Life has been tough for Southlake Carroll tennis player Kelley Anderson the past two years.
Twice she qualified for the UIL Class 5A state tennis tournament, only to have unforeseen circumstances derail title hopes.
Add two years of personal strife, which included the death of her brother, Aaron Anderson, in a car accident, and its easy to see how Kelleys third trip to Austin would be an emotional struggle. Many friends at Carroll never see Andersons struggles.
They dont all know the story of everything, so they dont quite understand and since this is a different sport its harder to understand, Anderson said.
However, a brave fight in this, her junior year, has Anderson in a much better place as a player and a person, earning her another shot at a state title in a tournament where everything seems to go wrong.
Up a set in the 2011 singles final, a shoulder injury resulted in a silver medal.
After the first set, my arm pretty much gave out and it was hard to serve, Anderson said. It all went downhill from there because I couldnt feel my arm pretty much.
The following season, just months after her brothers death, Anderson qualified for state in mixed doubles. In the semifinals, a ball flicked away by her partner after a point struck a player on an adjacent court. The duo was automatically disqualifed.
Its a freak deal, Carroll coach Corey Aldridge said. You cant hit a ball after a point is over and if it hits anyone its an automatic DQ. Its a cruddy rule, but its in the rule books.
It was a freak accident, Anderson echoed.
For 2013, Anderson and the boys and girls doubles teams from Carroll have qualified for Austin. Carroll carries a tradition of winning with its name.
It is no secret that the Dragons carry the burden of the expectation of success on their shoulders. Anderson said shes aware of the pressure.
Its going to be a lot more fun because everyone is going to do well and well be able to support each other through the tournament and have a lot of people cheering for us, Anderson said. Itll be a big motivation to have them there watching and to cheer them on, too.
The high expectation comes with an overwhelming hope from those close to Anderson that she will go through a state tournament without another obstacle beyond her control allowing her talent to decide the outcome.
And a gold medal would fit in nicely with the silver and bronze she has already earned.
Kelleys been through a lot. To see something like this happen would be unbelievable for her, Aldridge said. Im extremely proud of her. Im extremely proud of all my kids, but especially Kelley.
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