Tennis player forfeits state title after crowd heckles her

Kristen Butler,
High school tennis courts. (CC/Northwestern High School)
High school tennis courts. (CC/Northwestern High School)

High school senior Briana Leonard walked off the court and quit the New Hampshire state girls' tennis singles final due to heckling from the crowd, and second-seeded Sunday Swett won the title by default.

Leonard's parents told the Nashua Telegraph she was attacked because she lives in Massachusetts but goes to Bishop Guertin High School in New Hampshire.


"This has been going on for the last two years,” said Kristen Leonard. "“This is an 18-year-old girl who fell and got hurt and people are cheering. ... Because we live in Massachusetts."

Leonard was trailing 1-0 in the best-of-three set final when she left the court with her parents and went home before her second set even began.

Leonard’s father was already upset over an altercation with officials regarding his family being caught in a traffic jam. Leonard was docked a point and loss of serve for being one minute late for the 3:30 start time.

With a 5-4 lead, Swett was trailing love-40 before regrouping and serving herself back for the game and set.

"We really didn’t talk during the match," Swett said. "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."


NHIAA Executive Director R. Patrick Corbin called the event an "unfortunate" experience. "All I can say is that a volunteer ... doesn’t deserve to be yelled at. They are volunteers."

BG head coach Barry Ndynia said Briana "was heavily not the crowd favorite today." The Cardinals coach said heckling was just part of the game.

"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."

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