Leigh Anne - Chapter 25

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Leigh Anne - Chapter 25
By Barbara Lynn Terry

Part 1 - Dinner and return to the hotel.

After practice was over, the girls, Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes went to the nearest Bob Evans restaurtant. Mrs. Madison ordered hamburgers, French fries, cittage cheese and milk for the girls. Leslie Rhymes and Mrs. Madison just ordered a chef’s salad and coffee.

With their dinner finished, Mrs. Madison paid the bill. They all went out to the two cars, and headed back to the hotel. . When they got back to their rooms, they noticed something wasn’t right. They all looked around their rooms and found that their closets, dressers, suit cases and beds had been disturbed. They didn’t know who, but Mrs. Madison guessed that whomever it was, was looking for the trophy.

Mrs. Madison called the Lansing police and told them the problem. They said not to worry, that they were sending someone right over. Mrs. Madison cautioned the girls to leave everything like it is and not to touch anything. Fifteen minutes later, two Lansing police officers knocked on Mrs. Madison’s door. She let the two officers in. She explained what had happened, and then explained about the trophy.

“Yes, we read about the trophy in the newspaper. So, the Midland police have the trophy in their custody. We will do an investigation and see who would want to find that trophy here. I think we have enough information. If we need more, we will contact you.”

“If we’re not here, we will be at the tournament at the MSU Tennis Center.”

“Alright, here is my card. If you find out anything, or remember anything, give me a call.”

The two officers left. Mrs. Madison, after taing pictures of both rooms, told the girls to start straightening up.

“Ladies, whoever did this, is either a fan of Gaynor or is a parent or alumni of Gaynor. What ever they wanted, and I think we all know what that is, the person or persons that are responsible, wanted us to know they were here.”

With everybody working, it only took two hours to get everything straightened up. After they cleaned both rooms, they all settled down to watch a movie. Leslie Rhymes made popcorn. The movie they were going to watch was abother oldie. Anna and the King of Siam with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison. It was made in 1946.

“I love these old movies,” Leigh Anne told the group.

“I do too,” replied Mary Whithers

They actually laughed at some of the things in the movie. Mrs. Madison told the girls that this movie was actually based on true events. This made the girls watch it with more interest.

Irene Dunne played the part of an American nanny in the employ of the King of Siam. Often, the two cultures clashed. When the movie was over, there were hugs good night, and everybody got ready for bed. Tomorrow was going to be a grueling day of practice.

Part 2 - Practice, practice, practice.

Why does it seem that as soon as you close your eyes, it is time to wake up. This is how it seemed to the girls. They grumbled and moaned a little, but got out of bed any way. After they were cleaned and dressed in shorts, tees, anklets and runners, they decided to go to the nearest restaurant for breakfast. Then it was off to the courts for more practice.

Leigh wondered to herself, if they would have enough energy to actually compete. She sighed silently, and waited for her order to come. Leigh wondered if the other girls were thinking the same thing.

The waitress brought the group their orders. Most of the girls ordered pancakes, sausage links, orange juice and milk. They would need this energy for their practice sessions. While they ate, the girls, Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes, talked about what they needed to practice on for the tournament.

“Remember ladies, we need to practice those chip shots, curve shots, slams and any other way you can think of hitting the ball. This way your opponent will have a difficult time returning the ball. We want to win this one.”

“We all agree, Mrs. Madison,” Cheryl Masters added.

“Mrs. Madison, I have a few tricks that I can show everyone,” Leigh told her tennis coach.

“That is really good, Leigh. I am looking forward yp watching you play. I think that maybe you and Patricia will be first. Is everybody finished eating?”

All the girls said they were. They got up to leave. Mrs. Madison paid the bill, and everyone went out to the cars. Mrs Madison and Leslie Rhymes drove the girls to a different park than the one they used for the last practice session. This park had four more courts than the last one. When the cars were parked, the girls got out and took their tennis gear from each trunk. They commandeered four of the eight courts. This way, two girls could play on each court at the same time.

Mrs. Madison watched over courts one and two, while Leslie Rhymes watched over courts three and four. Leigh and Patty were on the first court; Donna Sanchez and Darlene Haskins were on court two. Cheryl Masters and Dorothy Winston were on court three, and Colleen Sanders and Mary Whithers were on court four. This first game was going to be watched closely by the coaches.

Mrs. Madison told Leigh to receive. This way, Leigh could show her opponent a few tricks so that the opponent would either not be able to return the ball, or would have difficulty doing so.

Patty served her first ball. She attempted a chip shot, but Leigh returned it with a curve. Patty was slow in getting to where the ball landed. That was because she was not expecting Leigh to return the ball the way she did. The lesson here is, always expect the unexpected.

Patty served again. This time, the vall was volleyed bacj and forth for several minutes. When the ball came back to Leigh, Leigh slammed it toward Patty’s right foot. The ball bounced off of the toe of Patty’s right foot. The score was now Love - 30.

Patty served for the third time, and tried to serve a curve. Leigh returned the ball with a swift curve. Patty was unable to return the ball. That was mainly because of the speed in which Leigh returned the ball. The score was now Love - 40.

Patty was now getting her second wind. She was getting mad, but wasn’t letting Leigh see her emotion. Patty served ahain, and this time she aimed for the far right corner. This serve was an ace. The score was now 15 - 40. Leigh Anne now had triple game point. Patty’s next serve was aimed at the far left of Leigh’s side, but Leigh was expecting that, and returned the ball. It landed om the near left side, just inside the foul line.

“Game, Leigh Anne,” Mrs. Madison called. “Leigh, those were very impressive moves. Where did you learn to play like that?”

“Whenever I played tennis with my friends, I always tried something new. I imitated the moves I the moves I saw pro tennis players do, and I improved on them.”

“Now you know why we wanted Leigh on the squad,” Patty told Mrs. Madison.

“Yes, Patricia, I see why. Leigh could be a pro tennis player now, if it weren’t for her age.”

“Ladies, all I want to do is finish high school and go to college. I may be a pro tennis player, yet. But I don’t really know right now.”

Mrs. Madison thought that what Leigh just said, was a very good explanation of her future. Leigh wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, except she knew that she wanted to go to college after high school. But, Mrs. Madison thought, Leigh Anne Smythe was a very exceptional tennis player right now.

Leslie Rhymes was thinking that with Leigh on the squad, her alma mater would take the state and national competitions. She was also thinking that Leigh was a very exceptional tennis player, for being so young.

Mrs. Madison called all the girls togetherm after all the games were finished. She addressed the group.

“Ladies, I want you all to watch Darlene and Leigh play. Watch how Leigh can prevent her opponent from scoring and or returning the ball. Patty just experienced how good Leigh really is. So, Darlene and Leigh please take court one? Leigh you will receive. Alright, Darlene, you may serve when you are ready.”

Darlene served her first ball, and Leigh ran to return it. Leigh just tapped it over the net with a light stroke. The ball bounced twice. The score was now Love - 15. This stroke was not a chip shot, but it was an actual drop ball.

Darlene served her next ball. Leigh slammed it on return. The ball hit Darlene’s racquet, and she attempted to return it to Leigh. But, the ball hit Darlene’s side of the net. The score was now Love - 30. Leslie Rhymes and Mrs. Madison watched this game with fascination.

When a fourteen year old teen can play like the tennis pros, then the Hampton Lady Tigers would take both state and national competitions. Darlene served her nest ball.

Leigh returned the ball for a scoring slam. The score was now Love - 40. Darlene served again, but it was called out. She served again, and Leigh slammed the ball to Darlene’s far left corner for the game.

“Game, Leigh Anne. Ladies, these are the strokes I would like to see you all practice. You saw how Leigh kept her opponent scorless. This is what I want you to practice on today. Tomorrow starts the state competitions. I want Donna Sancbez and Cheryl Masters on court one.

“Remember ladies, practice how you saw Leigh play, or as close to those plays that you can get. Donna, you will serve first.”

Donna served her first ball. Cheryl returned it for a drop ball score. The score was now Love - 15.

Yes, it is true that Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes were running the girls ‘ragged”, but this is how pro tennis players play. Mrs. Madison was thinking that if the girls wanted to win, they would have to work, and work hard for the state and national championships. Donna served her next ball.

Cheryl Masters returned the ball, and in an attempt to return it, Donna hit the ball in to her side of the net. The score was now Love - 30. Cheryl Masters was the second best player on the squad. Cheryl could actually give Leigh a run for her money.

Donna served again, and Cheryl returned it. Donna hit the ball back to Cheryl. Cheryl returned it to Donna, but the fell short of Donna’s racquet. The score was now Love - 40. Donna served again.

Cheryl returned the ball, and there was a volley lasting several minutes. Cheryl then chipped the ball. It landed just by the net on Donna’s side.

“Game, Cheryl,” Mrs.Madison called the score. “That is the way to play, Cheryl. Alright, ladies, pair up and decide who will serve first. I will judge courts three and four, while Leslie will judge courts one and two. I want you to practice the plays you saw Leigh and Cheryl do. This is the only way we can take the state and national championships.”

Because Cheryl was a very good player, she asked Leigh if they could practice together. Leigh said yes, because Leigh knew there were a few things she could teach Cheryl. They played rock, paper, scissors. Cheryl won the first serve.

Cheryl served her first ball. She hit the ball lughtly, but with enough force to get it over the net. Lrigh ran to return it, and dropped the ball over the net. Cheryl, being unprepared for this, lost the point. The score was now Love - 15.

Cheryl served her next ball, but Leigh was prepared for the ball to land just inside the base line. Leigh returned the ball, and she and Cheryl volleyed back and forth for a few minutes before Leigh slammed the ball. The score was now Love - 30.

“Cheryl, remember what I said earlier. You have to expect the unexpected. Play your game by keeping your eye on the ball at all times. Cheryl, I have learned several ways to watch the ball. That is because I play tennis with my friends. Each time we play, I always learn something new. Expect the unexpected.”

“Alright, Leigh, let’s see if I can pick this up.”

Cheryl served her third ball. This time the volley lasted five minutes. Cheryl hit the ball at a slant, but Leigh returned it. This volley lasted a little longer than five minutes. Cheryl dropped the ball over the net, but Leigh showed her how to expect the unexpected. Laigh dropped the ball back over the net. The score was now Love - 40.

Cheryl served again, but Leigh returned it. Cheryl tried to slam it, but Leigh returned the ball. Cheryl, trying to score, hit the ball lightly, only to find Leigh there at the net to return it. Cheryl returned the ball with a more force this time, but Leigh caught it in mid air and slammed it for the score.

“Game, Leigh,” Mrs. Madsion called. “Cheryl, you are a way better player than the game you just played. Leigh showed you during this game how to expect the unexpected. Now, I want Leigh to serve, and this time Cheryl be more observant. Keep your eye on the ball at all times.”

“Yes, Mrs. Madison,” Cheryl answered.

Leigh served her first ball for an ace. That made the score 15 - Love. Leigh served again, but this time, Cheryl returned it. The volley lasted about ten minutes, when Leigh hit the ball ever so lightly. The ball dropped over the net, and Cheryl was not fast enough to return it. This made the score 30 - Love.

Leigh’s next serve was fast, but Cheryl returned it. This volley went for several minutes, before Cheryl attempted to slam it, only to have Leigh return it for another score. The svore was now 40 - Love. Mrs. Madison motioned for all the girls to watch this next point in Leigh and Cheryl’s game.

Leigh served the ball, but Cheryl returned as a slam. Leigh could not return it. The score was now 40 - 15. Leigh served omce more for an ace.

“Game, Leigh,” was Mrs. Madison’s call. “Now, I want Donna and Cheryl to play. Let’s play tennis, ladies. You’re all slacking off, except for Leigh. Practice those plays that Leigh showed you. Cheryl, change sides with Donna.”

Donna served first. Cheryl sliced the return, and it dropped over the net. It bounced twice.

“Love - 15,” Mrs. Madison called in an agitated tone. “We are here to practice for the state semi-finals and finals. This is not a leisurely weekend, but this practice is for us to get ready to knock the tar out of all of the schools that will be competing. Now, let’s get down to sharpening those brass tacks.”

Getting down to brass tacks was the order of the day. Mrs. Madison wanted her girls to be the finest in the state of Michigan; then later on, the best in the nation. Donna served her next ball.

Cheryl looked like she was going to slice it again, but this time, she hit it so that it would drop right at Donna’s feet. Instead of backing up to return the ball, Donna jumped out of the way. At Love - 30, Donna served for the third time.

It looked like the ball was going to land at the centern line. Cheryl ran up and returned the ball to Donna. Donna returned the ball, and the volley lasted for ten minutes. Cheryl hit the ball out. The score was now 15 - 30. There was still hope for Donna, so she served again.

Cheryl returned the ball with a chip shot. Donna returned the ball and this volley was still going on, when Carol Jameson drove up. Mrs. Madison saw her get out of her car.

“Hello, Carol. What can we do for you?”

“Mrs. Madison, there was a man a the MSU Tennis Center asking about the regional championship trophy. I thought I had better look for you and let you know.”

“Thank you, Carol.”

Mrs. Madison, called the whole group together.

“Ladies, something odd happened just now. Carol Jameson from the tennis center was just here. She said that a man was at the tennis center asking about the trophy. I think I know who was going through our rooms while we were gone. We are going to have to see the dean tomorrow.

“If I am right, which I think I am, then Ms. Jameson is in for a real surprise. I think that Ms. Jameson is an alumus of our arch enemy, Gaynor. I and Leslie will find out. All right, with what I jut said, let me see some real tennis playing.”

Carol Jameson showed her hand unnecessarily. Most criminals do, Mrs. Madison thought to herself. She was going to find out tomorrow from the dean of law. If she was right about Carol Jameson, she was going make sure that Carol practiced her law from a prison cell.

The game between Donna Sanchez and Cheryl Masters resumed. The score was 15 - 30 and it was Donna’s serve. Donna served the ball quickly. Cheryl returned the ball with attempt at a drop ball. Donna returned the ball, and this time, Cheryl was ready for it. She ran up the net and tapped the ball over the net. The score was now 15 - 40. Donna served her next ball for an ace. Thus made the score 30 - 40.

One more score Donna, and the score would be deuce. But, when Donna served her next ball, Cheryl returned it. The volley lasted eleven minutes. Donna in an arrempt to slam the ball, hit it too hard and it bounced beyond Cheryl’s baseline.

“Game, Cheryl. That was good effort, Donna, but you need to get that game up a bit.”

“I am saving my emotions for the tournament, Mrs. Madison. If Carol Jameson did go to Gaynor as you say, then I want every ounce of anger I can get at the tournament. I will not let my opponent see that anger, but it will come out on the score board.”

“Good girl,” Mrs. Madison said with a smile.

”Alright, it is just about lunch time. Let’s get your gear stowed in the trunks of both cars. Where would you ladies like to eat?”

“I was thinking about eating at the Holiday Inn we saw on the way here. It is right down the street.”

“Cheryl, that is a wonderful idea. How many want to eat at the Holiday Inn?” Mrs. Madison asked the group. Everyone said “me”. “Then, Holiday Inn it is.”

The girls put their gear in the trunks of both cars. They got in to the cars, and Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes drove to the Holiday Inn. They didn’t have far to go. Mrs. Madison and Leslie Rhymes were in luck. There were two parking spaces next to each other. They parked their cars, and the whole group went in.

Mrs Madison told the hostess that there were ten for lunch.

“Just a moment, please. I need to speak with my manager. We don’t have any space for ten people to sit together as a group. I will be back shortly.”

A few minutes later, th waitress and a man came to the group.

“Hello, I’m Donald Spencer, the manager here. Sheila told me that you wish to have accomodations for ten. We don’t have that kind of space right now. All of our booths are occupied. We do have an empty conference room you van use. Would that be acceptable?”

“I’m Mrs. Madison. That would be fine. Then we can talk while we eat. We’re competing tomorrow in the state tennis semi finals and finals. These girls have enough homework to last them the rest of the century.” There were giggles from the girls.

Sheila, their waitress, showed the group to the snall conference room. This room was used for staff briefings. Since the daily staff briefing was already done, the comference room was available. Mrs. Madison cautioned the girls not to mention any specific plays that were practicing on, while they were in the conference room. She told the girls they could talk about the tournament, but not what they were going to do there. Mrs. Madison was worried that if there was one Gaynor alumnus here, there may be others.

As Sheila seated the group in the small coference room, the talk was about clothes, makeup, places each girl would like to see. This light banter would throw any spies from Gaynor off the track. Mrs. Madison would brief the girls at the court. But, Mrs. Madison thought to herself that they needed to find another court to practice on. Maybe on courts in another town.

Leslie Rhymes was thinking the same thing. She felt that the practice sessions today, would help the girls win the state championship. This would assure them a berth at the national tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

They all had a light lunch. When they were finished eating, Mrs. Madison paid the bill, and they all left. When they got out by the cars, Mrs. Madison addressed the group.

“Ladies.” Mrs. Madison said in a low tone. “We need to find tennis courts in another town. If Carol Jameson is a Gaynor spy, parent, or alumnus, then there may be more around here. I don’t want them to see us practice. If we are ready then, let’s go tennis court shopping.”

Everybody got in to each of the cars. Mrs. Madison took the lead, and Leslie Rhymes followed. They went in the direction of the courts they practiced on before lunch. Except, they turned off on to a side street and headed for the highway.

They drove three towns away. The looked around until they found a park that had two tennis courts. They parked in the parking spaces near the tennis courts. The girls got their gear and set up. Leslie would take two girls on one court, Mrs. Madison would take two girls on the other.

“Alright, ladies, I will let you determine who serves first. I want you to practice the plays we and have been, and the ones Leigh showed us this morning.”

Leigh sat out the first round. Darlene and Donna took the first court. Mary Whithers and Colleen Sanders took the other court. Donna served to Darlene. Colleen served to Mary.

Donna threw the up, and when it came down to the hit point, she slammed it, hoping for an ace. But Darlene returned it, quickly. This volley was still going on when Mary served to Colleen.

Colleen returned the ball as fast as she could. Mary returned it to Colleen. Mary and Colleen were in a heated battle for the first fifteen points.

In the meantime, Donna and Darlene were still hitting the ball back and forth. Darlene hit the ball with a slice. Donna returned it back to Darlene. This time, Darlene tapped the ball trying for a drop ball. She succeeded. That made the score Love - 15.

Colleen sent the ball back to Mary. Mary tried a chip shot, but Colleen was ready for it. She hit the ball back to Mary. The effort these girls were now putting in to their practice, was like they were a different squad. Colleen saw the ball was not going to come to her, so she ran to slice it over the net. Mary was not fast enough to return it. The score for Colleen and Mary was 15 - Love.

Unknown to the Hampton Lady Tigers, Bill Laughton was watching the girls play. He had been park manager here for almost fifteen years. His alma mater was Hampton Senior High School. Bill recognized Mrs. Madison. He went over to say hi.

“Hello, Mrs. Madison. Do you remember me?”

“Billy Laughton!” Mrs. Madison exclaimed. “You were in the graduating class when I was just starting at Hampton. Ladies, this is Billy Laughton. He was a student at our school. It is good to see you. Do you live here?”

“Yes, I’m the park manager.”

“We’re competing in the state tennis semi finals and finals. We were just practicing for tomorrow.”

“I wish you a lot of luck. Be careful, though, there are Gaynor alumni living here. One of them. Carol Jameson, is a student at MSU.”

“We have met Carol. We are going to talk to the dean of law, and see if we can’t get her out of being a line judge. When we play, she just may make sure that she calls the ball out. Of course, there is the camera playback. We will see what happens after we talk to the dean.”

“Talk to the athletic director. He can make sure that Carol’s calls are correct. Explain why Gaynor is so set against you. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Gaynor Lady Cougars show up at the tournament. Be careful, ladies. I will try to get to the tournament to watch you play.”

“Are you going to watch us practice, Mr. Laughton?” Mary Whithers asked.

“Yes, it’s quiet, so I have a little time.”

The games between Darlene and Donna, Colleen and Mary resumed. Mrs. Madison called the scores.

“The scores are Love - 15 for Darlene and Donna, and 15 - Love for Colleen and Mary. Ladies, you may resume play.”

Donna and Colleen served at the same time. They volleyed back and forth. Colleen sliced the ball and it dropped over the net. Bill Laughton said to expect the unexpected. He said to anticipate where your opponent would hit the ball. The score for Colleen and Mary was now 30 - Love.

Even though Bill was out of high school for seventeen years, he was still a loyal Lady Tiger supporter. Bill’s game was basketnall. He was a forward for the Hampton Tigers.

The score for Darlene and Donna was Love - 15. Darlene Haskins and Donna Sanchez were volleying back and forth when Darlene saw the ball coming, but not too fast. She ran to the net and tapped the ball ever so lightly. It hit Donna’s side of the net, and bounced twice. That made the score Love - 30.

Colleen served to Mary. Mary returned the ball. Colleen sent the ball back to Mary, who tried a chip shot. It failed, because it hit Mary’s side of the net. The score was now 40 - Love. Colleen served again and this time it was an ace.

“Game, Colleen,” Mrs. Madison called.

Donna served to Darlene. Darlene returned with a swiftness that caught Donna off guard. The score was now Love - 40. Donna served again, but it was called as a fault. Donna served again, the volley lasted for eight minutes. Darlene won the game.

“Game, Darlene. Donna, you did well, but, you need to be more aggressive. Remember, tomorrow starts the state semi-finals. We need to get to the finals. Well, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. The next four girls pair up. You will decide who serves first.”

Leigh Anne Smythe and Patty Langston paired up. Cheryl Masters and Dorothy Winston was the last pair. Dorothy was elected to serve to Cheryl, and Leigh wanted Patty to serve.

Patty served her first ball. Leigh returned it with a slice. The ball dropped over the net. The score was Love - 15. Patty served again, but this time, when Leigh returned the ball, it began a long volley between the two girls.

Dorothy’s first serve resulted in a short volley, giving Dot her first points. The score was 15 - Love.
Dorothy served again, and this was returned.

Patty served to Leigh. Leigh returned the ball, but Patty couldn’t catch it. The score was Love - 30.

Dorothy served to Cheryl. Cheryl returned the ball, for another point. The score was now 15 - 15. On Dot’s next serve, Cheryl returned it for another point. The score was now 15 - 30.

Patty served to Leigh, who returned the ball. This set up a long volley between the two girls. Dot served her next ball, but Cheryl returned it for another point. Cheryl was ahead of Dot 15 - 40. Dorothy served her next ball, and it was an ace. The score was now 30 - 40.

Leigh and Patty were on their last play of the game. The score was 15 - 40. This volley was very short lived, when Patty, in an attempt to slam the ball, slammed in to her side of the net.

“Game, Leigh,” Mrs. Madison called.

Dorothy, hoping for an ace, had her first serve called as a fault. Dot served again. Cheryl returned the ball. Dot, in another attempt to slam the ball, slammed it in to her side of the net.

“Game, Cheryl,” Mrs. Madison said. “Ladies, this ends our practice. Tomorrow starts the real deal. Well, it is almost dinner time. Where do we want to eat?”

“How about Chinese,” Cheryl Masters suggested.

“How many would like Chinese?” Mrs. Madison asked. “You are invited to come with us, Billy.”

“I would like that, Mrs. Madison. Let me make sure everything is put away and locked up.”

After Bill returned, he got his car, and the group headed for the nearest Chinese restaurant. They found one that looked promising. They all parked in the parking lot, which wasn’t all that big.

Next chapter: The state semi-finals and finals begin.

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