By Kevin Wittner
TUCSON, Ariz. – Two players on the Texas section team at the 2010 USTA League 3.0 Adult National Championships have ties to the Olympics. One has been the star, and the other cheers for the Stars. This weekend, however, both will shine at nationals.
Prior to taking up tennis, Texas’ No. 1 singles player Missy Ryan was a world renowned rower. Ryan represented the United States at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, winning a silver medal, before capturing the bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Anne-Marie Morrow grew up around a hockey rink. The Montreal native is the daughter of Guy Carbonneau, who played for two decades in the National Hockey League. When her father’s playing career ended, Morrow’s heart stayed close to the ice when she married Dallas Stars left wing Brenden Morrow, whose Canadian men’s hockey team won gold at the Vancouver Games.
It is ironic that for years Ryan was known as the best in her sport – missing out on a gold medal in ’96 by only .39 seconds – while Morrow has attended more than 1,000 hockey games in her life as a spectator.
Morrow, who played tennis sparingly as a teenager, took up the game just a few years ago.
"It was kind of a fluke," Morrow recalls how she began playing tennis.
"My husband is an avid golfer who plays golf seven days a week in the off season, so I kind of took it up as retaliation – kind of like ‘Fine, I’ll find a hobby,’" Morrow jokes, "and now I’m gone more than he is!"
Like Morrow, Ryan began playing tennis only recently. While her athletic ability is undeniable, Ryan says that her background as an elite rower has not overtly helped her in her new endeavor.
"People will say, ‘Oh wow, you’re Olympian,’ but it wasn’t a ball sport," Ryan says, in reference to games such as tennis, baseball and basketball.
"I have no ball sport experience whatsoever. The main difference I have found," Ryan says, "is in the mental game. I would prepare for a seven minute race, and it would start and it would finish. I was in oxygen deprivation the whole time, but this is like start-stop-start-stop and for over 2 hours, so I found that to be challenging."
Texas captain Colette Holman says that both players are pleasure to have on the team.
"Anne-Marie is one of the younger girls on the team. She is a solid all-around player; she’s fun," Holman said. "She is such an athlete herself, and she has gone so far in such a short amount of time."
As for Ryan, Holman said: "Missy is a rock star. She trains for tennis like she did for the Olympics. We all try to live up to Missy because she is so good, and she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She is so gracious and so nice on the court. She is just a wonderful person."
During the road to nationals, the tables were turned as Brenden came out to support his wife and her team.
However, with the NHL season starting in early October, Brenden was unable to travel to Tucson. He scored a goal during Thursday’s evening’s victory over the Detroit Red Wings and is off to a white hot start – scoring four goals in the season’s first three games. Tonight, the Stars play at home against the St. Louis Blues.
"He didn’t make it here, though – I guess he had a prior commitment," Morrow laughs. "But he has been asking me for updates."
At least for this weekend, both ladies get to be the stars.