events that took place in the hotel office.
The next morning, the girls got up, took their showers, brushed their teeth, and got in to their tennis outfits for the last day of practice at the Midland Tennis Center. Leslie Rhymes came up in her car, just as the girls were coming out of their rooms.
“Ms. Rhymes, are you joining us for breakfast?”
“Yes, Susan, I am. Four girls can ride with me, and the other four can ride with Mrs. Madison. Where are we going?”
“Bob Evans,” a chorus of eight girls rang out.
They all got in to the two cars, and headed for the Bob Evans restaurant they had been going to since they came to Midland. Mrs. Madison and Leslie pulled in to the parking lot, and they all assembled as group.
As they walked in, the hostess took them to two booths. She handed them their menus, and went to get their water. The waitress brought the water, and then asked if they were ready to order. Mrs. Madison said they were. The waitress took their orders and said she would be right back with their drinks.
Mrs. Madison ordered for the girls. They were having a simple breakfast of two eggs, two sausage links, one slice of toast, milk and orange juice for the girls. Mrs. Madison was having the same. Leslie Rhymes ordered pancakes, two strips of bacon, milk and orange juice.
As they ate, they heard a few people talking about how the police arrested a man for carrying a gun, in the hotel office. This how rumors start. People talk about things they don’t have all of the facts about.
The group finished their breakfast, and Mrs. Madison paid the bill with the school’s credit card. When they got by the cars, Leigh spoke up.
“Mrs. Madison, what were those people talking about in the restaurant? They said the police arrested a man in the hotel office with a gun.”
“I’m not sure, Leigh. I guess it wasn’t anything to do with us. Now, let’s clear our heads and go practice.”
They all got in to the cars, and drove to the Midland Tennis Center. When they got to the center, the girls all got their tennis bags out. These bags carried their racquets, change of clothes, spare tennis balls and energy drinks. They will need these energy drinks at state.
Next Chapter: The last day of practice and the trip to Michigan State University for the state semi-finals and finals.
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