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Overcoming Cancer, LA Team Finds Big Win

By Erica Normand, Louisiana 18 & Over 3.0 women’s team

What happens when old and new friends come together to not only play some great tennis, but also create a lasting mark on the game and each other? You get an unmatched experience.

And, not just because this year’s New Orleans women’s 3.0, 18+ night team, Money Shots, went undefeated pulling off a 13-game winning streak in the regular season. But, also because this team is grounded in friendships: two pairs of sisters, high school BFFs, in-laws, childhood friends, neighbors, clinic partners, competitors from other teams and everything in between.

First-time team captain Roxanne Hadley and co-captain Julie Huffstutler started organizing the team in late 2018 but would soon face a tremendous life challenge when in December Roxanne’s wife (also Julie’s cousin) was diagnosed with Cancer.

Months went by and between January and May Money Shots kept winning. And off the court, Cancer was losing. By the tim

e State rolled around in early June, surgery was scheduled so Roxanne cheered on the team from home.


With Julie at the helm, Money Shots started the weekend-long post-season tournament with a 4-1 win against Baton Rouge. But, later that day after 14 straight wins they felt their first loss, against Lake Charles, in a tight battle to the end. On one doubles’ line, a teammate injured her calf early in the second set but kept going. On another line, a third-set tie-breaker didn’t go as they’d hoped.

“There was a definite turning point at the end of the first day,” said Julie. “I think we were all a little surprised and decided to reset everything the next day.”

The weekend progressed. Money Shots got back to their team wins. Lake Charles did, too. Then, in an unlikely outcome Lake Charles fell short in their last match before the finals, shifting the standings and pushing Money Shots ahead.

The next morning Lake Charles and New Orleans faced five final lines, determining who would move forward and represent Louisiana at Sectionals. Tensions were as high as what was at stake. The cheering section grew, as players finished their lines and friends began to gather around the final match of the day. In the end, New Orleans secured their spot in Mobile.

“This team has so much heart on and off the court,” said Terri Sisk, the team’s coach and director of tennis at Grand Bend Tennis Retreat. “Each and every person worked hard all season on technique, but in the end you have to want it. And, they did.”


On to Mobile, this time with the team’s captain, co-captain, friends and family.

Hopes were as high as tensions back in Baton Rouge a month prior. New opponents: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. Only five matches away from playing on a national stage.

But, the first game for Money Shots against their neighboring state Mississippi ended in a 2-3 loss. All three of those lines lost went to third-set tie-breakers with Mississippi clenching each one. The next morning it rained, and delays forced a change to the schedule, placing three matches on Saturday with the latest one slated to begin at 10:30 p.m.

It didn’t get much better for Money Shots that afternoon – another tight loss to Alabama followed by South Carolina. Georgia, however, remained undefeated not only at Sectionals but also backing up to the start of their season.

Another reset moment came for the Louisiana team, as their sights focused on leaving the tournament with a team win against the undefeated Georgia team. Five final lines for Money Shots began late Saturday night. This time only one doubles line would go to a third-set tie-breaker to determine the team’s outcome.

As the time crept past midnight, Georgia and Louisiana were still facing off. By this time friends and family, the 4.5 women’s team from New Orleans and all of Money Shots were leading a 30-plus cheering section for the remaining line. After Louisiana lost the first set, then won a second-set tie-breaker, the third-set tie-breaker began.

A close rally ensued bringing the score to 8-8. Next point: Louisiana. Next: Louisiana returns deep to Georgia, they pop it up. Cue slow-mo: Louisiana sends a winning overhead to their opponent’s side making it 10-8.

A Sectionals team win. A sensational celebration with the New Orleans cheering squad rushing the court. Any bystander would’ve thought the team had just won it all.

“We ended on the highest note possible,” said Roxanne, “In more ways than one, fighting through epic battles for a big win. We’re a team of survivors.”

Sectionals for the 2019 season is over, Money Shots is not moving on to Nationals in Oklahoma.

But, maybe that’s the secret to a winning season – not simply tallying up the number of matches won or making it to the very top. Perhaps it’s about perspective, making lasting memories and friendships, celebrating the high notes, standing by the lows, putting in the work, and most of all having fun.

Photo captions (from top): 1) Captain and co-captain, Roxanne Hadley and Julie Huffstutler; 2) Money Shots are #1 at Louisiana state tournament in June; 3) Post-Sectionals win against Georgia in July.

Money Shots team members include: Gwen Asaro, Jennifer Benjamin, Elaine Bienvenu, Rana Cabeceiras, Keri Candies, Michele Carollo, Gina Cross, Amy Gillies, Roxanne Hadley, Alicia Halphen, Julie Huffstutler, Victoria Judge, Sinny Maurus, Erica Normand, Michelle Osborne, Jennifer Perilloux and Michele Spansel. Terri Sisk coaches Money Shots in the New Orleans area. She’s the director of tennis at Grand Bend Tennis Retreat, which is scheduled to open in 2020 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

After months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Roxanne and Julie’s girl, Christi is recovering and Cancer-free. On Aug. 17, ChristiPalooza – an event to support their family – will be held in New Orleans.

Photo captions (from top): 1) Captain and co-captain, Roxanne Hadley and Julie Huffstutler; 2) Money Shots are #1 at Louisiana state tournament in June; 3) Post-Sectionals win against Georgia in July.