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Team Supports Top Junior Fighting Cancer

March 1, 2013 06:07 PM
Lori Sentell proudly shows off her ribbon for Sean Karl.
Captain Carol Maples is ready for a volley.
By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern
A small token  worn at the Combo Doubles Southern Sectional Championships represents a ray of hope for a big talent.
At the urging of player Lori Sentell, her Tennessee (B) 5.0 teammates are wearing orange ribbons in support of Sean Karl, one of the top junior players in Tennessee and the South.
Karl, who has been ranked No. 1 in Boys’ 16 in USTA Southern and is headed to the University of Tennessee tennis team, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a form of bone and soft tissue cancer, last fall. Brentwood, Tenn. resident Karl was playing ITF Futures tournament when we started feeling pain in his back.
Sentell works with Sean’s father, Mike. She said his dedication to supporting his son inspired her to reach out to her teammates. Captain Carol Maples contacted a local store which quickly made the Tennessee-colored ribbon and button pins with cross.
"When I found out about what happened to Sean, I wanted to do something in his honor. We have been praying for his recovery, too," Sentell, a Knoxville resident, said.
"The store was out of shoestrings. So, we’re women and went with the bling!," Maples explained.
As written on a blog by his mother this week, Karl finished his eighth of twelve chemotherapy treatments. She wrote, "Despite Sean developing a radiation burn on his back (looks like a big sun burn), he is counting down the last 4 radiation treatments. He continues to feel and move well...he played some tennis tonight."
With Roger Federer making a video – click here -- and hockey great Sidney Crosby sending a signed jersey, top athletes from around the world know of Karl’s potential. He has won a 2012 Gold Ball in Boys’ 18s National Clay Courts Doubles and was 2011 Boys’ 18s Southern Closed Champion and named 2011 USTA Tennessee Outstanding Junior Player.
Expressing his support for the high school senior was University of Tennessee Head Coach Sam Winterbotham. Writing last November, Winterbotham said, "Sean has character. We know he's someone who can handle adversity and come out on top. He has been dealt an extremely difficult situation, but he's a fighter and when he gets through this, he'll join the Tennessee program." Karl had planned on graduating high school early and enrolling at UT in January. Now the university reports he will start his Volunteer career in August.
Assistant Coach Chris Woodruff also commented on the young player. "I've followed Sean's career for a long time, and what's stood out to me is how he always has such a positive outlook on things when he's part of a group," Woodruff said. "He'll be a wonderful teammate. He has such great charisma, and you can trust him," he said.
USTA Southern's Direct of High Performance Bill Ozaki remarked, "Sean is one of the toughest competitors to ever play for USTA Southern and we know he will beat this competitor because, unlike a tennis match, he doesn't have to do it alone. His faith, family and many friends are with him. Like Lori and her team, I am wearing Sean's orange Tennessee hat I got from Pete Bauer and Global Caps, at every tennis event until he beats this opponent."
Here’s a link to Karl’s site: www.prayforsean.com. On that page are links to his Facebook page, CaringBridge site, support site with merchandise that will raise money and other related sites.



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