In 1977, my pastor and I represented our small town of Lovett in the North Vernon City Tennis Tourney. It is where I won my one and only tennis trophy.

When Ralph approached me and asked if I would be willing to play after a table tennis match against one another, I explained how I had seldom played tennis and didn't even know all the rules. He assured me that we would still be alright while confident I could be an imposing figure at the net. Ralph had a wicked sidespin serve and an amazing backhand and forehand, each with great topspin. Later, I found out he had played in college and had competed against tennis pros on the circuit at that time. I mostly did not pick up a tennis racquet again until our daughters played tennis for Hauser. After retiring from teaching, I have now had the honor to give basic lessons to Hauser players, including four on the highly successful team this season.

Needless to state, I am extremely proud of the Hauser team and program that finished 14-3, only losing to larger schools. They won the Heritage Days Hauser Classic Tourney for the second consecutive year after a long drought of not winning it as well as the Mid-Hooser Conference Tourney. In addition, they won the Mid-Hoosier Conference League with a perfect 4-0 record and had six of their players named to the Mid-Hoosier All-Conference Team while Mr. John Pratt, our coach for eight years now, was named Coach Of The Year. And, they were recognized as a 2017 Boys' All-State Academic Team by the Indian High School Tennis Coaches Association for having a GPA above 3.6. In other words, they had a very impressive season! As I watched them steadily improve under the capable guidance of Mr. Pratt, who knows a lot about the game after playing at Greensburg and Thomas More College, I admittedly was quite impressed considering where they started. To Mr. Pratt's credit too, he always has plenty of players where we can actually have a full reserve team when other schools do not.

In thinking about our program, I reflected on why our community and school have had courts for a long time while others are still without facilities. Thus, I had a conversation with Bob Miller who ended his career at Hauser as athletic director before handing the position over to Dave Irvine. Like Dave, Bob could talk forever about sports at Hauser. The first Hauser tennis player was Gregg Gruhl in the early seventies. We did not even have courts then! Gregg has been very involved with tennis in Florida. Soon, Bob and others approached the school board about building courts. They were challenged to find support and funding through the community. The Hope Optimist Club and The Hauser Student Council got very involved. After an impressive eight month community drive which raised around $26,000, we had four courts in October of 1976.

I found 23 entries related to the project in The Star-Journal. Due to much community effort, many students and adults have had the opportunity to play a wonderful sport for over 40 years now. It did not hit me until our daughters started playing that it would be better to have at least 5 courts so the entire varsity team could start at the same time. Our lights were used when some varsity matches extended for hours and with the reserve matches. Several people went to the school board and suggested we should have at least 5 new courts, in particular since the old courts had multiple cracks. In 2013, FRHC fully funded 6 new courts at a cost close to $130,000. However, outside elements can deteriorate courts, and they will need repair work soon.

When looking at the history of Hauser tennis teams, we would be hard pressed to find one as successful as this year's team. I called and talked to Tom Canright who was our first coach in 1977. Coach Canright guided the Jets for seven years and to two Sectional Championships in 1981 and 1982. For three seasons, the sectional was at Columbus. Then, it was moved to Seymour where we played for one year. After one year, Tom got rather bold and asked if we could go to Shelbyville since it would be a much closer trip. To his surprise, they agreed! It was in the Shelbyville Sectional that we won one year by beating Shelbyville and another year by beating Connersville. At that time, there were not enough schools in the conference with tennis courts and consequently programs to have a league.

Eventually, the sectional was moved back to Columbus. There is only one class in tennis. It is my opinion that there should be at least two. You can advance only if playing at the #1 Singles and # 1 Doubles positions and winning a match in the sectional. I don't know of a Hauser team that has won that sectional; we have had a few players to move on. One of Hauser's most successful recent players to advance was an exchange student from Brazil, Thiaggy Franco. He played in the state quarterfinals at #1 Singles and was named The Republic 2005 Boys' Tennis Player Of The Year.

Where is our program going in the future? Well, I know we are in good hands with coaches like Mr. John Pratt and Mrs. Molly Cleland Crabtree!

(Our girls finished in a tie for first place in the Mid-Hoosier Conference last season! Molly's uncle, Tim Cleland, played tennis at Hauser and advanced in 1980 at #1 Singles and was named All-State. Tim was recently featured on HSJ Online for having an amazing record as a tennis coach at Muncie's Delta High School. He is quickly approaching 1,000 wins for boys and girls and is in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall Of Fame.)