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Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Australian girl banned from tennis club for grunting

ESPN.com news services

A 9-year-old Australian girl has been banned from playing tennis at her local club over the noise she makes while competing.

The Herald Sun of Melbourne, Australia, reported that Lauryn Edwards was told last weekend that she could no longer play after an opposing player complained about her grunting.

It feels natural to do my noise. I'm not faking it. It makes me play better. When I don't do it, I don't play my best tennis.

-- Lauryn Edwards, 9

Edwards' favorite player is Maria Sharapova. And like her hero, Edwards grunts when she strikes the ball.

Her father, who has turned to the regional and national tennis federations for assistance, said the Mt. Carmel Tennis Club in Sunbury asked him for assurances that she would remain quiet while playing.

"They told me to guarantee she won't grunt or she can't play," Duncan Edwards said, according to the report. "How can I guarantee that? She's been doing it since she was really little. She's her own person.

"What do they want me to do? Put Band-Aids over her mouth?" he added. "They made her cry on the court when they told her. She was in such a state that I had to bring her home mid-match."

What do they want me to do? Put Band-Aids over her mouth?

-- Duncan Edwards

Lauryn Edwards has been playing tennis since she was 4, after it was suggested as a way to help manage her attention deficit disorder. She says the grunting is part of her game.

"It feels natural to do my noise. I'm not faking it," she said, according to the Herald-Sun. "It makes me play better. When I don't do it, I don't play my best tennis. And now people have told me I can't play if I do it."

Paul Hackett, the vice president of the club, told the newspaper, "No one is not allowing her to play. Sorry, I can't say anymore than that."

But Russell Baldry, the president of the Northern Suburbs Junior Tennis Association, in which Edwards plays, said the situation was disappointing.

"They just had to ask her to try and be a little quieter, not make a federal case out of it," he said, according to the report. "This is not in the association's interests and not in the girl's interests. The association will have to discuss it because we certainly have not stopped her from playing."