On March 15, 1993, the seven members of the Ravenna High School girls' tennis club and their parents made a presentation to the Ravenna Board of Education in support of their bid to be approved as a varsity sport.
In turn, Melissa Burton, Tonya Scott, Priscilla Farrar, Amy Strabala, Jamie Lallathin and Michelle Russell stood before the board making their case. In its wisdom, the board recognized the players' dedication by unanimously voting to elevate the club to varsity status, and the newly minted team competed as an official member of the Metro Conference that August.
Thus, the team celebrated its 20th anniversary this season, culminating in a fine performance at the Portage Trail Conference tournament, held at the newly refurbished Ravenna High School tennis complex.
During the past two decades, the team has produced a long list of champions, including state tournament qualifier Stephanie Fosnight, who will be inducted into the Ravenna Athletic Hall of Fame in October, a splendid confirmation of the board's decision.
In a bitterly sad irony, this 20th anniversary also marks the loss of the team's founding captain. Melissa Burton-Wilcox passed away on Sept. 17.
In three short years, she transformed herself from untrained beginner to being one set away from qualifying for the state tournament, blazing a trail followed by many players to come.
The Ravenna High School girls' tennis team is her legacy, one that she shares with her 1993 team mates, and from which they and we can derive both satisfaction and consolation.
Kim S. Uhlik, Ravenna High School girls' tennis club adviser/coach, 1992-1993
Kim S. Uhlik, Ph.D.