D'Evelyn boys tennis' Carter Smith gave a lesson in choosing sportsmanship over winning

D'Evelyn boys tennis Carter Smith

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

D'Evelyn's Carter Smith didn't win a Class 4A boys tennis title last fall, but his name and actions became the talk of Pueblo City Park.

Smith advanced to the second day of the tournament, playing the in No. 3 Singles semifinal against Cheyenne Mountain's Oliver Muhl. The first set went into a tiebreaker and during a volley, Smith tired to beat Muhl with a forearm shot down the line. He and Muhl both watched as the shot landed out.

But the umpire observing on the court initially ruled it in, giving the point to Smith in a very pivotal point in the match.

"I knew it out, Oliver knew it was out," Smith said. "I conceded the point."

Tennis is a sport where more often than not, the players are forced to govern themselves. It's like golf. The results are based on the integrity of the game and Smith grew up believing in that very integrity.

He went on to lose the set and eventually the match to Muhl. He eventually finished third in the bracket, but held his head high knowing that played his hardest and also played honestly.

"That was all him," coach Woody Oliver said. "We obviously promote good sportsmanship and integrity and I've been frustrated myself as a player when there are situations where people take advantage of the fact that tennis is a self-regulated sport and they can take advantage of certain things a lot easier than you can in other sports."

When the tournament was all said and done, the Jaguars finished fifth in the team standings, a high mark for the team. And despite Smith not advancing to the championship match in his No. 3 Singles bracket, his points for third place were crucial to the team's final result.

Neither he or the team went home empty-handed either. His actions during his semifinal match was the catalyst for the Jags winning the Vicky Matarrazo Sportsmanship Award. Perhaps there was no bigger proponent for them than Cheyenne Mountain athletic director Kris Roberts who was front and center to watch Smith play the justly and honestly.

"I thought that was an incredible display," Roberts said. "I feel like in the dynamic of that situation 95 percent of the time, that call doesn't get made. The kid overruled the adult official and I thought that was incredible."

Knowing the team hadn't won state, but they were getting medalists, the Jags naturally stuck around for the awards ceremony. As Ed Francis, the man who runs the 4A tournament at Pueblo City Park, told Smith's story he made sure to emphasize the importance of honesty in tennis. Yet, even when he announced D'Evelyn as the winner of the Matarrazo award, Smith's reaction was that of genuine surprise.

"I don't know many of the teams there and I don't know the coaches," Smith said. "It was cool that they noticed that moment. It was great, especially since it was the whole team that got recognized. It meant a lot."

He hopes that in the coming years his results and the team's result will improve. But in that moment, his values and his belief on how to play the game took forefront and even if it resulted in a loss, he held his head high.

"I hope people realize that sportsmanship should always come before winning," Smith said.

Every once in a while it turns out the kids can teach a lesson in high school athletics.