Tennis program running Relay for Life for one of their own
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 10, 2006 - An amazing project for one of their own on the Sulphur Springs tennis team is currently going on for junior Kendall Smith - a player who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in January.

Her tennis mates are honoring Smith with a team for Relay for Life and to raise money they are selling team shirts. The shirt have the players' names in tennis balls, and in the center of the shirt is a gold ball with Kendall's name in it to honor her and the closeness of the tennis program. The entire varsity team is taking part in Relay for Life with Kendall as the honorary captain.

"Around the first of the year, our team is very close and we knew we wanted to do something for her. As soon as I mentioned Relay for Life, the players immediately said 'Let's do it.' " said SSHS coach Susan Reynolds. "The seniors chose the shirts and put their names on the back, and we also have the gold ball shirt for her." 

With their only home tournament against Mansfield Timberview tomorrow at the SSHS tennis courts, Reynolds said she hopes Smith can attend the tournament after playing against Timberview at the regional team tennis tournament last fall.

"We are hoping she can attend, and she definitely wants to attend, but her blood count is a little low right now and she has one chemo treatment left," the coach said.

Reynolds said she will be speaking at the Relay for Life meeting next Thursday at First Baptist Church and will be showing off the shirt in hopes of getting more sales for the shirts.

"I will be there to tell Kendall's story and what she has been going through - and she has been a trooper through all of it - and what we are doing for her," the coach said.

The team has raised $500 from shirt sales as of Friday, selling 100 shirts through word of mouth and sales at the high school. They hope to reach $2,000 by the end of the Relay for Life run April 28-29. 

When the team heard about Kendall's diagnosis, Reynolds said the players dealt with the adversity and became even a closer-knit group.

"When you say adversity throughout a season, you never realize how much adversity you are going to have," she said. "When we found out that Kendall had Hodgkins, it was like what else is going to happen to us.

"She took the news better than anybody else. They let it sink in, and we decorated her house, and when she smiles she never shows anything negative and it helps keep our team together."

Orders for the T-shirts can be placed through Coach Reynolds either at the high school or at the Relay for Life event as they will have a booth set up. The cost is $12 for the short sleeve shirts and $14 for the long sleeve shirts.

For more information, contact Reynolds at 903-243-2026 (cell) and 903-885-8524 (home). The sponsor for the shirts is Blanton Texstyle.

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