Oklahoma Bible doubles player Katie Irwin tried to convince her partner, Molly Cannon, they could forfeit their second match of the day — even while Cannon changed from her dress clothes into her tennis outfit.
There was no changing Cannon's mind. She was not going to let her team down or her grandpa.
“Let's go play,” Cannon said.
On Monday, Cannon's grandfather, Lawrence “Larry” Goodson Cannon, died at age 79. OBA's No. 2 doubles team forfeited its first match that was scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Friday since Cannon's grandfather's funeral didn't start until 11:30 a.m.
Around 2:30 p.m., OBA coach Judy Glazier received a phone call from Molly Cannon asking if she would still make it for match No. 2. Glazier said yes.
Cannon's aunt and uncle “cut people off and drove like speed demons” to try to get from Blackwell to the Oklahoma City's Tennis Center. Cannon was still a crying mess, but she kept telling herself to pull it together.
“I didn't want to let my team down, and I knew (Katie) wasn't going to be able to play,” Cannon said. “My mom told me to play for my grandpa.”
Lawrence Cannon was a farmer, or to his granddaughter, “a big man.”
“He loved people, and he loved God with all he had,” Molly Cannon said.
The last time she saw her grandfather, who lived in Blackwell, was two weeks ago. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for the past couple years. Molly said he wasn't really allowed to leave his house.
On Sunday, Cannon's dad went to visit Lawrence Cannon and asked her to join.
“I said I couldn't because I had too much homework,” she said. “(It bothers me) a little bit because he had asked for me to come visit soon, but he wouldn't be mad.
“He never got mad.”
After all the emotions of the day, Cannon admitted it was difficult to concentrate on her match. She and Irwin fought through the wind and difficult shots but failed to win their match. The 6-2, 6-2 loss to Landry Briscoe and Abigail Grimmett of Pauls Valley eliminated them from the Class 4A tournament.
Neither Cannon nor Irwin cried after the match. Instead, they stood on the court and did a mini-group hug with two other teammates.
“I tried to get her not to come,” Irwin said. “I completely understood if she couldn't. She's very resilient.”
Cannon, a freshman, is the youngest on the team. Both Irwin and Glazier said Cannon is strong and extremely mature, even if the rest of the team always tries to protect her.
Oklahoma Bible's girls' tennis team couldn't protect Molly Cannon from the grief of losing a loved one, but they were shocked she continually apologized for having to forfeit the first match and promised to make the second match.
“She thought she was letting us down,” Glazier said. “We were just excited that she was going to get to play.
“It was still a shock to her. She has faith in God, though, and she knows where her grandpa is.”