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As Tracy Hudson Will Attest, Sometimes, Mother Does Know Best : A Little Prodding Goes a Long Way on the Court


Quite a bit of motherly prodding was needed to get Tracy Hudson out to a Garden Grove High School badminton practice two years ago.

Said Hudson: "(My mom) said, 'Oh, Miss Toutz. She's still there, and she coaches badminton. You should go out for it because she's a really neat coach. She's the best coach they have there.' "

Kind of that "Do it for me, honey" tone of voice.

Well, mother-daughter relationships can be trying. Particularly in this case where the mother, Nancy Davis, attended Garden Grove High, and repeatedly glorified a handful of teachers each night at the dinner table.

Davis, also an athlete, revered many of her former coaches. And she let Hudson know it--time and time again.

Vicki Toutz, the badminton coach, was special, though. Toutz the U.S. women's badminton team coach, had coached Davis years earlier in Girls Athletic Assn. sports such as volleyball, basketball and swimming.

" Badminton? " Hudson said, giving her mother that well practiced 'you've got to be kidding' look. Tennis was Hudson's sport and she didn't intend to quit. After all, she was Garden Grove's No. 2 singles player as a freshman.

But as it turned out, yes, badminton.

And after her initial resistence, Hudson discovered she liked the sport. She also discovered she was good at it.

Last month, Hudson placed second in the Junior National badminton championships at the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club. It was a surprising finish for someone who had practiced a total of 27 weeks, the equivalent of three high school seasons.

"People were all (asking), 'Where are you from? What club do you play at? Who coaches you?' " Hudson said.

Hudson doesn't belong to a club, and she doesn't take private lessons. But, she had enough of a tennis background to make the transition into badminton.

For four years, Davis practiced with Hudson each day after school, helping her develop more than form and footwork. She wanted her daughter to learn discipline.

Hudson had to stay on the court until she hit 100 consecutive error free ground strokes. No fudging was allowed.

Once, Hudson's 99th shot snapped the tape and rolled gently back to her.

A grave silence followed.

"I said so many in a row and then she stopped," Davis said. "She said, 'I'm not going to do it' and I said 'you're going to do it,' and we both stood there and stared for a while.

"Pretty soon we started hitting, again."

Davis wasn't fooling around. And neither was Hudson. Besides her daily practice sessions, she took private lessons and entered tournaments on the weekends.

"In tennis, I took lessons and I thought I really wanted it for a while," Hudson said. "I thought maybe I could become (a top player) in the world, and then one day, I figured, I don't want it enough, and I can't play inside if I don't want it. It's no use.

"In badminton, I really want it a lot. Inside, I try. Inside."

Old habits die hard. The first time Hudson came out to badminton practice, she let the shuttle bounce on the floor. She had a two-handed backhand her first two seasons.

"Everyone would say, 'Oh, there's Tracy, the tennis player,' " Toutz said.

They didn't say that after her first season.

Hudson won a Southern Section 4-A individual title her sophomore season. She will begin the defense of her title today in the first round of the individual championships from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cal State Domniquez Hills.

Still, Hudson has had her mind on tennis because it was something she could share with her mother.

Davis played competitive tennis for the first time in 1978 at age 28. She entered Rancho Santiago community college at age 33, and became the Dons' No. 1 singles player. She advanced to the state semifinals championships in her sophomore season.

"I was 33 playing against 18 and 20-year-olds," Davis said. "I thought it was great. It was wonderful because that's how old I think I am, anyway."

Hudson didn't share her zeal.

"I thought it was really weird, like 'How old is your mom?' 'Oh, she's 34 and she goes to college,' " she said. "She's going backwards."

Even worse, Davis was a better tennis player than Hudson. Hudson recalled one frustrating set where she came oh-so-close but lost to Davis, 6-4.

And when Hudson was voted Garden Grove's most valuable player as a sophomore in 1984, her mother received the same honor from Rancho Santiago. Hudson, who still plays on the high school tennis team, also was the Argonauts' MVP last fall.

"I just wanted to impress her," Hudson said. "She won all of these tournaments, so I wanted to go home and say I could win my tournaments, too. And when I lost, it was a big disappointment."

Said Davis: "I have more killer in me for tennis than she did, and I don't think of myself as being 35.

"Tracy, you're older than me, aren't you?" she asked, turning to Tracy.

They're a walking Ivory commercial.

But, there are times when Hudson has to draw the line. Especially when her teammates ask Davis to play badminton.

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