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Myrtle Beach Girl Honors the Game

October 28, 2014 05:11 PM

Jonathon Braden
USTA South Carolina

Joan and Bowen Truluck of Myrtle Beach have plenty of reasons to obsess about tennis.

They both played growing up – Joan through high school and Bowen at Wofford College. Now the mother and father have children who play as well, including 14-year-old Elizabeth, the No. 5-ranked singles player in South Carolina in her age division.

But the couple also have good reasons to keep the sport in perspective, including their seven other children and their strong Catholic faith.

“We just can’t let it rule our life and get all caught up in it… because there are bigger things,” Joan Truluck said.

Elizabeth, middle, after receiving the sportsmanship award at the 2014 USTA Southern Section Closed Championships in Macon, Georgia.


On the tennis court, Elizabeth displays that same rational perspective about the game, which is why USTA South Carolina will honor her and her family later this year.

In December, Elizabeth officially will receive the Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl Award from the state association. The late Hodgin was a highly ranked junior player whose attitude and composure helped him stand out even more than his strong play.

“It means more to us than winning a tournament,” Joan Truluck said. “This a big award for us – for her to be recognized by not how many wins and losses (she has) but how she plays the game.”

Before changeovers, Elizabeth always retrieves the balls on her side of the net and hands them to her opponent. Elizabeth never nonchalantly leaves the balls at the back of the court or carelessly tosses them elsewhere. She also makes fair calls throughout her matches.

And she remembers to say her “pleases” and “thank yous” on the court and to tournament officials.

“If I’m going to play I need to respect people,” Elizabeth Truluck said. Sportsmanship has “always been a big deal to me because my parents taught me.”

That conversation happened about eight years ago after Elizabeth’s first tournament.

Joan Truluck had watched some players crush balls across the court rather than hand them to their opponents during changeovers.

After seeing that, she and her husband made sure Elizabeth knew there was a correct way and a wrong way to act on the tennis court.

“We just let her know that that was not acceptable behavior,” Joan Truluck said, “and it’s really never been an issue.”

Parents should step in and correct inappropriate behavior they see on the tennis court, Joan Truluck said.

To be clear, however, most tournament players do act appropriately on the court. As Elizabeth has gotten older, her mother said, the sportsmanship and behavior of players has improved as well.

In the “older age groups, people are out there wanting to just play, and that’s been very refreshing,” Joan Truluck said. “It’s just about the sport. That’s what it should be about – playing good tennis and having fun.”

That’s what it’s been about all along for Elizabeth.