High School Tennis Player’s Career Ends When Bullied Off The Court
Bishop Guertin high school senior Briana Leonard had a memorable finish — or “unfinish” — to her last singles match of her high school career. Leonard was down a set in the best-of-three-set final, when the senior player walked off of the court before the second set even started. The reason of her actions? Bullying from the fans.
Briana’s parents, Tim and Kristen Leonard, described their daughter’s situation on the court as a “hostile environment” and encouraged their daughter’s decision in retiring from the match.
“This has been going on for the last few years,” Mrs. Leonard told the Nashua Telegraph. “This is an 18-year-old girl who fell and got hurt and people are cheering. They were bullying her. They’ve wanted her out for two years because she’s not a New Hampshire girl. Because we live in Massachusetts.”
NHIAA Executive Director R. Patrick Corbin was in attendance for the event. He said he thought about moving the match to a different court because of the disturbance, but by the time the thought ran through his mind, Leonard had called it quits.
Corbin was also taken aback when asked if there was bullying involved with students who are from Massachusetts and attend Bishop Guertin, a high school in New Hampshire.
“I’ve never heard that before,” Corbin explained. “Most of the kids that go to BG are probably from Massachusetts. It makes no difference.”
Sunday Swett, a second seed, was Leonard’s opponent and went on to receive the girl’s singles title that afternoon. She said she did not think much of the crowd’s jeers during the match.
“We really didn’t talk during the match,” Swett told reporters. “At one point we were switching sides. I was up 4-3, and as we were passing each other she said, ‘shut your crowd up.’ At that point I was thinking I have to do it for the fans.”
The two high school girls have had history prior to this dramatic match. Swett and Leonard have played each other four times, Leonard winning all four games.
“We had an unfortunate experience,” Corbin said. “I’ve never seen something like this at a tennis match.”