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Southern

From Baton Rouge’s “Death Volley,” Women’s 2.5 Team Wins Nationals

Co-captain Heather Day

Death Volley is still jumping for joy over their win at USTA National Champions for 18 & Over 2.5 women. This Baton Rouge, LA, team gleaned its name from the well-known Death Valley, the nickname of the LSU football stadium. Captained by Cathy Rosenfeld and me, the team was having a winning season in the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 hit and things came to a standstill. USTA League play was ended prematurely with no promise of state, sectionals, or nationals in sight. A few players decided to take a break from playing but the remaining team members moved forward. A few more players were added and with tennis being named one of the safest things to do during the pandemic, practices and play continued. After another full year of dedication and commitment, their dream has finally come true.

 

This championship team is composed of women ages 26 to 57 who all have different backgrounds. Some are single, some married, and some have children. Their love of tennis unites the nine of them. 

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Left to right: Keenan Johnson and team members Tara Comardelle, Lori Wismans, Forrest Richards, Heather Day, Cathy Rosenfeld, Anne Huff, Cindy Ourso, Rebecca Herbst, Jenna Jaureguy and coach Lynda Johnson.

There are five ladies on the team who have all somehow been involved in the education field. Including this writer, who is an assistant principal, there are Cathy Rosenfeld, a kindergarten teacher; Lori Wismans, a special education teacher; Jenna Jauraguy, a librarian; and Cindy Ourso, a director of elementary schools. Forrest Richards works with equine therapy and Anne Marie Huff is a chemical engineer. Rebecca Herbt owns an employment agency but makes time to play the sport she loves. And, finally, Tara Comardelle, the nurse anesthetist who spent her spare time at the state and sectional level competitions giving players on other teams IV fluids when they became dehydrated and cramped up.

The coach, Lynda Johnson, is a legend in her own right. This is her third 2.5 team to go to a national tournament and her second team to win. At 76 years young, she has played tennis since high school and began coaching when her own high school children did not have a coach. Officially a coach now for over 26 years, she thrives on helping new players grow and develop. Mentoring 2.5 players is her specialty and she works to teach technique as well as strategy to eager groups of newbies.

 

Assisting the coach with this team is her granddaughter, Kennan Johnson, a former collegiate tennis player at LSU and now a coach. I taught Kennan in elementary school and now the teacher has become the student. Several players took private lessons along the way with Kennan. Rosenfeld raved about not only the skills she learned, but also the confidence Kennan instilled in the players.

 

So, what’s next for this team after winning nationals in Scottsdale, AZ? More tennis, of course. They are gearing up for another great season and look forward to improving and making more friends while competing and having fun with the game they all love.

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