Posted in: Tennis

High School Senior Bullied Off Tennis Court? Not Really

Tennis Bullying

COMMENTARY | High school senior Briana Leonard lost a set-of-three New Hampshire girls tennis singles final, not because of her talent, but rather because she says the crowd bullied her.

The Nashua (N.H.) Bishop Guertin senior was facing off against Bow (N.H.) High senior Sunday Swett when the constant heckling from the crowd led her to exit the court.

In professional sports we hear heckling all the time. In this particular case, though, officials from the New Hampshire Interscholastic Activities Association seem to this it got out of case.

The girls were preparing to shift their game to a different court after Swett won the first set 6-4. Instead of moving courts, Leonard headed to her car and left the event.

The girl’s father says she was being attacked by the crowd because she lives in Massachusetts but attends school in New Hampshire.

Karen Leonard tells The Telegraph:

“They were bullying her. This has been going on for two years. They’ve wanted her out for two years because she’s not a New Hampshire girl. Because we live in Massachusetts.”

Leonard’s own coach admits that Briana Leonard should learn to deal with hostile crowds, which have always been a part of sports.

Bishop Guertin coach Barry Ndynia says of the crowd:

“Bri was heavily not the crowd favorite today. But in sports that’s something you have to deal with. Some people will not cheer for you. They’ll cheer for your opponent. That’s why I was trying to keep her focused.”

After the match, opponent Sunday Swett said she was just happy to have the win. Swett tells The Monitor

“I thought it was a bathroom break and when everyone started cheering I thought it was more like, ‘First Set! Keep it going!’ And I was kind of like, thank you, but I’ve got to stay focused here. But she just picked up her stuff and left. I’ve played her before [including a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Leonard in the 2012 quarterfinals], and, not to be mean, but I know she has an attitude, and I was ready to put up with it. But this brought it to a whole new level.”

For her part, Sunday Swett has been named her local news stations “hometown hero” in the past:

So was bullying to blame? Any sports fan who has watched a hometown crowd back their hometown player will say absolutely not. The fans didn’t throw anything at Leonard. They didn’t threaten her. They just booed and heckled.

When I played baseball, I literally heard parents heckle 5-year-old t-ball players. Unlike Briana Leonard, those kids ignored the heckles and continued to play.

Professional sports and even high school level sports come with their fair share of distractions; some people just aren’t cut out to deal with those distractions.

Do you think this was a case of bullying or just a simple crowd heckling situation?

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11 Responses to “High School Senior Bullied Off Tennis Court? Not Really”

  1. Robin Schultz

    "they just booed and heckled" I had to laugh out loud at this comment. That's what bullying is! All we can do in life is be responsible for our own behavior. If you think heckling an athlete is the BEST you can be, the BEST use of your time and energy, you've got problems. The girl who left the court should have stood up against these idiots instead of leaving. And the real adults in the stands should have done the same. Everyone could have learned a lesson in sportsmanship.

  2. Chris Falvey

    not responsible reporting….she didn't blame her loss of 1st set to crowd in any way shape or form….she blamed them for her choosing not to continue.

  3. Jay Bull

    Suck it up…Bullying just makes you more able to face the real world, once you graduate.

  4. Rev. John Hohe

    AS both a baseball and volleyball official the coach is to control his fans. If there was direct booing or the like the official should have told the coach to control his fans or there will be reprecussions. Unless there is a recording of what went on it will be hard for a mere reader to make the determination if there was bullying etc,

  5. Paula Castaldo

    In PROFESSIONAL tennis the head lines judge does not let fans boo and heckle the players…they are constantly asking the crowd for quiet, etc. Tennis is a sport that requires concentration…it's not like football. It would be like heckling during a golf tournament…it's just not done. This really speaks to the class of this crowd of people. None.

  6. Nancy Crowley

    She was not bullied, and if you can't take not being the home team favorite, then get out of competition.

  7. Anonymous

    I was at site of match as my son was also playing in the tournament. I didn't know either girl and I was just watching the match while waiting for the boys to continue play. The Bow spectators were enthusiastic, but not impolite. There was no booing or heckling. The kid from Bow had more fan support, but that is likely because she was from a neighboring town vs. the BG kid lived 40 miles away. This is a controversy only because the BG' player's parents were saying that the crowd was "hostile" and "heckling". It is terrible how these some take complaints from tennis parents and twist them so they are assumed to be true. They were not.

  8. Anonymous

    Todd, you are incorrect. You have swallowed a comment from an overreactionary tennis parent(s) and believed it to be true. I was there, there was no booing or heckling just enthusiasm for one child's playing.

  9. Louis Applebaum

    Sunday Swett? You can't pick your parents.Father very good High School Athlete @ Laconia HS.Mother political activist.Lots of competitive blood.Briana Leonard? Big name in Nashua Leonard.Not sure of lineage.Either way.type A personalities are here for the 21st Century.Sportsmanship out the door.Sad state of affairs really for both parties.May they have a great life, as I don't suspect either will be in the finals of the French Open anytime soon.

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