THE NEXT SERVE: Still mourning, USW athletics competes for first time since deadly car wreck

USW Tennis competed against Sul Ross State and Mary Hardin-Baylor in Alpine.
A lone tennis ball sits on the court during match between the University of the Southwest and Sul Ross State.
Published: Mar. 26, 2022 at 8:03 AM CDT
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ALPINE, Texas (KOSA) - There was no national attention, no famous faces, or self-important personalities. For all intents and purposes, it looked like a normal college tennis match.

But for the University of the Southwest, it meant much more.

For the first time since a car crash killed six USW golfers and their head coach on March 15, USW athletics returned to competition.

Perhaps it’s fitting that it was the sport closest to the golfers, the tennis team, that takes the next step forward for USW.

“Tyler James, the golf coach, and me were very, very close,” said USW Tennis Coach Josh Baker. “So, today I wear the shirt for him him, our golf team, and our community during these times.”

In between singles and doubles matches, a ceremony was held on the Sul Ross State tennis courts honoring those lost in the crash. A bouquet was given to the two tennis players who lost suitemates in the crash.

“I couldn’t really speak,” freshman tennis player Mark Trenkle said. “I don’t know how to express my emotions. It’s still hard, but it’s getting better now, but it was pretty tough the first few days.”

The tennis team was scheduled to use the same 17-passenger van the next day. At first, they were notified they’d need to find another way to get their match in Arizona. Not long after, the team found out the horrifying news.

“We didn’t lose just a player,” James said. “We lost a family member. We lost family.”

It’s one of life’s cruelties that even after our world stops, the world itself goes on. Trenkle and James know it takes everyone, teammates and opponents, to take that first, and hardest, step forward.

“We all have to hold together,” Trenkle said. “Take nothing for granted. Live for today.”

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