Shock and disappointment. It was the collective feeling of team Nakoma Black from Madison, WI when they learned that teammate Ben Winding would not be coming with them to Surprise, AZ for the 18U Junior Team Tennis National Championships.
While his team faced stiff competition in Arizona, Ben would be dealing with a battle of his own back home - viral meningitis.
It was a devastating blow to the team when they learned about Ben’s condition.
"He was the heart and soul of our team," said Kaitlin Hackbarth. "Nobody was more excited to come to Nationals than Ben and it crushed him that he wouldn’t be here with us."
"We are always thinking of him and without a doubt, this tournament is dedicated to him," stated Lauren Keller.
"Everybody on the team knows how much Ben wanted to be here and all we are trying to do is play well and make him proud," she continued.
After their early morning victory 34-20 over the team from Intermountain, team Nakoma Black is holding strong despite their missing link. You can be sure that Ben is getting constant updates on his team as they make their way through the tournament.
The team had one final message for Ben before heading out to their next match against Mid-Atlantic.
"We love you Sue and we miss you so much! Get better soon so all of us can get back on the court."
When asked why they called him Sue, the team responded, "It’s a very long story for another day."