Queen of the court

Friday, October 29, 2004

Special to the Southeast Missourian

Oct. 22 was a day Central senior Brett Ford will never forget.

It began in Springfield, Mo., when Ford and Dani Gross opened play in the state tennis tournament, and it ended shortly before midnight Saturday with Ford being named the homecoming queen.

"It was certainly a day to remember," Ford said. "It began with the wet tennis courts and watching them use leaf blowers to try to dry them off. And then it ended with the unexpected news of being the homecoming queen."

A lot transpired in between -- three tennis matches at the state tournament and a drive from Springfield back to Cape for the homecoming dance.

Ford and Gross, who were the first Central girls players to qualify for the state tournament in the decade, played their first match at about 11:30 a.m. after a 90-minute delay because of the overnight rains.

They opened with a loss to St. Joseph Central's Jordan Lipira and Megan Liechti, but they bounced back to beat against Michelle Tobben and Garwen Chen of Parkway North in straight sets.

That prolonged their stay in Springfield for a late afternoon consolation match.

"I know I am missing out on a lot of things at home, but my best friend, Kate Miller, is filling in for me at different events," Ford said between matches at state.

Miller, playing the role of Brett Ford, got to represent her in a school assembly, ride in the homecoming parade and attend the homecoming football game, where the court was introduced at halftime.

"Kate looks like me anyway, and I bet she's having a good time with it," Ford said while preparing for her third tennis match at state. "I am really glad that I am here getting a chance to play in the state tournament. It's a great experience.

"I had no clue on what to expect, since I had never been here before. The competition has been stiff, but we were prepared for this by playing in the Great Eight Tournament earlier in the year. It was really a fun experience, and I am glad we won a match and finished in the top 12 in the state."

Ford and Gross concluded their stay in Springfield playing on the stadium court at Cooper Tennis Complex, which is the home of the Springfield Lasers in the World Team Tennis League.

They lost for the third time this year to a doubles team from Oakville, Stacey Goebel and Sarah Dalton, ending their season.

That match ended shortly after 5 p.m. Soon after, the Fords were on the road for the nearly five-hour trip to Cape Girardeau. After getting in a one-hour nap while the Fords were stuck in some traffic, Brett used the final minutes of the long drive to apply her makeup.

Despite a low fuel warning with about 30 miles to go, the Fords made it back home without stopping at about 10:15 p.m., and Ford's fill-in for the day, Miller, was waiting to help get Ford to the dance on time.

"I guess I was running on adrenaline because I really wasn't that tired at the time," Ford said. "There wasn't time to do my hair or much else, so I just changed clothes and rushed over to the dance."

In the process Ford forgot her student ID, for which she had to serve detention. But she finally made it to the dance shortly before the 11 p.m. announcement of the king and queen.

Brandon Twiggs, who had quite a nice day himself with three touchdowns on the football victory against Poplar Bluff, was named homecoming king while Ford was named queen.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," Ford said. "I was so happy to be in Springfield and playing in the state tournament. But I am glad I was able to make it back in time for this. It was a long day but a very good day."

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