A salute to seniors before a tough tennis match

Rachel Harden shows off some of her gifts from Senior Day. Photo by Mary Harden

The FAMU tennis team competed against South Carolina State on a warm Saturday afternoon which also featured a tribute to the seniors on the team.

Life-sized banners hung along the fence, displaying the team’s graduating seniors.

I am very proud of the way I competed because I had to fight and make a comeback,” said Rachel Harden, a graduating senior. I think South Carolina State is one of the toughest teams well come across, so well have to be ready the next time we see them. Being celebrated as a senior I felt a lot of gratitude. It felt like everything came full circle because I was recognized with my teammates I was recruited with.”

Harden was honored last week as the MEAC player of the week. Leading the Rattlers through her performance over North Carolina A&T, she won all of her games the entire weekend. Harden has played tennis since starting at the age of 5. Born in Augusta, Ga., she was trained by her father who has helped drive her even up until now. After graduation Harden aspires to attain her doctorate and become a history professor, specifically in the field of African American studies.

Each player received a custom duffle bag, a framed picture and flowers. One of the parents of the tennis team created life-sized banners for each of the graduating seniors. In receiving the gifts, each player walked out on the court with their support system being family, friends or any other loved ones.

Its already good to see your seniors recognized,” said Rochelle Houston, head coach of the team.

Its a bittersweet moment but Ill be glad to see them get their degrees. Overall I thought we had our opportunities. They fought in every match but there are some things we need to improve on. I think were mentally and physically getting closer to being ready for the MEAC tournament. Our future practices will help them be prepared.”

The Rattlers lost the match 4-3. This has placed the team as the No. 2 seed going into the MEAC tournament the weekend of April 23. The Rattlers will potentially face Delaware State, Norfolk State and South Carolina State in the tournament. Morgan State canceled its season, meaning the Rattlers will not have to face one of their bigger rivals.

This is the first season that FAMU has had only a women’s tennis team. As a budget-cutting move, FAMU eliminated the men’s team program.