I write this letter to commend the members of the Women’s Skyhawk tennis team for their outstanding performance at the OVC tournament this past weekend. They stood like Leonides and three hundred Spartans, against all the vast enimies of Persia, eventually defeated, but not before making the field run red with the blood of their enemies. They defeated school teams with twice the number of scholarships, twice the amount of funding, but only half as much heart, and in one case, a school with no heart at all. Most of the teams saw the courts as fields of honor in the tradition of the game of tennis, but one’s fans saw it fit to attack players personally with harsh taunts of “cheater,” “bitch,” and conduct you would expect from soccer hooligans half a world away.
The Skyhawks fought epic battles, lasting four and even five plus hours, defeating all but one. The match against Murray State lasted five and one half hours, a super human performance by members of both teams, but especially for one Skyhawk. The Murray State players gave this player the name “Ice” because of her coolness under fire and her unflappability. This they did out of respect, not malice, honoring a worthy opponent, holding her in awe. She remained cool during her championship match, letting the abusive language from the Samford gallery slide from her back and form puddles of muck at her feet, muck she slung back in their faces where it so deservedly belonged. Supporting your team with shouts of encouragement is one thing, berating and slandering your player’s opponent is another, and collegiate tennis was dirtied by the actions of these individuals. If the gallery was as gracious as the players on the court, collegiate tennis could still be a sport in which the outcome is decided by those players on the court.
The ladies of the Skyhawk tennis team are just that, ladies, and they deserve to be treated as such. They stand circled, back to back, racquets drawn, ready to meet and vanquish their opponents in the coming year. I, for one, toast these ladies as heroes and look forward to next year with the expectation of the OVC conference championship.
—Gary L. Richardson
“An Avid , not Rabid Tennis Fan”