USTA team of 1990s glory reunites

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LAKE ST. JOHN —It’s been 23 years since the 1984 Natchez tennis team started their lifelong journey and it has been three years since they played their last match.

Tuesday the team reunited to share old stories and enjoy each others’ company.

“We all saw each other on Memorial Day and decided it was time for a reunion,” team captain Sherry Jones said.

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The entire 12 member team gathered at teammate Margaret Fudickar’s house on Lake St. John in Ferriday. The ladies had a table full of homemade food and coolers full of refreshments.

“It’s nice we were all able to get together before any of us of became deceased,” Anna James said.

Instantly after James comment the team erupted in united laughter.

At this reunion there were certainly no hard feelings.

Stories ranged from when the girls were on the top of the world — winning their U.S. Tennis Association division and going to states in Jackson in 1994 — to how the sisters, Kate Ferguson and Weasie Mallory, got hit by car going to church.

The scene was like someone had thrown the entire team into a time capsule that only stopped at all the team’s memorable and outrageous moments.

“I remember one time we had to go to trials and we partied too much the night before,” Jones said and before she could finish the ladies were giggling and chiming in with their own versions of how the trials panned out.

The stories reflected the children that remain inside all of the team members, but there were some stories that showed their age as well.

As Jones was reminiscing about the teams titles and glory days, Sheila Alwood burst in with a comment of her own.

“We won our division,” Jones said when she was playfully interrupted by Alwood who said, “And then we met the flat bellies.”

According to the girls who shouted different explanations over each other, the “flat bellies” were the younger girls the team had trouble with when they were nearing the end of their reign.

Then conversation turned in to talking about what made the team such a force to be reckoned with in their hay day.

“We didn’t have uniforms,” Becky Gremillion said. “The less your clothes matched the better you played,” and Gremillion almost finished her story before captain Jones interjected.

“I did make some guidelines, you couldn’t wear white sneakers and black socks.”

The fire was lit and out came the nicknames.

“Coach Jones,” Fudickar shouted and the group was back to hysterics. Nothing was in bad taste, some of the team was laughing so hard they said it hurt.

Back to reminiscing and again the stories flew like yellow balls over a net.

“We used to organize the tennis trips so we could get away from our kids,” Marcia McCullough said. Then the room was engulfed in so many stories that a group of stenographer couldn’t keep up.

As the night wound up the conversation wound down. The team talked about present day.

“Some of us still play,” said Joan Lossin. The others counted the hands of individuals who still play.

“Six out of 12 of us ain’t that bad,” Jones said.

Team members Sis Rexinger-Cutner, Stephanie Punches and Marty Seibert contributed but mainly seemed to enjoy watching as their lives flew around the room in their friends’ elaborate stories.

“We were the envy of all the other teams because we had the most fun, but we rarely won trophies,” Alwood said.